This 150 Second Ab Makeover is a quick but very powerful series of six core strengthening exercises with the inevitable side effect of flat abs!
Every new student at Concord Pilates receives a handout of this 150 Second Ab Makeover and I'm going to show you some of the exercises to all of you today.
It can be difficult to learn movements just by looking at pictures, so I will do it with you. In this video you will learn the full version and in the second video I'm going to give you a few modifications and variations that you can use if the full version is a bit too daunting for you just yet.
Okay, let's get started
The first exercise is:
Lay down on your back, arms at your side. Bring your chin to your chest, extend your legs outward, make sure your back is flat on the mat and inhale while counting to 5, exhale to 5.
Continue like this for a total of 10 breaths, which equals 100 counts.
Single Leg Stretch
Bring your right knee into the chest, left leg extended out. Switch twice (inhale, inhale) Switch twice (exhale, exhale). Breathe in for two counts and out for two counts, in for two, out for two.
Double Leg Stretch
Bring both knees into the chest and inhale. Reach arms and legs out and exhale. Together, inhale. Extended, exhale. Continue three more times.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Extend your legs straight up, hold your right leg, lower your left leg and pull the right leg towards you twice (pull pull) Inhale to scissor and pull the leg towards you (pull, pull). Inhale scissor, exhale to pull. Repeat for seven more breaths.
Double Straight Leg Stretch
Both legs go up, heels together, toes apart. Support your head with your hands and lower your legs down exhale, bring them up as you inhale. Exhale down, belly is flat, spine is flat on the floor and inhale up. Continue for 5 more breaths.
Bring your knees into the chest and twist the shoulder girdle while you extned the opposite leg. Switch twice on one inhalation, and twice on one exhalation. Inhale for two counts and exhale for two counts. Repeat for three more breaths. This is about as much as I can do, last breath and come to center and relax down.
Please take a look at the second video below:
In 150 Second Ab Modifications I show you variations, for instance if curling up for such a long time bothers your neck, or if these exercises hurt your lower back.
If you have a tender neck when you're in a curled up position and it starts to bother your neck, I would definitely recommend grabbing something like the Franklin ball to place underneath your head. Just rest your head on it, very passively, and don't even worry about curling your chest up.
From this position you are able to do the whole series by extending your legs out. Begin with The Hundred, Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Single Straight Leg, Double Straight Leg. This all works beautifully with the ball and really allows you to focus and keep your belly and spine down and flat on the floor. The only thing that might be a little tricky is the Criss Cross, so after resting your neck for the first five exercises, remove the ball to do the full version of the Criss Cross. If that version is uncomfortable and your neck still bothers you, then just skip the Criss Cross until your abdominals are strong enough for you to keep your head up without any strain.
Take your neck very seriously, even more so than your abdominals. In the beginning, if your abdominals are weak and the neck feels strained, then we have to modify and find a way that really works and doesn't put more strain on the body. Remember, you're doing this because you want to get rid of back pain or neck pain! There's no point in doing these exercises to add strain. By the way, an excellent way to do very effective abdominal work without the strain of the neck can be performed on the Spine Corrector. Ask me about it at the studio, I'll show you what I mean.
The other issue if you have lower back problems, you really need to make sure your spine is on the floor. For instance, when both legs are up and you begin to lower them down, the spine may lift up off of the floor in an arch. If this happens and you feel yourself rolling over the back of the pelvis, then it's just your hip flexors working and not your abdominals. The hip flexors attach on the inner thigh and go all the way to your lower back. If lowering your legs pulls the back off the floor and your abdominals are not working enough to pull them down again, and that can really strain your lower back. If you have a hard time keeping the back flat on the mat, then lower your legs only a tiny bit.
In the Hundred, if your back comes off the mat, just keep your legs straight up. Or you can bend your knees, or even bring your feet to the floor. it doesn't matter, because either way you are still working your abdominals.
In Single Leg Stretch, bring the legs much higher up because if the abs are weak, the lower the legs go, the more strain is put on your back. Try it out to feel the difference and to find which position makes your abs work harder, because that's what we want.
In Double Leg Stretch, bring the legs up instead of forward. That alone may be difficult enough.
I hope this was helpful for you. Keep practicing, and remember it's just 2-3 minutes a day! I like the motto, "Do less, but more often.”
If you need help, I'm here for you, so feel free to get in touch.
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