woman on yoga mat doing breathing exercises

Wouldn’t it be spectacular if there was an easy exercise that actually produced results?

There actually is! In this article I’ll present not one, not two, but three super simple exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere, and they’ll actually strengthen your abs!

No, they won’t give you a ripped six pack tomorrow, but they’ll improve your core strength and help you breathe easier when training and racing, so you’ll see results where it counts!

The Benefits For You

There are three big benefits you’ll get if you perform these exercises regularly:

1. Improved Core Strength and Stability

These moves will strengthen your core and tighten your abs. Not only does this lead to better form on the bike and more stamina in the run, it also means your six pack abs should look nicer! Basically, this type of exercise helps your abs stay tight all the time, giving you a flatter stomach and better physique.

2. You’ll Learn To Exhale Faster and More Forcefully

These exercises train you to exhale faster and with more force (think of them like resistance training for your lungs), and I find that a better exhalation is the best way to inhale faster. This means you’ll fill your lungs with more oxygen with less effort!

3. You’ll Take Deeper Breaths Without Trying

Similarly, you’ll also train yourself to take deeper breaths. So, you’ll inhale more oxygen, more often, and deliver that oxygen to your working muscles when it really counts.

When you’d normally be gasping for air, you’ll now be at the front of the pack!

How To Do The Exercises

Here are the how-to instructions for each exercise:

Beginner: Ab Vacuum

Exhale all the air in your lungs while sucking in your stomach. It should take about 3-5 seconds to exhale it all usually. Contract your abs tight the whole time. After exhaling, hold tight for 5 seconds before breathing again.

Intermediate: Breath of Dragon

First, breathe in real deep and hold that breath for a couple seconds. Then, contract your abs forcefully while exhaling through a partially-closed mouth (so it’s like your lips are providing resistance).

It’s similar to the ab vacuum, but with the added resistance from your lips, you work longer. It should take you about 10-20 seconds to force all of the air out. Your abs will flex harder and harder as the air is exhaled.

*I did this exercise for years without a name. But Rusty Moore at www.FitnessBlackBook.com decided to call it Breath of Dragon so that’s cool with me!

Advanced: Breath of Grizzly Bear

Start by breathing in deep, as usual. Then pause, and take another breath. Keep doing that until you can’t fit in any more air. (I do 2-4 inhalations.)

At the same time, keep your abs pulled in tight! You’re trying to suck in a lot of air without expanding your abs. It’s like a tug of war with yourself. That’s why it takes me about four “reps” to get the same amount of air in as I’d get with one “rep” of Breath of Dragon.

*I chose this name because it’s like your abs are giving you a giant bear hug while you try in inhale.

When To Do These Exercises

This is the best part – you can do these exercises all the time! Mornings and evenings. Before rides. After rides. During recovery rides. While sitting at your desk. While standing in line.

I wouldn’t do them immediately after a large meal (for obvious reasons), but they’re not going to tear down your muscles, so no worries about recovery in between workouts.

Practice makes perfect, so get in the habit of doing these every day.

This article was originally published on March 20, 2013. It was updated and republished on July 19, 2018.

You may also like

Leave a Reply