This is the first article in our new series on specific exercises, kicking off with abdominal hedge trimmers. Besides having a really brilliant name, this move is fun, effective, and will give you abs as tough as steel.
WHAT ARE ABDOMINAL HEDGE TRIMMERS?
Some of the most effective exercises are when two exercises are combined. Abdominal hedge trimmers bring together the subtle world of Pilates with the dynamic movements of fitness to create a highly effective muscle-endurance exercise for the abs. It also works the hip flexors, hip adductors and abductors.
HOW TO PERFORM THEM
- Begin lying face upwards, your spine relaxed and resting on the mat.
- Supporting your head with your hands, extend your legs towards the ceiling, keeping your hips at around 90 degrees.
Perform Legs Down:
- Hold your torso steady, then open and close your legs.
- Lower your legs a few inches and open and close them again.
- Repeat this lowering, opening and closing again, for 5 times. The last rep should still allow your spine and pelvis to be in a neutral position.
Perform Legs Up:
- Continue the open and close pattern for 5 more times, raising your legs slightly higher each time.
- Try to avoid holding your breath throughout the exercise. Inhale as you open, exhale as you close, or whatever breathing pattern helps you to maintain steadiness.
- Continue for 4 sets of legs lowering and lifting, resting for 30-60 seconds between each set.
- Keep legs straight up whilst opening and closing. This will work the hip adductors more than the abs and hip flexors.
- Keep the legs lowering and lifting, but keep your head and shoulders on the mat, arms on the floor. This may help those with weaker necks or with limited movement in their upper and middle backs.
HOW TO PROGRESS
You can add more reps as your strength increases. Two sets of between 10 and 40 reps is good at first. Alternatively, shorten the recovery time, or do both if you’re feeling strong.
Adding ankle weights will give you extra challenge. This shifts the work to the hip abductors.
Using an exercise band will also increase resistance and add interest.
Remember, a strong core is the foundation of all fitness. Mounting research shows that carrying extra weight around your stomach is dangerous to your health. Variety is the key to strong abs, so alongside the abdominal hedge trimmers, add in some of these best ever ab exercises to your workout.