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Keeping Your Abs Toned, Even if You’ve Only Got a Few Minutes
Running shoes are usually compact enough to fit into even the tiniest carry-on, and swim goggles and trunks count among the most minimalistic of accessories – it’s still challenging to block off the time to actually focus on your daily ab workouts while away from home.
Enter the on-the-go abdominal workout.
Aside from the personal space of your own hotel room, the following eight exercises don’t require complicated equipment or a personal trainer. All it takes is diligently and consistently setting aside 15 minutes of your day – morning or night – to hone in on your core. While predominately focused on your abs, you can customize the below routine depending on how much time and effort you want to devote to the sets.
If you still need a shot of extra motivation to get going, remember that even mini-workouts can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase self-confidence, and enhance your ability to make quick decisions. Oh, and before you pack your next carry-on, you might consider adding a pair of running or walking kicks. Evidently, scientists have confirmed that even a short but impactful routine can boost the production of a specific brain protein (BDNF), resulting in increased mental functioning. Pretty lucrative, especially if you can pack it in while still in your hotel room, and before that next critical meeting.
If you can swing it, add a teensy bit of weight – just over a pound — to your suitcase and bring an ab wheel This little device works the core muscles in your lower torso, as well as the main stomach area.
Once you’re ready to begin, kneel on the floor and hold the wheel by the handles, positioned directly underneath your shoulders. Next, engage your abs and roll forward. Take it slowly, keep a slight forward bend in your waist, and don’t go past the point where you can’t roll yourself back up again. Repeat until you lose the ability to maintain good form.
Whether you’re a die-hard yoga fan or not, this one pose carries impressive power: it helps give you rock-hard abs.
Unlike sit-ups or crunches, the plank pose is all about holding still – simple-sounding, yet challenging and immediately rewarding: if you’re able to hold the pose, you’ll definitely feel the burn in your abdominal region.
Think of this like a push-up, but instead of pushing up over and over again, you push up and then stay there in the “up” position. Hold it for 30-60 seconds to strengthen your abs and core.
This one is great for your lower abs, and perfectly suited to the confines of a hotel room. Lie flat on your back and reach your hands above your shoulders so you can hold onto something that will keep you from sitting up when you raise your legs. A heavy office chair or desk leg should do the trick.
Next, keep your legs straight and raise them in tandem until the bottoms of your feet are pointed at the ceiling. Lower them almost to the floor, but not quite (take them down as close to an inch or two above the ground) before raising them again. Repeat as many times as you can while maintaining good form.
The key to this exercise is to repeat the rep at least 12-15 times. To get started, lie on your back and extend your legs up, keeping your knees slightly bent. Contract your abs – you should be able to feel your muscles tighten immediately — and raise yourself up, slowly, allowing your shoulder blades to leave the floor. While making sure your neck stays still, move your torso toward your knees. Hold for a few beats, then lower yourself back to your starting position.
This is another move from the world of yoga. To begin, start on your hands and knees. Stare at a fixed point on the floor for balance, and as you extend your arm forward, simultaneously extend the opposite leg backward. Hold for a few seconds and alternate sides. Breathe through your nose, and synchronize your breath with your movements. Yoga’s a great way to focus your mind, and this pose will definitely bring your abs into focus.
Researchers at San Diego State University studied the most popular abdominal exercises to try to decipher which ones worked, and which were less effective. The bicycle crunch landed among the top three – along with a few others which, although solid, require non-portable fitness equipment, making them a bit tricky to perform while on the road.
Lie flat on the floor, making sure your lower back is pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your head – cradle style – and lift your knees to a 45-degree angle. Begin pedaling in the air. For maximum effect, rotate your elbows to opposite knees as you pedal.
Most trainers recommend the traditional amount of reps and frequency for this one: start with three sets of 15, and depending on comfort and allotted time, increase accordingly.
OK, this one also starts off with you lying on your back. Raise your legs into the air, and separate your feet by about a foot – creating the V shape which, clearly, this exercise is named after. Point your toes, and bring your hands together in the middle of your chest. Now, lift your head, shoulders and back off the floor while straightening your arms, pushing your hands between your legs. Lower back to starting position, and repeat.
Back by popular demand, the classic push-up is probably the most frequently used method of ab strengthening – but can also be the one that is performed with the most inaccuracies in terms of recommended position. The key thing to remember is that the stiffer you can hold your body, the more you are working your abs. So, hold still.
Once you’re in position, make sure you’re balancing on your toes, body straight and lowered above the ground. Contract your abs and move toward the floor, keeping the body as parallel to the ground as possible. Repeat for as many reps as you can muster.