Abdominal strength helps us maintain good posture and balance, and minimizes pain and injury. The abdominus rectus (abs) is divided into two sections, upper abdominals, and lower abdominals. The lower abs are often stimulated by lower body movement, but we rarely incorporate lower body movement while lying on our backs in a tabletop, flat-back position. Here’s Brit’s 5-minute lower ab routine for anywhere.
*No equipment needed. Practice each movement for 1 minute, then rest 20 seconds between before move onto the next movement.
Bird Dog (00:00)
Bird dogs promote good posture, increase range of motion, and relieve low back pain.
How to: Get into tabletop position. Look straight ahead. Press your palms into the floor. Pull your shoulders back. Press the tops of your toes into the floor. At the same time, lift and extend your arm forward and your opposite leg backward. Reach through the tip of your fingers and the tip of your toes. Keep your hips parallel to the floor. At the same time, bring your palm and knee back to the floor. Pause. Alternate sides.
Dead Bug with Resistance (2:40)
Similar to bird dogs, dead bugs improve posture and relieve low back pain. However, dead bugs are a safer way to strengthen abdominal muscles and improve overall balance and stability.
How to: Rig a resistance band around a pole or place a resistance band around your knees. Lie on your back. Press your shoulders and lower back into the floor. Raise your knees and arms to 90 degrees. If you rigged a resistance band around a pole, grab the band with both hands. Create tension by moving away from the post. At the same time, extend your arm backward and your opposite leg forward until both are inches off the ground. Bring your arm and leg back to the start position. Pause. Alternate sides.
Low Bear Crawl (1:20)
The bear crawl is a full-body exercise, working your shoulders, chest, abdominals, and leg muscles. When practiced at a faster, efficient pace, the bear crawl improves cardiovascular and respiratory functions.
How to: Get into tabletop position. Press your palms through the floor. Tuck your toes underneath. Lift your knees an inch or two off of the ground. At the same time, step forward and move and plant the palm forward. Convert steps into a crawl by continuously alternating sides for 40 feet. Maintain tabletop, flat-back position.
Wicked Hollow Hold (5:00)
The hollow hold position stabilizes your lower back muscles for daily movement. When practiced with good form, the hollow hold strengthens your glutes, hip flexors, and lower abdominal muscles to maintain spinal alignment.
How to: Lie on your back. Put the sides of your feet together. Lift and stretch your arms above your head. Press your lower back into the floor and maintain contact with the floor throughout the movement. Lift your arms, upper back, and thighs off of the floor. Tuck your chin into your chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Relax.
Consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying these movements.