10 Minute Abs (a Workout to Tone your Tummy without Straining Your Back)

Posted on Posted in Exercises, Fitness

One of the biggest complaints that I get from women looking to tone and strengthen their core is that typical ab workouts put strain on their neck and back.  If you experience back or neck pain after your ab workouts, try replacing standard crunches and sit-ups with the exercises below.  Do each exercise for 1 minute for an effective, 10-min ab workout.

 


1. Spinal Balance Sequence (30 seconds each side)

From a tabletop position (on hands and knees) extend your right arm out straight in front of you and your left leg out straight behind you. Hold for a moment to get your balance while keeping your abdominal muscles tight.  Then, draw your right elbow and left knee in to your core to meet beneath your stomach.  Squeeze your abs, then extend out again and repeat.

Modification: Practice holding the balancing pose and keeping your abs tight. Once you’ve mastered the balance pose, add in the crunch.

Demo Video

 


2. Reverse crunches (1 min)

Lie flat on your back on a mat with knees bent and your hands behind your head. Lift your legs and bend your knees to 90 degrees. Keep a space between your chin and chest (looking diagonal towards the ceiling) to avoid straining your neck. As you exhale, pull knees in toward your chest and hold for 2 seconds. As you inhale, slowly lower legs back to starting position, a few inches above the floor. Don’t use your momentum to swing your legs up – use your abdominal muscles.

Demo Video

 


3. Scissor kicks (1 min)

Lie flat on a mat with your back pressed against the floor and arms fully extended to the sides with palms facing down. With a slight bend at the knees, lift your legs up so that your heels are a few inches off the ground.  Lift your left leg up to a 45 degree angle while your right leg is lowered until the heel 2-3 inches from the ground. Switch movements by raising your right leg up and lowering your left leg.

Demo Video

 


4. Weighted Knee Drops (1 min)

Lie flat on your back on a mat with your legs bent and lifted.  Squeeze a medicine ball between your knees (or skip the medicine ball if just starting out) and extend your arms out to the sides. Slowly lower both knees to one side while keeping your lower back against the floor. Pause, then return to the center and repeat on the other side. Continue for 1 min.

Modification: Hold a weight with both hands above your abdomen and slowly lower both knees to one side while keeping your lower back against the floor (no medicine ball).  Pause, then return to the center and repeat on the other side.

Demo Video

 


5. Cross Kicks (1 min)

Support your upper body with your forearms. Keeping your back straight, kick one leg over the other while tightening your abs. To make this exercise more challenging, do not lean back on your arms for extra support.

Demo Video

 


6. Glute Tricep Push (30 seconds each leg)

Come into reverse tabletop with your hands below your shoulders. Lift one leg, dip your elbows down while lowering your butt to the floor and, as as you press up, press your heel out and away from you.

Modification: Balance your upper body on a couch or chair for support and concentrate on the glute push.  Focus first on the glute push and then add the tricep dip.

Demo Video

 


7. Donkey Kicks (30 seconds each leg)

Come into a tabletop position. Lift your knees off the floor and donkey kick your right leg up high, pressing through the heel as you kick up to the ceiling. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

Modification (to make it more challenging): Once you’ve mastered both versions, do a Donkey Kick Ladder by performing 4 high donkey kicks then 4 low donkey kicks (from your forearms). Then do 3 of each, then 2 of each, and then 1.  This involves your arm and shoulder muscles.  Repeat 2-3 times.

Demo Video

 


8. Prone Cobra (10 second hold, 5 second break, Repeat 3X for a total of one minute)

This posture-boosting exercise targets your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, improving your flexibility while also strengthening your core.   Start with a 10-second hold and gradually work up to 20-30 seconds.  Maintaining the hold is what tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles.  To prevent back and neck pain, tighten your glutes and face down toward your mat throughout the hold.

To perform this exercise, lay down on your stomach, face down, with legs straight and arms next to your sides, palms down.  Contract your glutes and the muscles of your lower back while raising your chest, head, arms, and legs off the floor.  Point your thumbs towards the ceiling and face downward to prevent neck strain.  Hold this position for 10 seconds (gradually increasing this time as you build core strength), then rest for 5 seconds and repeat.

Demo Video

 


9. Mountain Climber Sliders (1 min)

You will need paper plates, a towel, or sliders and a slippery floor for this exercise.

Put plates, towels, or sliders under your feet.  Come into a plank position with hands below your shoulders, legs straight and your core tight. Holding the plank position, begin sliding one knee up to your chest then the other.  Increase the pace as your feel comfortable.

Modification: Prop your forearms and/or chest up on a couch or chair to give you more support as you slide your legs.

Demo Video

 


10. Knee to Pike Slides (Bonus Move, 1 min)

You will need paper plates, a towel, or sliders and a slippery floor for this exercise.

Put plates, towels, or slides under your feet.  Come into a plank position with hands below your shoulders, legs straight and your core tight.  Holding the plank position and keeping your abs tight, pull both knees in toward your chest.  Keep your hips low and level as you pull your knees in.  Slide your legs back out to a starting position and then use your abs to bend at the waist, life your hips up, and slide your legs in toward your hands while keeping them straight.

Slide your legs back out and repeat for one minute.

Modification: Work on the knee sliders first, then add in the pike sliders as your feel comfortable.

Demo Video

 


CALL TO ACTION:  Try out this 10 minute ab workout and posts your thoughts below!   If you have other favorite ab exercises that are easy on your neck and back, please share them in the comments section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *