Exercising your abdominal muscles of your stomach doesn't have to be extreme. There are gentle ways to work your abs that isolate and strengthen your ab muscles without strain. Most beginner exercises are done lying on the floor, where your neck and/or lower back is supported, but some simple balance exercises done standing also work your abs in a gentle fashion.
Supine Hollowing With Leg Lift
The supine hollowing with leg lift is a two-part exercise for your abs and pelvic floor muscles. These important core muscles keep your lower back and pelvis stable during this exercise. To do the supine hollowing exercise, lie face up on the floor. Bring your feet about a foot from your buttocks on the floor with your knees bent. Position your arms at your sides and in line with your shoulders with the backs of your hands on the floor. Initiate hollowing of your stomach by pulling in your abs as if to bring your navel to your spine, but do not move your hips. Also, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if trying to stop the flow of urine. Then, lift one foot six inches from the floor. Repeat with the other foot while still maintaining pelvic stabilization.
The glute bridge is a beginner's exercise for your abs, glutes and hips. Your neck is supported on the floor the entire time so you cannot strain it. The range-of-motion is minimal; as long as you do not over-arch your lower back, there is no danger of hurting your back either. To perform this exercise, lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart on the ground. Extend your arms at 45 degree angles from your body and rotate your palms up. Then, raise your hips toward the ceiling until your knees make 90 degree angles. Think of pressing from your heels and using your glute muscles to lift your body. Maintain tight abs throughout the exercise.
Single-Leg Balance Reach
The single-leg balance/reach exercise works your abs as well as your adductors and glutes. The adductors are your inner thigh muscles. The single-leg balance reach also improves your balance as you get used to standing on one leg and moving your leg slowly in all directions. To begin, stand up tall on your right leg. Bend your right knee slightly. Hold your left foot an inch from the floor next to your right and place your hands on your hips. First, move your left foot straight forward as if skimming the floor. Second, bring the left foot back to center and then move it to your left while still keeping the foot hovering an inch from the floor. Bring it back to center. Finally, extend your leg straight behind you. Repeat on the other side.
- American Council on Exercise: Supine Hollowing With Lower Extremity Movements
- American Council on Exercise: Glute Bridge
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training: Course Manual; Michael Clark, Scott Lucett and Rodney Corn