Hoping to tone your abdominal muscles during lockdown? Then look no further. Jessica Ennis-Hill offers some expert insights on making it happen…
Is your lockdown challenge a set of cracking abs? Then the good news is that a washboard stomach isn’t a pipe dream and there’s no reason why you can’t have one. The bad news is that it takes some serious hard work to get there, but we can help.
Jessica Ennis-Hill has created a brand-new 30-day ab challenge in her Jennis home workout app which includes HIIT circuits, rep challenges, 5-minute body blasts and ultra ab sessions, and she’s mapped out exactly what you need to do every single day to make it easy to follow. There’s also tons of variety, so you won’t get bored.
Here, she shares the principles behind the new plan and some top tips for focusing your ab work…
1. It’s not just about crunches
“Getting great abs isn’t just about banging out loads of crunches and doing as many as you can every day,” explains Jessica Ennis-Hill. “It’s about having variety in your training, making sure you’re testing your body in different ways and moving it in different directions.
“The key is to exercise your whole body rather than concentrating on one body part, so it’s about working your legs, working your upper body, doing lots of rotational elements and making sure you’re conditioning yourself in a really full way. By doing that, you’ll definitely develop your abs. That’s why I feature so much variety in my ab challenge.”
2. Don’t skip the cardio
“To really create stomach definition you need to add cardio to the mix, which is why simply doing sit-ups isn’t going to cut it,” says Jess. “The key is in getting your heart rate up, so running, cycling or Jennis home HIIT sessions all help – but some cardio workouts are more effective than others.
“According to a recent study, the hands-down winner when it comes to torching fat is high-intensity (HIIT) exercise workouts, like the circuits featured in my 30-day ab challenge, which provide more calorie burn per minute than steady sessions like running or cycling.” You can read about how many calories you can burn doing a Jennis Fitness HIIT circuit.
3. Embrace burpees. Honestly
“Everyone hates burpees (me included) but they’re probably the very best bodyweight exercise that exists, working loads of muscles and really revving up that metabolism” explains Jess. “I’ve said it already but I really mean it. To get great abs it’s about a variety of exercises and burpees do it all – working your core, burning fat, building muscle and revving your metabolism, while also strengthening arms, back, chest, legs and glutes.”
4. Go old-school with bicycle crunches
“Okay, so while I said that you shouldn’t focus on crunches, there is one crunch-style move worth including in your exercise routine. According to this study, bicycle crunches apparently offer the most effective ab workout there is, targeting your lower stomach and obliques.”
5. Focus on your whole core
“Rather than thinking abs-only, choose moves that will give your ‘whole’ core a workout – so that means not just your abs, but your back and pelvis, too,” says Jess.
“A strong core is really important for your overall body health as it protects the spine, improves your posture, reduces risk of injury, and decreases risk of lower back pain. And, in the long-term, that’s good news for your abs.
“Some of my favourite core moves include single leg sprints, squat thrusts, plank, side plank, side plank opener and burpees.”
Reminder: your core isn't just your six-pack muscles. It's actually layers of deep muscles that help support your pelvis, spine, back, hips and stomach.
6. Shake up your diet
Finally, there’s a saying that great abs are made in the kitchen, which basically means that exercise alone won’t give you amazing abs. With this in mind, try and eat a healthy, balanced diet – otherwise you could sabotage all your good work. Focus on fresh vegetables, fruit, lean meats, fish, pulses and wholegrains, and try to cut down on refined sugars.
Find out more about the NEW Jennis 30-day ab challenge
Find out more about Jessica Ennis-Hill’s Jennis Fitness app here