As I have said before, I really like working my abs. I think having a strong core is important in almost any type of activity you like to do. I definitely notice that I have better running form and am a stronger runner when I focus on working my core.
I posted a bunch of different ab exercises here, and some plank exercises here, but today I want to focus on my “go to” ab exercise series. I do this ab series a few times a week after I go running. I like it because it is quick, which is what I need after I have already spent a lot of time running, but also because I feel like you get bang for your buck since it is solely focused on just your abdominal muscles.
I do this exercise once through without taking breaks. This way, you are keeping your abdominal muscles contracted the entire time. If I finish and I still want a little more, I will do some plank holds afterwards. That is just up to you :).
Do not try and rush the exercises, you want each one to be a slow and controlled movement. Remember, always always make sure you are using correct form. You will not get the best results and you can easily cause injuries if your form gets sloppy.
1. 20 Basic Crunches
I like to start off with a basic crunch to sort of get my body in the mode. Make sure you do not bring your chin towards your chest while you are doing this and NEVER put pressure on your neck. If you find it hard to not pull on your neck, cross your arms over your chest instead.
2. 20 Jelly Bellies
The real name for this exercise is tuck abs, but I have always known them as “jelly bellies” so that is what we will go with here. This is probably one of my favorite ab exercises. It really works your entire abdominal wall.
To perform: Lay on the ground. Lift your body in a hollow position with your legs and your shoulders off the ground and your arms straight out by your hips. The lower your legs are, the harder you are working. At the same time, bring your upper body and your legs into a tuck position, then lower back down into your hollow hold. Your goal here is to never let your shoulders or your legs touch the ground. Keep it slow so that you are always going back into your correct positioning and never getting sloppy.
To modify: sit up tall and place your hands behind you on the ground the whole time so you are only tucking in your legs. Still try to keep your legs off the ground the entire time.
3. 20 Bicycle Crunches
As with the basic crunch, make sure your chin is not down towards your chest and never pull on your neck.
To perform: Lay flat on the ground. Raise your legs off the ground, the lower they are (without touching the ground), the harder your abs are working. As you sit up, bend your leg leg towards your body and twist your abs so your right elbow is touching your left knee. Go back to starting position (with your legs still off the ground), and perform on the opposite side.
4. 20 Russian Twists
You can perform this with or without a medicine ball.
To perform: With your knees bent, sit back on your tailbone to where you can balance. Lift your feet off the ground and hold your arms or the medicine ball at your chest. Row from side to side only moving your abs/upper body to twist.
To modify: Place feet flat on the ground to perform this exercise.
5. 20 Side Crunches (on each side)
Again, do not pull on your neck and keep your chin up.
To perform: Laying on the ground, bent your knees and twist them to one side so your bottom leg is resting on the floor. Your upper body should still be laying straight. Pull in at your abs and crunch up towards your hip. Switch sides after you complete 20 reps.
6. 3 sets of 10-12 Side Dumbbell Crunches (on each side)
If you are doing this at home and do not have dumbbells, find something you can hold that gives enough resistance to feel this working.
To perform: While standing, hold your dumbbell in your right hand with your arm straight. Lean to the right until your dumbbell is halfway down the side of your thigh. Pull yourself back up straight.
If that was not enough for you, go through the series again or move on to plank work.
Have a great weekend!