When I was setting up the mapmyrun app on my phone, it had an option to set an auto post to facebook, and you can have a message post with it. Well, what would I want to always post as the message? I ended up with “What’s next?” It’s just that feeling after you accomplish something. You feel like you can accomplish anything. You can conquer the world. I ran a 5K this morning, and I felt like I could have gone again when I was done.
Last month, I organized and abs challenge on Weight Watchers. Lots of people joined. One person posted on my wall that they have never finished a challenge before, but they stuck to this one and it has totally given them confidence. Isn’t that awesome? Well, the challenge was so popular, and I don’t have the washboard abs just yet, so I am setting up another challenge for May. Anyone stumbling on this post is welcome to join the fun!!
Here are the details, should you choose to accept this challenge:
1 Old school:
Starting Position – Lie on your back with an inflated balance board/disc underneath your lower to mid back (optional), your feet flat on the floor, legs together, and arms crossed in front of your chest. Engage your abs and push your lower back into the disc beneath you.
Action – EXHALE: Using the abdominals, “crunch” up by lifting your head, neck and tops of your shoulder blades away from the floor. INHALE: With control, slowly lower to the start position to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck tucked in toward your chest while crunching up to help reduce neck strain. Do not attempt this exercise on a wooden or hard-surface balance board.
Make it easier: Instead of crossing your arms at your chest, place your hands behind your head/neck for support.
2 Leg Raises:
Starting Position – Lie on the floor/mat on your back. Keep lower back in contact with the floor, feet and legs straight and together. Place hands to sides or under lower back for support.
Action – Keeping legs straight and together, back flat, lift legs upward until they are straight above hips. Lower down to starting position slowly and with control (but do not allow feet to touch the ground between reps) to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – Make sure back stays flat on floor and abs are tight (pull navel in towards spine).
3 Bicycle Crunches:
Starting Position – Begin by lying on your back, placing your hands behind your ears. Do not put your hands clasped behind your head. Lift your legs in the air and bend your knees so that your legs form a 90 degree angle.
Action – Move your legs in a bicycle motion. When your left knee is closer to your body, reach your right elbow to it. When your right knee is closer to your body, reach your left elbow to it. Try performing the exercise for 60 seconds in 2 sets.
Special Instructions – None.
Starting Position – Lie on floor with legs together, arms extended overhead, belly button pulled in toward spine.
Action – Keeping head between arms, slowly raise upper body and legs off floor to form a gentle bananalike curve. Hold for a slow 30 counts.
Special Instructions – Don’t hold your breath! Try to keep breathing steady and even. Concentrate on holding abs in.
5 Abs Roll out with Wheel:
(alternative if no roller – use towel or sliders)
Starting Position – Kneel on a mat with your knees hip-width apart, hands grasping the ab wheel handles, arms directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your back flat and your abs engaged (belly button pulled up and in away from the floor).
Action – INHALE: Roll the wheel straight in front of you as you lower your hips toward the ground so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. EXHALE: Using your abdominals, slowly roll the wheel back in until you reach the starting position to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – Keep your arms straight and your shoulders away from your ears at all times. Only roll as far forward as you can while still maintaining good form. Do not allow the hips to drop toward the floor or the lower back to arch.
6. Back Extension:
Starting Position – Lie facedown, legs together and extended straight, arms bent with hands behind neck, head and neck in a neutral position.
Action – EXHALE: Lift the upper body (chest, shoulders) off of the ground, “crunching” towards the hips. Hold for 1-2 counts at highest position. INHALE: Slowly lower with control to start to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – This is a very small movement– don’t move further than you can naturally and easily. Keep legs squeezed together, hips on floor. There should be no movement from your hips to your toes.
Note – This is not a direct abs exercise, but it will help strengthen your core!
7 Kayaks with Medicine Ball:
Starting Position – Hold a medicine ball (or dumbbell) and sit on the floor with shoulders relaxed, arms extended, legs hip-width apart, heels on the floor, knees bent and back straight. Pull your abs in tight, and with a straight back, lean back from the hips until you feel your abs engage. Hold that position and lift both feet off the floor (pictured).
Action – INHALE: Keeping feet off the floor, abs engaged, and arms extended, twist from the waist to the left side. EXHALE: Twist back to the center (starting position). INHALE: Twist to the right side. EXHALE: Return to the starting position to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – Keep your abs pulled in, shoulders relaxed, and feet off the floor. Focus on twisting from the waist, allowing your upper torso and arms to turn with you. Keep the lower body as still as possible. Keep your back long and flat at all times.
Make it easier: Don’t lean back as far. Use a lighter weight or no weight. Hold the weight closer to your torso.
Make it harder: Lean back and/or twist farther.
8 Advanced Wood Chop:
Starting Position – Hold a medicine ball and stand tall with your legs straight, feet hip-width apart, hips centered and abs engaged. Keeping your lower body planted and torso square, extend your arms overhead and toward the right side of your head (pictured).
Action – EXHALE: Without twisting from the waist or moving your hips or feet, slice the medicine down on a diagonal toward your opposite (left) hip. INHALE: Without twist or bending, return your arms back up to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat on this side and then switch sides to complete first set.
Special Instructions – You should master the Classic Wood Chop exercise before trying this version, which requires greater core strength and stabilization. The idea behind this exercise is to keep your body, torso and core strong and stable as you swing your arms across the diagonal. Don’t let your body twist, bend or pivot while the arms move. Keep the arms as straight as possible and your shoulders relaxed at all times.
Starting Position – Stand with feet together, arms at sides, and gaze at a spot on the ground about 5 feet ahead for balance.
Action – Lift left foot back, bending forward until left leg and chest are parallel to ground. Extend arms out as shown. Hold for 3 counts. Repeat for all repetitions and switch sides.
Special Instructions – Be sure to keep a flat back (parallel to floor) and concentrate on keeping abs tight.
10 Dumbbell Side Bends:
Starting Position – Stand with feet shoulder width apart, holding dumbbells. Knees should be slightly bent.
Action – EXHALE: Bend trunk to the left to a comfortable position and hold for 2-3 seconds. INHALE: Return to starting position and repeat to right side.
Special Instructions – Don’t let your weight take you forward or backwards
11 Clamshell Crunch with Ball:
Starting Position – Sit on a mat and place a stability ball between your legs (at your calves/ankles). Squeezing the ball in place, lie back onto the floor, keeping your feet just off the ground, knees bent. Make sure your lower back stays planted and your abs are tight. Place your hands lightly behind your ears in a crunch position.
Action – EXHALE: Simultaneously lift your shoulders off the ground and your knees into your chest to perform a double crunch. INHALE: Slowly return to start to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – Don’t let momentum swing your knees up for you. Be sure your hands are not lifting your upper body– concentrate on using abs.
12 Back Extension with Ball:
Starting Position – Begin very close to a wall, facing away from it. Pull the ball into your legs as close to your body as possible. Keep your toes firmly on the ground and the soles of your feet flat on the wall behind you. Straighten legs so that weight is evenly distributed between your feet (at the wall) and the ball. Adjust the ball if necessary so that it is under your hips. Place your hands behind your ears or across your chest.
Action – EXHALE: Extend from your hips- Bringing your torso upward toward the wall as high as possible. Hold for 1-3 counts. INHALE: Slowly return to starting position to complete one rep.
Special Instructions – Make sure your feet are flat on the wall and that your weight is pressed into them for stability.
13 Kneeling Rollout with Ball:
Starting Position – Kneel in front of the ball. Place your hands atop the Swiss ball and bring your feet off the ground. Bring your navel in toward your spine. Walk your hands out on the ball, moving both the ball and your arms away from your body. Once you feel your abdominal muscles working, you are in the starting position.
Action – Your hands should stay stationary on the ball. Pivot from your knees, bringing your torso and hips forward as the ball rolls away from your knees. Keep moving until your chest drops down, keeping your chest as upright as possible, without hyper extending your lower back. Keep your spine in a neutral position. Hold the furthest position comfortably for a couple seconds and roll back to starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.
Special Instructions – If you feel any strain in your lower back, return to the starting position and check your form. If you continue to feel any strain, stop the exercise.
14 Jackknife with Ball:
Starting Position – Start behind the Swiss ball, place your midsection on the ball and roll forward until your hands reach the floor. Walk out with your hands until the ball is underneath your ankles. Have your hands just outside of shoulder width.
Action – Hold the push-up position and retain a strong core. EXHALE: Bend at the knees and pull the ball up towards your torso, bringing your knees to your chest. Keep the movement smooth and don’t drop your hips or raise your lower back. INHALE: Extend your legs back to the starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.
Special Instructions – Keep your spine in a neutral position.
Starting Position – Begin this exercise by lying on your stomach with your forearms on the floor pointing straight forward, your feet together and your spine in a neutral position. Your feet should be touching or no more than an inch apart.
Action – Lift your body up on your forearms and toes, keeping your body as straight as possible. Maintain this position for as long as possible and challenge yourself to longer periods in the plank position. Try to hold the position for 60 seconds in the beginning, working your way up in 30 second jumps until you can hold the position for 3 minutes or longer.
Special Instructions – Don’t let your hips/knees drop, your butt raise, or shift weight to one forearm.
The rules of the challenge are that you can do up to 50 reps of each exercise in a day. If you do 50 of all 15, you get 750 points. If you do that 7 days straight, you might not be able to bend over, but you will have 5,250 points. In the WW community, we are split into Red and Blue teams. My bloggers can be a Purple team. Post in the comments if you do the challenge and let me know how it goes!!!