We’ve all been through the dreaded exercise slump. You feel like you’re doing everything right at the gym, but you’re not feeling or seeing the benefits from all the hard work you’ve been doing. There are a number of issues (alignment, strength, form, etc.) that could be hindering your workout. When it comes to your abdominals, it’s an even bigger struggle. The core is so tough to build, yet it’s the center of any workout, keeping you strong and mighty for every other body part you want to target.
If you feel like your crunches at the gym probably working, then you should speak to MNTSTUDIO Founder + CEO Elaine Hayes (which is exactly what we did). She is a fitness expert specializing in Pilates, barre, and low impact strength training and toning. MNT stands for Move. Nourish. Transform. Its SoMa studio in San Francisco regularly is voted “Best of the Bay.” Elaine created The MNT Method in 2010 as a sweaty evolution of classical techniques. Relying on the central tenets of alignment, strength and functional movement existing in Pilates, and barre, Elaine replaced extraneous movements with thoughtful opportunities for modification and advancement.
Keep reading below for Elaine’s top moves to get your crunches into tip-top form!
C-Curve Roll Downs (Center)
- Begin seated with legs together, knees bent, and arms reaching forward at shoulder height. Rollback about halfway, until you feel your abs engage. This will be your starting position.
- Inhale to roll back until your shoulder blades touch down on the mat. Exhale to roll up to your starting position. Repeat 10 times.
C-Curve Roll Downs (Diagonal)
- Begin seated with legs together, knees bent, and palms pressed together and reaching over to your left side. Rollback about halfway, until you feel your abs engage. This will be your starting position.
- Inhale to roll back until your shoulder blades touch down on the mat. Exhale to roll up to your starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
- Lie on your back with your head, neck, and shoulders curled up, arms hovering by your sides, legs together and turned out and at a diagonal. Only reach legs as low as you can keep your lower back glued to the mat.
- Begin pumping arms up and down (keeping elbows straight), as you inhale for five counts, and exhale for five counts. Repeat 10 times.
Toe Dips (Center)
- Begin lying on your back with your hands interlaced behind your head and legs lifted in a diamond shape
- Keeping the shape of the leg constant throughout, inhale to dip the left leg down, exhale to lift the leg up to the starting position. Alternate sides and repeat 10 times on each side.
Toe Dips (With Rotation)
- Now, continue with the tow dips, but add a rotation toward the lifted leg as the opposite leg lowers. Alternate sides and repeat 10 times on each side.
- Begin in a plank position with shoulders over wrists and feet together.
- Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you twist to your right, pointing knees towards the top right corner of your mat as you push back and angle your hips towards the back left corner of your mat.
- Inhale to slowly return to your starting position. Alternate sides and repeat 10 times on each side.
While you’re here, check out the eight yoga poses you should be doing pre and post-travel.