By Matt Evans published
Hate lying on the floor when doing crunches and sit-ups? For some of us, these exercises can be quite painful, as you're pressing your spine against a flat, hard surface, which can cause discomfort in your spine and tailbone. If this is you, don't fret: we've got just the thing.
If you've been looking for an abs workout you can do while staying on your feet and knees, this is the routine for you. Barreworks' founder (and SAS: Who Dares Wins competitior) Vicki Anstey has created this low-intensity, barre-inspired core workout exclusively for Fit&Well.
"Often, we think about all our abdominal work being on the floor, and often lying on our backs," says Vicki. "I'm going to take you through a routine which is tough on your core and your whole body, but you're going to be kneeling on the floor instead."
Watch Vicki's workout here:
Why do this workout?
These slow dips and holding the position with your weights in the air, stretching your abdominals, is perfect for anyone, but especially active over 50s. As you age, you need to be careful, as sit-ups and crunches place lots of pressure on your spine, and muscle and bone health deteriorates with age, making you more prone to injury.
A Harvard University study says "[sit-ups] push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort."
Instead, Anstey's workout allows you to stay upright and uses slow, controlled movements that work your obliques, or 'side abs', as well as general core strength and balance muscles, keeping you upright. A strong core and lower back improves your body weight distribution in old age, stopping too much fat from collecting around your middle and even preventing falls in later life, according to studies.
More core workouts
One of the best core workouts that doesn't compress your spine on the floor is the plank. Planks, like the workout above, are an isometric exercise, relying on contracting your muscles to hold the same position for an extended period of time.
You can improve core strength, stability, your lower back and more without putting any pressure on your hips. It's as good as any ab workout, too: A 2016 clinical trial found a workout programme of only planks was just as good as a workout consisting of a variety of abdominal moves. Want to learn to plank properly? Our guide on how to do the plank is the perfect starting point.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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