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One Easy Ab Exercise for Beginners or People Who Are Seriously out of Shape

Updated on February 27, 2017

Hard Floors Make Exercise Difficult

There is an easier way to tone your abdominal muscles.
There is an easier way to tone your abdominal muscles. | Source

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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

Ab exercises do not need to be painful.
Ab exercises do not need to be painful. | Source

Raising Your Knees

Keeping feet together, raise your knees while keeping your feet extended outward as opposed to bringing them close to your behind.
Keeping feet together, raise your knees while keeping your feet extended outward as opposed to bringing them close to your behind. | Source

Easy Ab Exercise: Return to starting position

Slowly return to starting position.
Slowly return to starting position. | Source

How to Do This Easy Abdominal Workout

  1. Lie on your bed with your pillow just under your shoulders
  2. With legs and feet together, draw your feet up until your knees are bent similarly to the way it is shown in the picture.
  3. 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.
  4. Hold for a count of 5 if you are able. If not, hold for a lower count.
  5. Slowly lower your feet and knees back to the starting position.
  6. As you do these repetitions, concentrate on tightening your abdominal muscles throughout the entire repetition.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Your Feedback is Welcome

4.6 out of 5 stars from 7 ratings of Easy Abdominal Exercise for Out of Shape

© 2014 Nancy Owens


Submit a Comment
  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    6 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Nancy, this seems like a very doable exercise, and you're right if you can feel slight pain in your abdominal muscles the next day it must be working. Thank for sharing.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    The minute I finished reading your hub I ran to my bed and tried this ab exercise! Boy, could I feel my core muscles straining to complete all 5 reps. :) I love it! Thanks so much. Voted 5 *, up, useful, awesome, interesting and will share.

  • profile image

    Lissa B 

    6 years ago

    Please, keep this kind of article coming. Lots of us can't do even the exercises labeled "beginner" on fitness sites. I want to get in shape, but if I can't do the exercises sites recommend, I feel hopeless. This kind of thing is a great motivator and encourages even the heaviest of us. There ARE things we can do to build strength, we just have to find them.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Happy to hear you like this one. I have a goal of reaching out to people who may be feeling a little hopeless when it comes to getting back into shape. For those who are challenged by having become very out of shape, these types of exercises may help them to build a foundation for working up to the more strenuous types of fitness challenges.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Thx so much!!

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Dear Alphadogg16 :

    Thank you for checking in. I have yet again been absent and finally finished this hub today after starting it a couple of months ago. I am so glad that you get where I am coming from when talking about this subject. I respect your vast knowledge in the fitness training arena and thank you for being so kind and compassionate to a do-it-yourself person in the get-fit realm. I enjoy reading your work and I gain a lot of good ideas from your Hubs about nutrition in relation to creating muscle density and fitness. You are one of the people I look up to for encouragement and inspiration. As I told FlourishAnyway, I am working to encourage and reach out to "normal" people who may feel a bit hopeless in their efforts to change their bodies. I have been thinking that I need to rework some of my titles, though.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Hello, FlourishAnyway ! I am sorry I have been inactive for so long. You are one of the consistent people I aspire to be more like. Yes! It is physically difficult to make one's body do the movements when one is very overweight, or very weak from inactivity. My goal with these Hubs is to reach out to those who feel alienated by all the hype on television about having to do these super challenging workouts in order to begin to begin at getting fit. Thank you for the very nice comment. See Alphadogg16 's comment as he seems to be a compassionate expert in this area.

  • Nancy Owens profile imageAUTHOR

    Nancy Owens 

    7 years ago from USA

    Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to comment on my Hub, billybuc! Your words are very kind.

  • Alphadogg16 profile image

    Kevin W 

    7 years ago from Texas

    Nice hub Nancy Owens, as severely overweight people will normally lack strength, range of motion and mobility. Body weight exercises and water aerobics, as the water supports their weight and takes stress off the joints, are good starting points for the obese/overweight. Thumbs up on your hub.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    Everyone starts somewhere. It's good that you have provided this for those who need it.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Thankfully this is not my problem, but great information.


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