Maintaining a strong core is not just important for bikinis and belly shirts, it’s about protecting and strengthening your posture throughout all your actions. Your core enhances your balance and stability and acts as the central link between your upper and lower body. A strong and flexible core means a more stabilized upper and lower body and virtually an overall stronger body. This abdominal flow targets upper, lower and side abdominal muscles while minimizing potential strain on one’s neck.
Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine, slowly inhale into cow and exhale into cat. Repeat five times while focusing on the breath and continue through the workout. Each movement should be done with proper form and purpose. Remember to keep your breath even, deep and slow. If you cannot maintain deep breathing and proper form, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Most of these exercises have variations, feel free to utilize them! Don’t overdue it, you want to strengthen not strain your abdominals.
Plank – 30 seconds
- Start in a push up position. Align your shoulders over your wrists and spread your fingers wide, distributing the weight throughout your entire palm and fingers. Engage your abs by tilting your pelvis and pulling your belly button towards your spine. Imagine you’re a straight plank of wood from your heels to your head, but keep your neck relaxed and your gaze slightly forward. You can also drop your knees to the ground. Stay here for 30 seconds.
Boat – 20 seconds
- Sit with your feet flexed, legs straight out in front of you. Lean back slightly without rounding your back. Lift your legs with your knees bent until your shins are parallel to the floor. Draw in your low back, lift your chest and lengthen your torso. Lift your arms and stretch your fingertips towards your toes. Stay here (half boat) for twenty seconds or move into full boat by straightening your legs at a 45 degree angle to the ground, making a V shape. Reach your fingertips towards your toes and stay here for 5 full breaths or 20 seconds.
Block Crunch – 10 reps
- Place a yoga block or rolled up towel between your feet. Move into either half boat or full boat as you inhale. Pass the block from your feet to your hands as you exhale and lengthen your arms over your head. Repeat slowly with intention for 10 repetitions.
Fist Twist – 25 reps
- Sit with your chest raised and torso lengthened. Put your feet on the ground or in half or full boat position. Clasp your hands together and slowly twist to the left and tap your hands onto the ground behind you. Twist to the right and tap your fist directly behind you once again, that’s one repetition. Continue twisting, focusing on keeping your legs stationary while your abdomen and upper body twist.
Side Plank – 20 seconds
- Start in plank, scoot your right hand to the left so that it’s under your nose. Spin to the outside of your right foot and raise your left arm straight into the air. Keep your hips square and lifted and your neck in line with your spine. Stay here or take some variation and hold for 20 seconds. Return to plank and repeat on the left side.
Heels Up – 20 reps
- Lay with your legs straight up at a 90 degree angle to the floor with your feet flexed. Keep your hands relaxed at your sides. Lift your hips off the floor, propelling your heels towards the sky and gently lower back down to the floor. Your lower abs should be doing all the work here, don’t kick you legs up. Remember to breathe and move slowly.
In and Outs – 30 reps
- Sit at half boat. Lower your feet a bit so that your legs make an upside down V. Wrap your arms around your shins below your knees without actually touching your legs. Exhale and spread your arms wide while you recline back and extend your legs straight without setting them on the ground. Inhale as you bend your knees, hug your shins and return to half boat. Repeat 30 times.
Plank : Knee to Elbow – 20 reps
- Start in plank. Lift your right leg and bring your knee to meet the outside of your right elbow. Return your right foot beside the left. Lift your left leg and bring your knee to meet the outside of your left elbow. That’s one full rep. Complete 10 reps.
- Start in plank. Lift your right leg and bring it forward to meet the outside of your right elbow. Slowly rotate your knee over to meet the inside of your left elbow without sacrificing your straight plank. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Bridge – 10 seconds or supported bridge – 30 seconds
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your heels near your butt. You should be able to graze your heels with your finger tips. Slowly lift your hips toward the sky until your thighs are almost parallel. Keep your chin off of your chest and look towards the sky. If you’re comfortable, clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your arms.
- If you have a block, place it under your sacrum and rest here for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the workout if you wish or rest.
I hope you enjoyed this quick abdominal flow. It is meant to be easily remembered (hence the multiple variations of plank and boat) yet varied enough so you focus on each exercise instead of flying through 100 crunches. I find when I do one exercise for more than two dozen repetitions, my form suffers. I hope that you’ll focus on both your breath and form during every single rep in order to get the most from this abdominal flow.