One Easy Ab Exercise for Beginners or People Who Are Seriously out of Shape
Hard Floors Make Exercise Difficult
Determine your fitness level
What fitness level do you find yourself in right now?
DISCLAIMER: Because I am not a doctor, I want to make sure that you, the reader understand that I am sharing what has worked for me, and I encourage all readers to talk with their doctors prior to beginning this or any exercise program. This article is not to take the place of medical advice. If you have questions about how to exercise correctly, you should talk with your doctor and a fitness trainer.
Strengthen Abdominal Muscles Without Getting Down on the Floor
It can be very difficult to work your abdominal muscles when you cannot get up and down off the floor without experiencing pain and discomfort.
In the photo at the top of this page you see a young, fit person doing abdominal exercises on a hard floor. We all know that the movements he is performing are tried and true for increasing the strength of our stomach muscles. However, most people who are overweight and just beginning a fitness program are usually not able to get up and down off the floor easily.
I know, because I was one of those people. Every time I would get up and down I experienced significant pain in my shoulders, knees, and back. It wasn't that I was unwilling to make the effort to exercise my stomach muscles; the problem was that I just was not physically capable of getting up and down without hurting myself.
I had been forcing myself to do it anyway for several weeks, yet was not experiencing improvement, and my shoulders kept hurting worse and worse. I felt discouraged and angry with myself for allowing my body to become so overweight and weak. When I would finally get down onto the floor, I found that my stomach muscles simply would not or could not flex around the internal and external body fat that I was carrying around my middle.
Then one day I figured out an alternative that seemed to work my stomach muscles without all of the pain and discomfort I had been experiencing.
A Unique Abdominal Workout Platform
I was lying in bed one morning wishing I could just sit up in bed like I did when I was in better shape. Then I raised my knees to kick off the bed covers. I noticed that when I did that, my stomach muscles tightened significantly. So I did it again. Again I felt the tightening in my stomach area.
I was lying on my back with my pillows just under my neck and shoulders, which caused my back to round slightly (not arch) when I lifted my knees. Suddenly, I realized my body was in the exact position a fitness instructor said to keep while doing abdominal crunches. The pillows kept my shoulders slightly off the mattress, and when I raised my knees together, this positioning seemed to allow my abdominal muscles to contract in the proper way.
So, keeping my hands on my chest, I did as many of these knee raises as I could. Lo and behold, the next day I had slightly sore stomach muscles. I was thrilled. I could feel my muscles working to support my body the next day as I moved about my home and work environment doing my normal day.
When I talk about sore muscles here, I am not talking about excruciating pain. I am talking about slight soreness that comes with a feeling of increased tightness. I may be wrong about this, but I believe that my own body responds better when I do not torture it. I feel that working out until your muscles are so sore that you are in excruciating pain is counter productive, and yes! It is debilitating pain which could cause injuries. Professional trainers might disagree, but if they do, I would ask them what level they are training at. Are they training professional athletes? Are they in the body building contest arena?
When muscles are sore, I was taught that it is because our muscle fibers tear in order to increase and rebuild. For normal people who have to be able to pick up the toddler, mow the yard, and go to work and lift books and bend over to put stuff in file cabinets, getting the body so sore that normal movement is all but impossible is out of the question. This is why I always advocate beginning at a more moderate pace and rate. I wouldn't want my arm and shoulder muscles to be so sore that I dropped my baby because my muscles gave out.
So, it was with this in mind that I began with a moderate approach to getting myself back into shape. I continued to do this one simple abdominal exercise for about two weeks. Then I added a variation to the movement that included the muscles on the side of my stomach, called the obliques.
Below you will find instructions for doing this easy abdominal exercise.
Easy Abdominal Exercise
Raising Your Knees
Easy Ab Exercise: Return to starting position
How to Do This Easy Abdominal Workout
- Lie on your bed with your pillow just under your shoulders
- With legs and feet together, draw your feet up until your knees are bent similarly to the way it is shown in the picture.
- Slowly raise both knees keeping feet together until they are above your hips. Do not tuck your feet into the buttocks area. As you raise your knees your calves and feet will be almost perpendicular to your mattress.
- Hold for a count of 5 if you are able. If not, hold for a lower count.
- Slowly lower your feet and knees back to the starting position.
- As you do these repetitions, concentrate on tightening your abdominal muscles throughout the entire repetition.
- Do as many repetitions as you can. Challenge yourself to tire out your abdominal muscles. Listen to your body. You will know if you have not done enough repetitions, but sometimes people do not know when they have done too MANY repetitions. Once your stomach muscles have gotten tired, stop and stretch, elongating your body, as if you were trying to make yourself grow a couple of inches taller. Allow your stomach muscles to stretch out and relax.
- See how you feel the next day. As you go about your day, listen to your body for slight soreness in your stomach and waist. You may experience a feeling of tightness rather than actual soreness. If you feel this way, you have most likely found your starting point. Stick with that number of repetitions for a week to two weeks.
If you do not experience soreness or tightness, you may need to increase the repetitions by about 5 and see if that challenges your middle enough to cause your muscles to be slightly tight or sore the next day.
How to Increase these repetitions
After finding your starting point, stick with that for a week to two weeks. Do the abdominal exercises every other day. When you are no longer experiencing any soreness or tightness, increase the repetitions by 5 every other week until you can do 50 repetitions without breaking a sweat or having sore muscles. At that point in time you may be ready for a step up in the type of abdominal exercise you are doing.
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© 2014 Nancy Owens