My all time favorite exercise for the abs is Tabletop. Tabletop is a Pilates exercise, but there are many different variations. I find that the traditional Tabletop exercise is great for all fitness levels. It allows you to focus on your breath and strengthening the core without straining your neck, or putting the tension into the jaw.
- Lay on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Feel your spine imprint into the ground/mat. Keep your spine imprinted on the mat as you slowly extend your knees out over your hips. Your shins should be parallel to the floor, so that your knees are at a 90 degree angle.
- Typically this exercise should be done in a neutral pelvis/neutral spine position. Your back ribs stay pressed down into the mat, but you will have a small low back arch. (Just like you would have when you are standing). This little arch should just be enough of an arch to fit a grape.
- If you have mastered level 1 and 2 then try extending your knees past your hips. You will notice that once your legs go out too far you might want to overly arch your back and relax your abs...DON'T do this. Your knees should only extend out as far as you can can maintain your neutral position for 15 deep breaths, which will be about a minute.
* Remember that with every deep breath you must pull your abs in on the exhale. Think of counting to 5 slowly as you inhale and to 5 slowly as you exhale...belly button to spine. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling out of the mouth.
Add this exercise into your fitness routine and you will see amazing results. I would try to do 3 sets - 3 times per week.