I’m back!! And so ready to bring you 6 more of my favourite moves to get you in shape and feeling fabulous over Christmas time! Last time we went through my favourite legs/bums and upper body moves and this time we’re talking about abs and cardio. Cardio has got a pretty bad rep lately in my opinion, where we’ve realised that weight training can be really beneficial I feel like cardio has completely dropped off the radar but it still has it’s uses and I think we should be keeping it in our gym plans. I intend to show you how to make it that little more fun and interesting, and how to create a simple but effective workout from the moves i’m going to show you.
Now we’ve all heard the old saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ – which is very true to an extent but I would argue you still need to be working them to build a strong core and create definition in your muscles. So here are my 3 favourite moves:
X’s and O’s
Start lying on your back with your legs and arms wide in an ‘X’ shape, then to prepare for the move, lift your legs, arms and shoulders off the ground by about 6 inches. You should start to feel some contraction in your abs at this point. To create the O shape, lift up to a seated position and hug your legs into your chest, keeping your feet off the floor so that you balance on your sit bones then return to the X position, keeping arms and legs slightly raised. To make this harder, when you raise up, don’t touch your knees with your arms, simply use your abs to lift your body into a tight V sit position and hold it at the top of the move. This move is great to perform slowly to really feel the burn and i’d recommend 3 sets of about 8-10 then more as you get more advanced!
Bent leg jackknife
For this you’ll want some kind of dumbbell or kettlebell, i’d say s0mewhere between 5 and 10kg. This adds some great resistance and is easily one of my favourites as you can really feel it working! Lie on your back with arms and legs out stretched, legs and arms a foot off the floor, holding the weight in your hands. Bring your knees in towards your chest whilst also bringing your hands to meet your knees (which should mean your top half lifts off the floor slightly). Hold for a second then return to the outstretched position, without returning your hands or feet to the floor. Perform 10 repetitions for 3 sets and add more repetitions or weight as you gain strength.
This is a really simple idea but I honestly think its one of the most effective! You can just do a standard forearm planking making sure your bum is in line with the rest of your body and keeping your neck straight, or you can mix it up with leg lifts, arm reaches, twisting your hips from side to side, coming up to standing plank then back down again. So many different ways to advance the move and it really hits your entire core! It’s also a great exercise to track progression so you can start at a minute and see how long you can hold it for!
As I said before, cardio has got a bad rep but it is great for fitness levels, metabolism and also has a whole host of added non physical benefits as I definitely find it is a stress reliever! So my favourite moves are:
Tuck jump burpees
The ultimate for getting that heart rate super high! These are also great for HIIT training which I’m sure you’ll have heard me raving about lots, the key thing is protecting your knees when you come down from the jump so make sure you land softly with a bent knee. To burpee, bend over and place your hands on the floor just in front of you, then jump your feet back into push up position, jump back and stand up straight into a jump bringing your knees up towards your chest. This is brutal and best done in a HIIT format of 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off (or another split depending on fitness levels) as part of a circuit.
High knee jugglers
This one is a little challenging for the co-ordination at first but once you get into the swing of it you’ll be fine. Think of the move as being split into four:
- High knee with your right leg, tap your thigh with your left hand
- High knee with your left leg, tap your thigh with your right hand
- High knee with your right leg and tap the inside of your ankle with your left hand
- High knee with your left leg and tap the inside your ankle with your right hand
Once sped up, this is just like standard high knees with a little extra twist to help work your abs. If you struggle with the added complication then just do high knees, making sure you keep your back straight and lift your knees in line with your hips! Add this into your circuit with the burpees above.
Explosive star jumps
These are so intense but so good for getting the heart rate up! Start touching your knees with knees slightly bent then jump up, arms and legs out into a star shape and land back in your starting position. If you find it too challenging then you can go to standard jumping jacks but the explosive version is a great cardio exercise where you’ll get maximum benefit in very little time!