Ab routines often rely on mainstays like crunches and planks to help you feel the burn. And for good reason: When done properly, crunches work multiple ab and back muscles, and planks are a whole dang full body workout.
But the moves can also be tiresome. Which is what makes this crunch- and plank-free routine from Bridget O’Carroll, founder of the first Native-owned digital fitness studio, Studio Qila, refreshingly surprising. Don't think that means you're off the hook, though: These 11 minutes of bodyweight exercises are super duper hard.
Commenters on the video call it the "longest & intense" 11-minute core workout, and say their "abs are burning up." One writes, "I needed a quick 'pick me up' for an energy boost and thought 10 mins would be easy. I was wrong!"
O’Carroll, who is one of Well+Good's 2022 Changemakers, first focuses on multiple variations of a move that is similar to boat pose in yoga, and then goes into another series of exercises around a base resembling tabletop knees in Pilates. She makes the moves her own by offering several modifications and progressions, and by keeping the tempo at a slow—read: challenging—pace.
“This is all about slow and controlled movement,” O’Carroll says.
She explains that the moves are working slow-twitch muscle fibers. This is the part of the muscle responsible for building your body’s endurance and stability. And because we might be more used to moves like crunches or bicycles that go at a faster tempo or use momentum, these slow-twitch exercises end up being very tiring.
“It’s not about getting reps in, it’s about maintaining endurance, maintaining muscle tension over time, until you get to the point where that muscle… starts shaking,” she says.
That doesn't mean you can give up on good form. Throughout the video, O’Carroll emphasizes that you should always come back to the first version of the move if you find yourself slipping out of the posture while your muscles quake.
“It is form over ego at Studio Qila,” O’Carroll says. “It is all about listening to your body, finding the challenge, but allowing yourself to take that modification when your body needs it.”
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