Donna’s Favorite Abdominal Exercises

Although I mix up my routine quite frequently, these are a few of my favorite core-strengthening exercises. They are definitely a bit more challenging and sure to keep you from getting bored from the
traditional crunches.

Hanging Knee RaisesIMG_5762
When I first started doing these I was not strong enough to support myself, putting a strain on my shoulders so I started using arm slings until I gained some strength and experience.

These will work all of the muscles of your midsection as well as your lats, hip flexors, upper back, forearms and shoulders as well as improving your grip strength.

Hang from a pull-up bar with arms extended and using an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Make sure your arms are completely straight and feet and not touching the ground. Contract your core pulling your knees up to your chest. Avoid swinging and hyperextending your lower back and keep your torso as stable as possible.

Traditional Plank

IMG_5658Mastering this basic plank will not only improve your overall core strength and stability but improve your overall athleticism. It’s important to have a neutral head and spine and no arched back. Flex your abdominals, squeeze your glutes, and never let your hips sag. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds or until your form is compromised. Once you have the basic mastered, you can add in variations to give you a more challenging workout. 


TRX Ab Plank and Crunch

Start with TRX straps about 12” from the ground. Put feet in the loops and get into a standard high plank. Pull your knees up to your chest. Add another depth to your exercise by adding in a push-up when in the plank position.

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Reverse Crunch
A trainer friend of mine showed me these and I love them! These are a great exercise for targeting the lower abdominals. It took me a few times of trial and error to perfect the movement and really get the feel for them.  Always remember, when you try a new exercise, it may take a while to get it right.  Don’t give up.. keep practicing until you succeed!
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Lie on a bench with your head at the end and your hands gripping the sides of the bench, keeping your elbows in. Roll up on your upper back, with your knees pulled into your chest. Inhale. While exhaling and keeping your body stable as possible, push your feet out and up toward the ceiling at an angle. Keep repeating that movement as many reps as possible.
(photography by Mackenzie Martin)


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