Two-week Abdominal Programme

Nicola Georgia Training | @nicollllla by Nicola Georgia Training | @nicollllla 21 November 2019

Follow a personal trainer's journey on a two-week ab blitz that can be performed in the convenience of your own home

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Two-week Abdominal Programme

Firstly, let's explain your trunk and what it does. Your trunk is made up of different layers of muscles: deep muscles and superficial muscles (muscles on the surface). 

The transverse abdominis is the deepest of the core muscles. Its function is to stabilise the lumbar spine pelvis before the movement of limbs occurs.

The rectus abdominis plays a vital postural role, facilitates the movement of the torso and spine, and ensures a neutral position of the pelvis.

The external obliques, which run on either side of the rectus abdominis, allow the trunk to twist. So, if you are moving correctly, your left external oblique will contract the internal oblique muscles. The internal oblique muscles flank the rectus abdominis and are located just inside the hipbones. They operate in the opposite way to the external oblique muscles. For example, twisting the trunk to the left requires the left internal oblique and the right external oblique to contract together.

Your core is so much more than just a six-pack and worth a lot more than a 'few crunches' at the end of a workout. It's responsible for our everyday movements, helps us breathe efficiently, helps us achieve good posture, and allows us to build strength. Make it purposeful.

Functionality and Performance

The reason I'm creating this is to encourage people to put a different lens on the way they view their abdominal work. No matter your age, occupation, lifestyle or fitness goals, this applies to you. My aim is to urge my clients to appreciate their core for its significant role in their movements and understand the benefits of having a strong core for more than just an aesthetics project.

Your core is at the centre of your body for a reason. Your core is instrumental in sagittal, frontal and transverse plains of movement. From those everyday movements to performance work, it is a strong core that will ease and enhance these movements.

Think of your body as a chain running from your fingertips to your toes. If you have a weak link in the chain, it won't function as well as it could. Your core muscles are the base of support for your entire body. A weak core can be the root cause of many injuries and can even affect the ease of your breathing.

During push-ups, are your hips sagging? Is your lower back arching? Is your stomach is touching the ground first? In deadlifting does your back take the load and cause you pain, or are you forced to hunch forward and extend your back?

Core strength can also be responsible for your endurance or persistence in an exercise, even if that exercise is not isolating your abdominals.

It's my aim to encourage people to familiarise themselves with how to activate their trunk muscles. You may think you are working your core thoroughly in compound training, but if you lack the activation of that muscle group, you will be placing dominance elsewhere.

A lot of personal trainers say, 'engage your core.' Having taught children for years, I know that saying that doesn't really work. Not even with adults. If someone doesn't know what that feels like, how are they going to 'just engage their core'? How can I explain it?

If I'm explaining an exercise to my clients, I tell them to imagine I am about to punch them in the stomach. Go on do it now. Imagine I'm coming in with a huge punch and you brace your core in preparation for the impact. Your core is now engaged.

For lower-body movements, another way to do this is to focus on pulling up your pelvic floor muscles with each repetition (pretend you have to pee and that you need to hold it). This will engage the deep transverse abdominis muscles.

You must familiarise yourself with what this feels like and allow yourself to explore different exercises; both isolation and compound exercises that include core engagement. It's important to exercise the core in compound movements as it plays a key role of stabilising, therefore is consistently working, utilising the chain of movement and exercising the reliance of our limbs on the core.

OK, so what exercises are best to engage our core? Some of my favourites are explosive moves, which recruit your entire core to stabilise and propel you, resulting in maximum ab engagement. 

Balancing can indirectly work the abdominals by turning them on to help stabilise your body. For example, single-leg deadlifts fire up your obliques to keep you balanced as you hinge from your hips and extend one leg behind you while lowering a weight toward the floor with the opposite hand.

In running, when you run fast or up hills, your arms have to move quickly to help propel you, and this requires your abs to work harder.

I personally love slamming or throwing a dead ball for ab engagement. Exercises like the overhead ball toss and the lunge with rotational ball toss steady the pelvis and lower body to keep you supported while you toss the ball, and they help you accelerate as you throw and decelerate as you catch.

Remember, it's important to maintain good form in every move and, if you are not confident in your technique then you will increase your risk of injury.

Finally, please note that this programme is to supplement your current training programme as a two-week abdominal focus. This programme consists of five days per week and can be done at any time of day. Remember to rest for two out of seven days from this programme.

Week 1

Day 1

Equipment needed: Small resistance band, medicine ball, plate

Method: 16 repetitions each exercise/1 set on each exercise/2 rounds

Single leg crunch

Russian twists (don't cross your legs over as it disengages your adductors)

Resistance band upper body hold (with straight arms) and single-leg dead-bug

Overhead walking lunge (holding plate out in front of you, dipping it to your left side then right side before stepping forward for the next lunge)

Windscreen wipers

Day 2

Equipment needed: Plate, dead ball

Method: Tabata training - 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest/4 sets on each exercise/1 round

Jack knife with heavy plate

Bench hops

Dead ball slams

Russian twist with a plate

Day 3

Equipment needed: Swiss ball, a bar for leg raises, medicine ball.

Method: 45 seconds/20 seconds rest/2 sets on each exercise/1 round

Swiss ball pass-throughs

Crunch on a swiss ball

Hanging leg-raises (single leg)

Sit up with a medicine ball hold (full arm extension)

Swiss ball plank 

Day 4

Equipment needed: Swiss ball, bench

Method: 30 seconds/15 seconds rest/3 sets on each exercise/1 round

Right side plank with pulse

Left side plank with pulse

Walkout into reach and hold for 5 counts

Superman position on a bench (one arm, one leg extended in front of you and one behind you)

Single leg crunch with a 2-second hold

Day 5

Equipment needed: None

Method: 60 seconds on every exercise/20 seconds rest/1 set on each exercise/2 rounds

Army crawl plank position

Commandos

Right side plank crunch

Left side plank crunch

Hollow rock

Week 2

Day 1

Equipment needed: Plate, dead ball.

Method: Tabata training - 20 seconds/10 seconds rest/4 sets on each exercise/1 round

Dead ball sit up with overhead slam between legs

V-sits

Russian Twist

Single leg Jackknife with a plate

Bear crawl

Day 2

Equipment needed: Small resistance band, medicine ball

Method: 20 repetitions per exercise/1 set on each exercise/2 rounds

Lunge with medicine ball slam and catch on each side

Single leg crunch with resistance band overhead hold

Woodchop with resistance band (emphasis on obliques)

90-degree crunch (elbows right then left)

Day 3

Equipment needed: Small resistance band, plate, dumbbells

Method: 16 repetitions each exercise/1 set on each exercise/2 rounds

Single leg crunch with a 5-second hold in crunch

Banded plank army crawl

Backwards lunge walks with a plate overhead

Renegade row with dumbbells

Plank with alternate hand and foot off the ground

Day 4

Equipment needed: Ab wheel, swiss ball

Method: 45 seconds/20 seconds rest/2 sets on each exercise/2 rounds

Ab wheel

Swiss ball crunches

Swiss ball side crunches

Ab Wheel

Swiss ball pass-throughs

Day 5

Equipment needed: Dead ball, plate, dumbbells

Method: 45 seconds/15 seconds rest/2 sets on each exercise/2 rounds

Dead ball Russian twists

Elevated push-up and reach with the arm

Jackknife with a heavy plate and crunch

Flutter kicks

Arm extension sit-up with dumbbells (keep legs straight on the ground)

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health care professional.

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