Georgia Ellenwood, the 2018 NCAA and Canadian heptathlon champion, has had a strange year. Like all athletes around the world, her 2020 season was put on hold early due to COVID-19, and there were few (if any) opportunities to compete in combined events once lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions began to lighten in the summer. Because of this, she hasn’t competed since February, but her training hasn’t slowed in that time as she looks ahead to 2021 and hopefully qualifying for her first Olympics. A key training session for Ellenwood is core, and she has a quick (but challenging) routine that she runs through multiple times each week. If you have two minutes free (and let’s be honest, who can’t spare a couple of minutes?), test this session out for yourself.
“This is a two-minute ab exercise,” Ellenwood says, “but it burns. I think people think they need to do 10 or 20 minutes of abs to really get it, but if you do this two-minute workout three times a week, you’ll definitely get stronger.” The routine features four exercises, and Ellenwood says to perform them each for 30 seconds, moving from one to the next with no rest. “You don’t put your feet down the entire time,” she says.
Start with the hollow hold. Lie on your back with your arms stretched out overhead, also resting on the floor. Making sure to always keep your lower back pressed firmly to the ground, lift your legs and arms off the floor. Ideally, you want your legs two to three inches off the ground, but you can hold them as high as you need to be able to keep your lower back flat to the floor. As you improve at this exercise, you’ll be able to hold them lower and lower. Hold for 30 seconds before moving onto flutters.
“Your range of motion should be quite minimal with flutters,” Ellenwood says. “Stay in hollow hold and don’t let your legs drop.” Once again focusing on keeping the small of your back flat, slowly flutter your legs, mimicking the kick you would perform while swimming. After the 30 seconds are up, return to the hollow hold for the penultimate exercise of your two-minute session.
“Arm raises are next,” Ellenwood says. “Your legs are still and your arms are being raised one after another in the hollow hold position.” Bring your arms down to your side and then raise them back above your head, making sure not to rush this movement and to keep your core engaged throughout.
Finally, you close the workout with 30 seconds of suitcase crunches. Starting in the hollow hold, crunch upward, bringing your knees to your chest and wrapping your arms around your legs so you “come into a cannonball position,” Ellenwood says, again making sure not to let your feet touch the floor.
Ellenwood says she knows this is a tough workout, especially as you try to keep your legs raised the whole time, but she points out that it’s really not that long. “People can do something like this for two minutes, no matter how hard it is,” she says. If you want a visual for any of these exercises, check out Ellenwood’s Instagram page, where she has a series of stories titled “Fitness 4 You.” This particular session can be found about halfway through the Fitness 4 You lineup.