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Abdominal strengthening exercises: Level 1

This video has been developed by the women’s and men’s health physiotherapy team at Oxford  University Hospitals, please follow the exercises in this video as guided by your physiotherapist.  Our contact details are provided at the end of the video should you have any questions regarding  these exercises. This video includes a series of exercises designed to strengthen the deep  abdominal muscles, but firstly we’re going to recap how we can effectively contract the deep  abdominal muscles. Your starting position will be determined by the exercise that you’re about to  perform, it may involve you being on your back, on your side, or resting on your hands and knees. For  the purpose of this recap Natalie is going to stay on her back, additionally you may wish to place a  towel underneath your head if you’re lying on your back or lying on your side.

Now we’re going to  have a look at engaging those deep tummy muscles which sit just below the belly button, we’re going  to take a breath in through the nose and on the breath out we’re going to draw those tummy muscles  down towards the spine, I’m going to hold that contraction.

Throughout all of our exercises  you may wish to practice this a few times before moving on to the exercises in this video,  whichever exercise you’re performing it is really important to continue breathing throughout.  All exercises should be completed within comfort so please stop if you encounter any discomfort.  Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you on an appropriate number of repetitions  and sets to complete which suits your ability. Our first exercise is called the hip twist  starting on your back with your knees bent and nice and relaxed through the shoulders,  ribs and through your pelvis we’re going to slowly engage through those deep tummy  muscles then when you’re ready you’re going to take one leg, I’m going to drop  it slowly out towards the floor as far as you can without the opposite hip lifting,  keeping tummy engaged.

We’re then going to bring the knee back in towards the starting position  and at this point you may wish to actually relax those tummy muscles before re-engaging  and transferring over onto the other side, so again the other leg comes out and slowly back in,  with the option of relaxing those tummy muscles again, changing over slowly drawing back up,  relaxing the tummy muscles if you want to, re-engaging and then transferring  over onto the other side.

We’re now going to try an exercise called one leg stretch,  again starting on your back with knees bent nice and soft through the shoulders, ribs and pelvis,  okay engage those deep tummy muscles drawing down towards the spine and then we’re slowly going to  extend one leg, sliding the heel out along the floor as far as we can without any movement  through the pelvis, keeping tummy muscles engaged, we’re then going to draw the leg back up towards  the starting position. As before you may wish to relax the tummy muscles then draw them back  into contraction before transferring over to the other side, extending that leg all the way out,  sliding it back up, keeping engaged through the tummy and relax do it once more on each side  stretching all the way out and slowly back up again good, and then transferring over  and back up once more. This next exercise is the shoulder bridge, it’s a lovely exercise for core and glute strength and  spinal mobility.

Starting on your back with knees bent we’re actually going to start by  engaging those deep tummy muscles and then tilting the pelvis forwards so that we can slowly curl our  way up off the floor, so pushing through our heels to lift the hips up into the air we’re  trying to find a nice long line from our knees all the way down to our shoulders and then on  the return back down.

Abdominal strengthening exercises: Level 1

We’re going to drop through the ribs first then bit by bit through the spine,  roll ourselves down towards the floor once we reach the floor we relax those tummy muscles  and then when you’re ready again we engage through the tummy and it can tilt the pelvis, rolling our  way back up into the air trying to keep as I said a nice long line from the knees to the shoulders  and each hip at the same height on both sides, dropping through the ribs and curling our way down  back to the floor.

Let’s now move on to the clam, this next exercise we’re actually going  to be on our side, so what you’re going to do is you’re going to bend your knees,  keeping your heels in line with your bottom and a nice straight position through your back.  Using your uppermost arm in front of you for a bit of support we’re actually going to engage  tummy muscles in this position too, so engage the tummy drawing those muscles back towards the spine  then holding that position as we float the top leg up into the air, we come as high as we can  without the pelvis rolling backwards and then we’re going to slowly close back down again,  good, relax the tummy muscles if you need to and then re-engage and we’re going to come back up  again, nice and slowly and back down, good.

Once more engage the tummy muscles back in if you’ve  relaxed, coming back up and slowly lowering down. Lastly let’s try arm lifts in four point kneeling,  we’re now going to come onto our hands and knees.

Resting in this lovely flat back position,  to find that position we’re going to think about arching the back all the way up to the ceiling  and slowly sinking ourselves down towards the floor and then finding a nice comfortable medium  position between those two extremes which should be this lovely flat back position.  I want to hold that throughout the exercise, next we’re going to think about drawing those  deep tummy muscles up towards the spine whilst keeping that lovely flat back.

From here we’re  going to float one arm up in front of us as far as comfortable, around shoulder height is the aim  and then slowly lowering that back, down you may wish to relax the tummy muscles in between,  then re-engage and we’re going to lift up the other side again, up in front nice and slowly,  relaxing the muscles in between then re-engaging, lovely and the few things to think about in this  position is making sure that flat back stays and we’re not twisting as we transfer our weight side  to side. We want to make sure those tummy muscles are engaged throughout the movement as well  and we keep our elbows lovely and soft, we don’t lock them out. If you encounter any issues or have  any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the department and ask to speak to your physio.


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