Last one! You’ve done brilliantly, and we hope you’ve enjoyed our boot camp #AdventAbs onslaught.
We keep banging on about this, but it’s worth repeating: we don’t expect you to spend an hour every day exercising – we know it’s not realistic. But you can do yourself so many favours by approaching exercise in bitesize chunks – and all the #AdventAbs exercises are perfect for that.
Why not set yourself little challenges during the Christmas break – see how many reps of a certain exercise you can do during the Queen’s speech, or do a rep every time someone utter’s the word ‘escape’ during the Great Escape…
Whatever you do, we hope you have a great Christmas and we hope to see you in the New Year!
Sit with your feet on the floor, knees bent, hands beneath your knees for support. Keeping your chest lifted and shoulders back, engage your ab muscles and raise your lower legs until they are parallel to the floor (your knees should still be bent) and you are balancing on your sitting bones.
If this feels comfortable, begin to straighten your legs (stop if you feel any discomfort in your back) and stretch your arms forward. Hold for 5–15 breaths, then release. Repeat up to 5 times.
The trick, as with any exercise, is not to rush it and keep your form steady and consistent. Start by standing straight up, and slowly bend your knees, until you’re in a sitting position. Try to reach the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, then slowly stand up straight again. Try varying where you put your arms – either down by your side, outstretched to the side, in front of you, or even up above your head.
Beginner: 3×7 squats
Pro: 4×20, with weights if preferred
Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides. Lift your legs three or four inches from the floor and hold the position. Then slowly raise your legs to a vertical position. This will work your lower abs brilliantly – but lowering the legs will work them even more! Lower your legs slowly – feel the burn! – but don’t let your feet touch the floor. Repeat, five times to begin with, or until your form drops.
Varying the plank
Once you’ve got the plank mastered, you’ll want more from our favourite exercise. Just a few mods can help it reach the parts no other exercises can – still with minimal movement. It’ll leave you with a strong core, brilliant posture and improved balance. What’s not to love?
The side plank
Once you’re in the plank position, trying lifting onto your side, so you’re balanced on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Keep your back straight – no slouching – and hold for a count of 10. Return, carefully, so you’re on your front again, then flip up onto your other side, and again, hold for 10. This works your sides (those love handles!) so is well worth adding in.
Extending the plank
When in the plank position, try lifting one foot from the floor and holding it in position, then alternate. When you’ve mastered that, leave both feet on the floor, but try to plank with one arm tucked behind your back. Then change arms. Now, add both together, so you have only your right forearm, and your left foot touching the floor. Then swap.
The subtle movements and tiny losses of balance all work together to strengthen your core and leave you with great posture.
Opposite Arm and Leg Raise (instructions below):
Beginner: 10 reps
Intermediate: 15 reps
Advanced: 20 reps
Pro: 25 reps
How to do the opposite arm and leg raise:
Begin on all fours, aligning your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders.
Raise your left arm to shoulder height and your left leg to hip height.
Hold for 2 counts, reaching forward with your fingers and back with your heels.
Repeat this exercise on the opposite side.
For a bigger challenge, touch your opposite elbow to your knee as you pull your arm and leg in.