Women over 40 have nothing to fear from trying abdominal exercises done by their younger counterparts. Women lose strength as they age due to lack of muscle use, which is preventable by exercise (See References 1). Women over 50, who are pregnant or have medical conditions that limit exercise may need to follow certain guidelines, but there is nothing that limits other women from ab exercises, except their fitness level.
The tree plank exercise targets abs, as well as shoulders, back and chest. Because muscle starts to decline after age 20 it is beneficial to do ab exercises that work other muscles, too. A a sturdy tree or a wall is needed for the tree plank. To do the exercise, place your feet against a tree trunk a few inches off the ground and your forearms on the ground. Flatten your back and straighten your legs. Position your forearms under your chest and clasp your hands together. Keep your body in this position for 10 to 60 seconds.
The power pledge works your abs, triceps, chest and shoulders. You will need a sturdy chair, bench or parallel bars to do the power pledge. To perform the power pledge, place your hands on the back of a bench with your hands shoulder-width apart and your arms straight. Lean forward with your feet about three to four feet from the bench. Make a straight line with your body and squeeze your abs to support your posture. Then, do a push-up by first bending your elbows to bring your body toward the bench. Next, straighten your arms to lift your body again and touch your right shoulder with your left hand at the top of the push-up. Repeat the push-up and then lift your right hand.
Back Extension Rear Leg Raise
The back extension rear leg exercise is performed on a stability ball. The abs work to stabilize your body on the ball. Your glutes, lower back and legs are also utilized to perform this exercise. To perform a back extension rear leg raise, lie face down on a stability ball with your legs straight and your toes touching the floor. Roll the ball under your stomach and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor. Reach your arms forward with your palms facing each other and look forward. Then, lift your left leg straight toward the ceiling. Keep your body still. Lower your left leg and lift your right. Alternate leg lifts for the desired number of reps.