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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

The ABsolute best abdominal exercise for women over 50

Oct 31, 2022 01:38PM ● By Alicia Jones

What’s the number one area of the body that women are most concerned about improving? The tummy!

Whether it’s to look like a million bucks wearing sleek outfits or reducing back pain and relieving “leaky bladder” syndrome, having strong abdominal muscles is the key to feeling great from the inside out. 

The only problem is that many ab exercises do the exact opposite of what they are expected to do. Instead of flattening the stomach, they work the outer layer of the abdominal wall, causing it to stick out like a little pouch and create back injury. 

study done by the American Council on Exercise found that crunches are the least effective of all abdominal exercises. Additionally, they can also damage the pelvic floor. And let’s not talk about the damage those painful leg raises wreak!

Building a strong core is essential to having a healthy body. The good news is, there are safe, effective and easy exercises that don’t take much time and don’t need any equipment. 

My favorite is a modified plank crunch, which pulls in the waistline like a corset and strengthens the back and pelvic floor. It gives the strength-building benefit of a plank without the pressure on the shoulders, wrists and lower back. 

The modification focuses on the stomach so you feel the burn of the abdominal muscles working without the pressure a plank puts on other parts of the body. This is my ABsolute favorite abdominal exercise (see what I did there?).

All you need is a mat and a pillow to cushion your knees. I’ve broken it down into easy-to-follow steps so you can make this part of your regular workout routine:


 Start on your stomach with your elbows in a 90-degree angle, directly under your shoulders with the pillow under your knees. It may look like the classic plank position but I promise, this is not a plank exercise. Gently relax your back, letting it fall towards the floor. Notice what you’re feeling there. A little bit of tension is fine as long as there isn’t any pain. You’re allowing the spine to gently massage the discs into their natural alignment so just relax and let your body work its magic.


 Next, exhale and lift the stomach up towards the sky, straightening out the back so it looks like you’re in a plank position for a second, then relax and allow the stomach to come back down. When you straighten your back, there should be no pressure on the lower back. Be careful that you don’t go up too high and start to lift your bottom as that does nothing other than put pressure on the shoulders and defeats the entire point of the exercise.


 Now let’s add in breath work. As you lift your stomach upwards, exhale, then inhale as you relax back down to the ground. Exhaling helps contract the internal abdominal muscles and pull in the waistline. An added benefit of this exercise is that it also strengthens the pelvic floor, a common issue for women that causes incontinence. When you’re first starting out, aim for three sets of 15 repetitions and as you progress, challenge yourself with one to three sets for one minute each.


Relax and check in with your back. How is it feeling? Does it still have the same level of tension as when you started or has it eased up a bit now that you’ve gently allowed the discs to move into proper alignment?


To finish, push back into child’s pose, with your bottom resting on your heels, your body relaxed over your knees with your arms stretched out on the ground in front of you. Let go of all the tension in your body and feel your back relax.


Take a breath in as you gently roll up, feeling your vertebrae stack on top of each other one by one to bring your spine into an upright position.

And that’s it! This is one of the best abdominal exercises for women because it’s gentle, safe and works those deep internal muscles that will help you build a strong core while strengthening your pelvic floor.

For more exercises for women:

Need more of a visual?

Watch me do this exercise with perfect form in the video below.

Ab exercise for women over 50.