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Three New Abdominal Exercises

The idea for this post came to me after my yoga class this morning. Backing up…I usually teach BodyPump on Monday mornings but I received a call at 5:15 a.m. that they were canceling all morning classes because the AC was out at the Y. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “awesome, I can go back to bed” but I was up, the coffee was made and I had the opportunity to start my day with a yoga. I feel terrible for the members who showed up at the Y for BodyPump to find it was canceled – especially after I opted to go to hot yoga and sweat my life away anyway. Bummer. šŸ™

Back to the abs…I took Sunday as a rest day and overall I was feeling pretty amazing after Saturday’s 14-miler. Yoga was going really well this morning – I was happy to find that Emily was there and promptly rolled my mat out next to hers. I was feeling all in my yoga groove until we got to abs. We started with a minute of bicycle and I was all over that…then the torture came. We had to do the hardest ab exercise that also involved hip and leg strength. I looked over at Emily and said, “I am dying. My legs are reeeaaaalllyyy feeling this.” After class I decided that I should share this exercise and a couple other recent favorites from BodyPump with you guys. Promise me you’ll try them!? Let’s all suffer together! šŸ˜€


This is the new exercise that we did in yoga this morning. The first part of the exercise is here (I’m smiling because this is a reenactment!):

Feet are extended in front of you, legs are straight if that feels good (you can also do this with bent knees if that’s what works for you), toes are pointed. Spine should be as straight as possible – squeeze shoulder blades together in the back. Hands are under your shoulders and elbows are squeezing in.

The second part to this exercise is here:

Lower arms and legs. Legs stay straight and you are still squeezing your elbows and shoulder blades together in the back.

Moving with your breath, go from the first position to the second for one minute. Inhale up, exhale down. And then let me know how that feels, okay!? šŸ˜€


This is one of my favorite oblique exercises from BodyPump. I love making my class do long holds in side plank and then add the roll at the end.

This is where you start:

Set up with your feet stacked on top of each other and hips lifting as high as you can. Elbow should be lined up under the shoulder (I see that mine is slightly out! Oops!) and straight line from elbow to wrist. Top hand is pulling up towards the sky and neck is in line with the spine. Hold this for 30-60 seconds before adding the roll.

Here is the roll:

The goal here is to really control your movement. Scoop your top hand under your armpit, continuing to lift the hips and then open back to your starting position. Try not to lose any of the lift in your hips while you’re rolling. Repeat the roll (slowly) 5-10 times.


And our final abdominal exercise is the compact crunch. This was part of the ab track in BodyPump 73 and I love it. I really feel this one in my lower abs and who doesn’t like that feeling?

Set position is here:

Hands behind the ears and feet lifted – heels towards your bottom.

Lift your hips and shoulder blades off the mat simultaneously to perform the compact crunch.

Really focus on lifting your shoulder blades and your tail bone off the mat while you’re pressing your belly down into the mat. Think about belly button to spine.Ā  Make sure to keep your heels as close to your bottom as possible.

This isn’t a quick movement – take your time with this, crunching up and down to an even count. You can even play with crunching up, holding it and then slowly releasing. Do this in sets of 10 reps, trying to vary your speed in each set.

Working your abdominals doesn’t have to be all about traditional crunches and sit ups. There are tons of different ways to target all the different muscles in you abs. I hope you guys enjoyed this post. Please let me know if you try any of these and how they feel!

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Jessie August 30, 2010, 9:57 pm

    I just tried that side plank move for the first time in Tanner’s class this weekend and it was no joke. I couldn’t do it! I can’t wait until I work my way to it.

  • 2
    Josie August 30, 2010, 10:05 pm

    Thanks for the exercises – I really hate those side planks from Body Pump!! I am really trying to get my core back in shape before having another baby. I really think a strong core makes for an easier pregnancy!

  • 3
    Christina August 30, 2010, 10:17 pm

    Excited to try these! Will be good for the wedding tone up workout. I love that you did these in your yard (:

    • 4
      Jen September 2, 2010, 11:15 am

      Christina – our neighbors were out on their porch while I did this in my front yard. They were definitely giving me some strange looks!

  • 5
    Yin August 31, 2010, 10:00 am

    Thanks for the ab exercises! Been looking for something else to do besides crunches šŸ™‚

  • 6
    becca August 31, 2010, 12:59 pm

    loving your more recent posts! showing us how to do things is awesome (and it’s nice to see that even those that practice all the time sometimes fall!). and i mean that in the nicest way possible – promise! excited to try these ab exercises; abs have always been one of my favorite things to work out…

    • 7
      Jen September 2, 2010, 11:14 am

      thank you becca!!!!

  • 8
    Anjeanette September 13, 2010, 1:51 pm

    Iā€™m glad you mention side plank. That is one of the best poses for the core and arms. Yoga guru Leeann Carey has a free yoga video that breaks down Vasisthasana. Thought your readers might want to take a look: http://planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/index.php/free-yoga-video-side-plank-pose/

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