I like to keep things simple, however effective. Working out with your own bodyweight and gravity, is something I believe to be smart movement: it’s all you need to stay super fit, in a safe way. However, some intelligent and simple product design to support training can really get my spirits lifted too. Small training tools that I can take along when I travel (and I do this quite a bit!) I especially enjoy to get moving on days I would rather just don’t.
Resistance bands, (self massage) rollers, ankle weights or just some simple water-or sand filled bottles, are enough to add just a tad more challenge and fun to your work out. In the following series of articles ‘simply fit’ we will go through some of my favorite and most effective body-inspired exercises to stay fit, lean and strong, using as little as your own bodyweight and some real simple, cool tools.
In this kick-off, we’ll start with some great and effective abdominal exercises that I do daily to strengthen the core: the very centre of our body that needs to be strong to be able to train all other parts of the body in a balanced manner. The only thing you need is your lovely body and a floor. And gravity. Ok, so far so good - and no money is spent ;-).
Check out these 7 abdominal exercises & win your own BLACKROLL
As you already read in my last article on foam rolling, I like adding a Blackroll to my workouts. Not only to recover faster by ‘rolling it out’ and to shortly warm up, and stimulating my blood circulation, but also to actually use it during my work out to make things more challenging and fun. The following exercises* are inspired by experiences I have collected over the last year, from Pilates and Yoga classes to studying Essentrics . Using the legs as levers, our own body and gravity we’re working on a strong, flat stomach. Simplicity is AWESOME! Check out all the exercises and don't forget to enter the contest to win your own Blackroll!
* Some of these exercises can (also) be executed with the roller, to make it more fun and challenging.
‘Simply Fit’: 7 abdominal exercises
- “Bend, extend” (With Blackroll: place roller underneath hips)
Lay on your back // Bring knees over hips, legs are bent // Inhale, extend legs out forward // Exhale, pull knees back in // Repeat 10 x
- “Quiver leg lift” (From the same starting position as exercise 1.)
Extend legs up (they do not need to be fully straight) // Lower down, until stomach muscles quiver, then bring back up // When using the roller: hold on to the sides of the Blackroll // When on the ground: arms beside the upper body or protecting the lower back by placing your hands underneath the tail/hipbone // Repeat 10 x.
- “Waist thinner” (double leg lift. With Blackroll: place arm on the roller, place it just above the elbow)
Lay on your side // Other hand reaches up towards ceiling or place in front of you or on the hip // Keep the knees and toes ‘kissing’ each other and bring them both up while keeping the legs strong and long, and reaching away from your core // Repeat 10 X on each side.
- “Hip raises, bridging and roll over” (Without/with Blackroll (place under hipbone):
Bridge without Blackroll:
Lay on your back // Bring knees over hips, keep legs straight and reaching for the ceiling // Use arms for stabilization on the floor – keep the neck long and don’t move the neck side to side to protect the vertebrae and muscles in the neck // Lift your hips off of the floor // Repeat 12 x
Bridge with Blackroll:
Lay on your back, arms besides upper body to balance// Place roller underneath the feet // Push the hips up, while engaging the abdominal muscles and pushing feet onto the roll, breath in. Slowly roll down again, breathing out // Repeat 12 x
Now, continue with the ‘roller over’:
From the same position: rolling back with straight legs, try to touch the floor with your toes. This decompresses the spine while creating strong abdomen // Repeat 4 x
- “Roll Curl” Only possible with roll! :)
Get on all fours (hands and knees) // Place the roll just under knees and place the shins on top of the roll // Lengthen your spine, inhale, chest upwards to open the heart, arms are strong and push on floor through the whole surface of the hand and fingers // Pull your belly towards your chest, bringing the knees to your nose // Exhale while pulling in, inhale while rolling back // Repeat 10 x
- “(roller) Swan”
To stretch and strengthen the abdomen, ending the work out:
Yoga ‘cobra – lay on your belly // place hands under the shoulder and push yourself up slowly while keeping the lower stomach muscles engaged to not ‘hang’ into the lower back // Try to straighten the arms fully. It this is not possible, keep them slightly bent // Open the chest, push shoulders back and breath in as you reach the crown of the head up to the ceiling, feeling a nice stretch in the stomach and chest
With roll: same starting position as above // Now place the forearms on the roll and slowly push yourself upwards by putting pressure onto the roll with the forearms, breathing in while rolling up // Repeat 8 x.
- Back bend with roll:
Place the roller under thoracic (middle of the) spine, under the bra line // Forearms rest on the floor or extend them up, overhead // Back bend to release tensions in the stomach muscles and increasing on spinal mobility // Stay here for a couple of deep breaths, breathing deep into the stomach.
Win a BLACKROLL
Want to start rolling right away? Good! I am going to give away two BLACKROLL’s! Here's what you have to do: