Workout of the Week - 9th August: Abs-olutely Exhausting


This week is all about abs. Even though so many of us complain about our abs, most people leave working this part of their body until the end of a training session when we are too tired or rushing to get on with the rest of the day to give them the attention they need. This week I want you to give this workout a go at the beginning of your session, after your warm up. It only takes ten minutes so you can even squeeze it in in the mornings. There are a few things to think about when training your abdominal muscles. The first one is that when we have air in our lungs, we can't fully contract our abs so if you hold your breath while crunching, you won't be working them out as well as you could be. So make sure you always exhale on the effort part of an exercise (e.g. on your way up in a crunch) and add a pause in at the top before inhaling to increase the time spent at maximum contraction.

The next point is that you don't need as much recovery time between sets as you d with other parts of your body. In order to work your abs well, you should move quickly from one exercise to the next without a rest period until your muscles are exhausted. You'll be surprised - we use our core muscles every day for stability without realising so they are probably stronger than you realise (making them harder to work!). On top of this, if we begin with working the lower abdominals, we subconsciously engage the rest of our core muscles to help stabilise. So buy the time the you come on to your upper abs, they've already had a bit of a workout.

With this circuit, rather than focusing on how many reps you can do or working with a timer, think about working until exhaustion where you physically cannot do another rep and only give yourself the 'rest' of moving from one position to the next.

Complete this circuit just once, working on each exercise until you can't do any more. Be honest with yourself - don't stop until you really can't carry on!

Leg Raises - lying on the floor with your legs straight, raise your legs to the ceiling. Then lower them slowly as low as you can without your lower back lifting. Then repeat, using your breath.

Plank to Pikestart in a plank position, hold for 3 counts, then slowly raise your hips until your body is in a pike position. Hold at the top for 3 counts, then lower back to your plank position.

Plank with Cross Body Crunch - Start in a crunch position, this time with straight arms. Using your stomach muscles, pull your right knee towards your left elbow then place it back down again. Then cross your left knee to touch your right elbow. 

Russian Twists - Sit down with your feet flat on the ground and legs bent. Then raise your feet a few inches from the round. Twist your torso to one side, then all the way to the other side. Stay controlled and add a weight if you want to make it a little more challenging.

Bicycle CrunchesLie on your back and lightly support your head with your hands, raising your your legs and bending to 90 degrees. Bring your right elbow towards your left knee, then swap sides bringing your left elbow to your right knee.

Crunches - Lay on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the ground with your hands lightly supporting your head. Curl up using your stomach muscles (not your neck or momentum). Only go as far as the bottom of your bra strap (or bottom of your shoulder blades for men!) before lowering slowly.

Remember to stretch well afterward to keep your abdominals long and lean! Have a great week everyone.