A special thanks to my girls at Xtend Barre in Provo! If you have on in your area, you should definitely give it a try!
This is one of my favorite full body exercises because every inch of your body is working to keep you aligned and in good form. To do the exercise, stand up straight and put your hands over your head as if you were going to dive into a pool with perfect form. As you keep your arms pointed out above your head, bend your waist and lower your upper in front of you until your chest is parallel (or as close to parallel as you can) with the floor. As you lean forwards balance yourself by raising one of your legs behind you and slightly bending the leg on the ground.. Try to keep your back (raised) leg as straight as possible. The closer you can get to looking like the letter “T” from the side the better! Try and hold it with the best form possible for 10-15 seconds, then stand up and alternate legs. Do 5-6 with each leg.
Running Bicycle Crunch
I feel like this one always gives me a great ab workout! Get down as if you were going to do a pushup with your arms a little more than shoulder width apart, your feet together and your back straight from your shoulders to your ankles. Now use your abs to pull one knee upwards towards your stomach/chest then drive it back to its starting position. As soon as your foot is back in its starting position do the same with your other knee/leg. Together this makes one rep. Make sure that you use your abs to pull your knee up rather than your leg/thigh muscles. Also, throughout the exercise hold your abs tight by flexing your stomach, then imagine trying to pull your bellybutton back towards your spine. Do 4 sets of 20.
Start out in pushup position and rotate your torso 90 degrees while lifting one of your arms towards the ceiling. Try to hold your body as straight and flat as possible and focus on using your obliques (the long muscles that go down your sides and frame your abs) and core to keep you stabilized. Hold for 30 seconds and do 3-5 times on each side. If you find it’s too hard to keep good form, lower yourself by resting on your elbow/forearm and knees instead of your hands an feet. *Note – It’s sometimes hard to tell if you’re keeping good form since you can’t see your whole body at once so feel free to have a friend watch the first few times to help.
This one always gets me! Start by sitting on the floor with your legs bent in front of you and your arms extended in front parallel to the ground. Lower your upper body backwards while extending your legs in front of you. Without resting on the floor raise your body back up to starting position to complete one repetition. Do 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions. As much as possible, try not to push your stomach out as your muscles contract. Instead, try to hold them flat like on the bicycle crunch
Super Leg Lifts
From sitting position put you hands behind you and lift your butt off the ground. Lift one leg towards the ceiling using your abs and not your leg muscles. As much as possible try to keep your leg and back straight. Do 2-3 sets of 10 lifts on each leg. If you’re a beginner just lift your foot to shoulder level instead of above your head. Also, if you’re pregnant or have an injury to your back you can place a ball or pillow behind you to give you extra support.
A key to all of these exercises is to keep good form and use your core to do the movements. That way you’ll avoid injury and strengthen your whole body.