The Amazing Abs Move You Can Do Lying Down — No Crunches Required
Hooray for ab exercises that don’t require holding a plank or banging out crunches! This particular move even lets you lie down, but you won’t be counting sheep – it does a number on your midsection, obliques, upper back and shoulders. “This move trains your abs to work like an anchor: you have to hold your torso stable while you move the legs,” says Michael Ellefsen, a biokineticist and lecturer at the Health & Fitness Professionals Academy in Joburg. It’s also a more advanced move, thanks to the movement of your legs causing instability in your core.
Because of this, it often gets abused in the gym (see Signs You’re Doing It Wrong below). Your fix: go slow and easy. Your endgame is to let your straightened legs go all the way down on either side, but it takes time. Build your strength, starting with knees bent at a 90-degree angle, says Nadia Nikolova, founder and instructor at Pilates Connection in Johannesburg. Let your legs go as far down as they can, keeping your torso and shoulders firmly on the floor – if your form is compromised, you could hurt yourself. And make sure you breathe steadily.
“To make the exercise more effective, initiate the movement with your breath and your abdominals,” says Nikolova. Ellefsen advises breathing in on the rotation and breathing out as you return to centre.
Burn It Up
Want more? Play with these next-level challenges from Nikolova:
1/ pull your arms closer to your torso. It’ll create less stability for your midsection, so your core works harder.
2/ hold a barbell above your chest. The added weight challenges your abs, plus it’s a good arm workout.
3/ hang from a bar. Wipers on the floor are an important foundation exercise for the hanging version.
Signs You’re Doing It Wrong
1/ Your shoulders are lifting. “Focus on imprinting both shoulders onto the mat,” says Nikolova.
2/ You’re not bracing your core. “Focus on your core – this helps stabilize your lower back,” says Ellefsen.
3/ You’re rushing it. “Focus on slow and controlled movements to get all the muscles involved,” instructs Nikolova.