My ab workout the last couple of years has mostly been whatever side benefits those muscles got from gardening, dancing, swimming, or maintaining posture. I don’t think running or biking do much to specifically engage those muscles. I know I do some intense waist exercises while dancing, but that is only 1 – 2 times a month. My gardening activities can be similar to some yoga poses, but are concentrated in the warmer months. Swimming requires engaging my core, however I am supported by the water, so my core is not working as hard as during a plank or crunch.
Three weeks before our most recent trip to the beach, I was belatedly inspired to pay more attention to my abs. My first reaction to myself was that I was too late, but then I figured, why not go ahead and start right away, even if it seemed to late for the beach? I would get some benefit short term and I would probably feel better.
My two youngest daughters had been asking if I would do their ab workout with them. It looked kind of scary to me. Still, at this juncture, I told them if they could accept my modifications to my routine, I would join them and they could coach me some. They were all smiles and enthusiasm.
First, I did their basic routine in the order they listed, at my own speed, while they encouraged me and critiqued my form in ways that it is hard to do yourself. Then, I re-ordered the exercises in a way that would hopefully lead to more success on all of them. I also started making notes on times and repetitions that were reasonably challenging, but no overwhelming.
Push-ups were included with the goal of both helping my swimming and preparing me to avoid injury from spring gardening. I went with the modified, knee-to-ground position so that I could do more than one. With the modified position I can do 2 sets of 8, which is still work, but less stressful and seems to give more potential for building strength.
The goal was to go through the routine 3 times a week. I also quickly concluded that it was better NOT to try to do the exercises right after swimming or other vigorous activity.
I have made a chart of my routine below. There will also be a link to one of the original videos that my girls got many of the exercises from, as well as a short video slideshow of how I manage the movements. Here is a printable pdf of the chart below: THAT FUN FITNESS AFTER 50 AB WORKOUT
|push ups||modified knees||2 sets of 8||stretch - child's pose (very simple "yoga")|
|lemon squeezers||assuming a V position balanced on the buttocks, pull legs in and arms around them, release back to V position||2 sets of 8||stretch laying on back, extending toes and fingers|
|toe touches||lay on back with one leg up in the air, reach opposite arm multiple times, switch leg and arm||16 times each leg||sitting up, point and flex feet|
|cherry pickers||hold body in V shape, but with legs bend and hands clasped together, then twist from side to side touching floor each time||2 sets of 8, count one back and forth as 1||breathe|
|superman pose||laying on belly, raise arms and legs as high as you can and hold||30 seconds||lay on back and hug knees to chest|
|semiphore leg lifts||laying on your back, raise one leg at a time while holding the other leg a couple inches off of the ground, hold for 3 seconds and switch legs||2 sets of 8, each leg once counts as one||stretch gently in sitting position with soles of feet touching each other frog style|
|leg out crunches||sitting up with legs apart, reach for opposite toes alternately||2 sets of 10, once to each leg counts as 1||breathe|
|bear hugs||same as lemon squeezers, but start with arms out sideways and go back to that between each crunch||2 sets of 8||breathe|
|boat hold||hold V shape||10 seconds||lay on back|
|front plank||on elbows||30 seconds||Roleo arms|
|side planks||on elbow of lower arm with bend directly under shoulder, legs slightly bent, when lifting only lower elbow and ankle/foot touching ground, upper arm extended up or over head||30 seconds each side|
Short video slideshow of me demonstrating the exercises:
The original, hard core video my girls got many of the exercises from: P90X – Ab Ripper X
I enjoyed the benefits of this workout while dancing at the beach resort. One of those songs with dance-instruction lyrics came on. The words said, “get down to the ground, how low can you go?” so I twisted down low, with knees bent, Then, I impulsively moved into a crab walk position for a few seconds, followed by twisting around to do a barely managed, full-front push-up. Fortunately, the lyrics gave further instructions and I could get up, pretending like it was all part of the plan. While doing all of this, I didn’t feel particularly graceful or flexible, but hey, I was having fun! And that is one of the reasons I keep doing my best to stay fit. It lets me have more fun in many activities that come up!