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5 Abs Exercises for Women

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5 Abs Exercises for Women

The summer swimsuit season is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start toning those abs. However, it’s hard to get motivated when the only ab exercises in your repertoire are the traditional crunches and planks you’ve been doing since middle school gym class.

Instead of resorting back to boring old ab exercises that never seem to get the job done, try these five ab exercises that will help tone your upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Even better, these simple ab exercises can be performed in the comfort of your home, with no costly gym memberships or time-consuming training sessions required.

1. Pilates 100s

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    Feel the burn in your upper abs with this basic pilates maneuver that promotes a deeper ab workout, so you’re not just working the top layer of your abdominal muscles.

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    Start by laying flat on your back, then lift your upper back off the floor until your shoulder blades are only touching the floor slightly. Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle and keep your arms at your sides about two inches off the floor. Inhale, and pump your arms up and down five times. Exhale, and pump another five times.

    2. Planking frog tucks

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      Take the boring plank you hate and make it more interesting with planking frog tucks, which use your body weight to work your core and abs without doing crunches.

      Start on the floor in a push-up position. Tighten your abs and bring your left foot forward so it sits beside your left hand. Straighten the leg back to the starting position, and bring your right foot forward, so it sits beside your right hand. That’s one repetition.

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      3. Seated Russian twist

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        The seated Russian twist is an abdominal exercise that engages the whole abdomen. You’ll feel the burn in all of your core muscles, including your internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominis, and even the lower back.

        Start on the ground with your knees bent and your heels on the ground. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight. Extend your arms in front of you and place one hand on top of the other. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and rotate to the left. Inhale as you come back to the center, then rotate to the right. This is one rep.

        4. Twisting side plank

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          It’s no secret that many women struggle with dreaded “love handles.” The twisting side plank not only works the abs and obliques (love handles), it also engages the shoulders, quads, and glutes for an all-around workout.

          Start in a side plank position. Put your weight on your right elbow and point your fingers away from your elbow. Place your left arm behind your head and inhale. Rotate the left side of your body toward the floor. Hold the position for one second, tightening your abdominal muscles, then return to the starting position. Perform the exercise on the opposite side.

          5. Scissor kicks

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            Scissor kicks are an abdominal exercise that can be altered to suit beginner or advanced exercise enthusiasts. The primary muscles worked are the transverse abdominis (your stomach’s deepest muscles) and the hip flexors, but you’ll feel the burn in your rectus abdominis, internal obliques and external obliques too. Simply put, be prepared for a sore core the day following your workout.

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            Start by lying flat on your back with your arms at your sides and palms down. Bring your legs up toward the ceiling while pressing your lower back into the floor. Pull your abs in and lower one leg toward the ground (stop a few inches above the floor), keeping the other straight up in the air. Alternate legs to complete one full rep.

            Featured photo credit: Jimi Lanham via c2.staticflickr.com

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            Last Updated on September 8, 2021

            10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

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            10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

            “You can have results or excuses. Not both.” – Anonymous

            Human beings tend to only ever do as much as they absolutely need to.

            Motivational speakers call this innate trait laziness, biologists call it efficiency. Either way, the fact remains: we are evolutionary wired to minimize time and energy wherever possible.

            And this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we weren’t wired this way, we probably wouldn’t have survived this long as a species.

            Back in our caveman days, before supermarkets, calories were worth their weight in gold. For cavemen, trying to actively burn off calories would have spelled certain death.

            In this light, our fitness excuses make total sense. Our reptilian brain comes up with believable sounding rationalizations to stop us from burning off our precious calories; to minimize time and energy.

            Unfortunately, due to our present access to highly calorific foods, the fitness excuses that once ensured our survival, now send us to an early grave.

            Below I’ve provided the 10 most common fitness excuses our reptilian minds trick us into believing and why, ultimately, they’re all nonsense.

            1. I don’t have enough time.

            This is probably the most common fitness excuse of them all.

            First off, when you say you don’t have enough time, what you’re really saying is “I don’t have enough time for that”. 

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            Do you really think that if you were to add up all the time you spend watching TV and surfing the web throughout the average week you couldn’t replace any of it with a workout?

            A 30 minute workout takes up 2% of your day.

            Don’t ask yourself how much time you’re going to waste by working out a few times a week. Ask yourself how much of your life you’re going to waste being unfit and overweight.

            2. I’m way too tired to workout.

            Your mind, when it comes to exercising, is like a spoiled child. If you give in to its demands without a fight, it will see weakness and prey on it often.

            If you miss one planned session, you’re much more likely to miss the next. The biggest journey always starts with one step and the biggest failings always start with one step backwards.

            You need to show your mind who’s boss. You won’t always have lots of energy when you go to the gym but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is showing up and giving it a shot.

            If you’re too tired to workout, change your sleeping habits, not your workout habits.

            3. But exercise is so boring!

            You don’t want to exercise because it’s boring?

            So you find brushing your teeth, taking showers, styling your hair and getting dressed highly entertaining? No. We do these things because we have to. We accept them as part of life.

            The people who never miss a workout are the ones who view it just like brushing their teeth. Complaining about it is just pointless. To be successful sometimes you’ve got to do things that aren’t as fun as watching your favorite TV show. That’s just life.

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            If don’t enjoy your workouts, you don’t stop working out, you just workout differently. Try crossfit, martial arts, hiking, body building, powerlifting, running, or swimming. Try music. Try anything, but keep showing up.

            4. I have no motivation to workout.

            If you think you need motivation to train you’re already half beat.

            What you really need is meta motivation: the motivation to train even when you’re not motivated. If you rely on your feelings to decide whether to workout or not, you never will. As you know, your feelings are designed to keep you caged up in your comfort pit.  Your feelings want you to be safe, not successful.

            That said, there is a trick you can use to get yourself motivated to workout, and it’s  backed up with research. It’s called ‘the few minutes’ principle.

            The basic idea is that procrastinators often put off doing certain things because the size of the task in front of them seems too overwhelming. By deciding to just go to the gym for a ‘few minutes’ you’ll often see the workout through to completion.

            Are you motivated enough to train for two minutes? That’s all you need.

            5. I have kids to look after.

            One day your kids might have someone to look after too: you.

            Don’t burden them with an ill parent when they have their own kids to look after. And don’t be the kind of parent who tells their kids exercise is good for them but doesn’t follow their own advice. Kids are smarter than that.

            If you’re really struggling with managing your fitness and your kids, combine the two. Find a field and play frisbee for a few hours, go swimming, take a walk around the lake and feed some ducks. There are so many fun and cheap ways to exercise with your kids, the only limits are your imagination.

            You kids should be your biggest reason to exercise, not your biggest excuse.

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            6. I don’t have anyone to train with.

            What you’re really saying with this fitness excuse is that you don’t have anyone to talk with while you train. If you’re training properly, you won’t need to talk.

            Don’t get me wrong, having a training partner is great but here’s what you’ve got to understand: most people first meet their training partners at the gym. The reason you probably don’t have anyone to train with is because you don’t have many friends who train. Like attracts like.

            By becoming someone who regularly trains, you’ll start attracting people into your life who also value health and fitness. You have to earn your training partners, they don’t come free.

            7. I don’t feel very well.

            After you get into the habit of overriding your fitness excuses and working out regularly, the thought of missing a workout starts to drive you insane. When I broke my jaw in two places the doctors told me I couldn’t lift heavy weights for three months. What did I do? I lifted light weights instead. Train smart, not hard.

            At some point in our lives we’ve all pretended to be ill so we could skip a day of school. Some of the better actors among us probably blurred the lines in their mind between real symptoms and those imagined. It’s easy to exaggerate things when it fits our agenda.

            If you’re really sick, I don’t recommend you train. But feeling a bit tired or achy – that’s no reason to skip a workout.

            8. The gym is too expensive or far.

            If you think you need a gym to achieve your fitness goals, you’ve been seriously misled.

            The world is your fitness playground. Ever watched a training scene from a Rocky movie? He chases chickens, runs up steps, punches meat, and chops wood. Many people cite these scenes as their favorite.  Something about training dirty and raw resonates deep within us.

            There are whole fitness subcultures dedicated to working out outdoors, and without formal equipment. Ever heard of Calisthenics, Tai Chi, Yoga or Parkour? Look them up.

            If you want to put on muscle, try some typical strongman training like chopping wood, flipping tires, lifting barrels. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his own gym equipment out of chairs and sticks for the first year he trained. He claims he gained 25 pounds of muscle from doing this.

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            9. I don’t know how to train properly.

            If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously more than capable of figuring this out. The internet is brimming with routines and training tips. This site alone will give you more than you need. Read these 10 tips for better workouts, perfect for beginners.

            However, it’s important that you don’t get too engulfed in the theory of ‘training properly’. Like most things in life, you learn best on the job. Ask people in the gym to show you how to use proper technique, then practice through action.

            People love giving out tips. You might even get a training partner out of it.

            10. I feel intimidated by the fit people there.

            This is normal and everyone has this when they first start out. The environment is new, everyone there looks like they know what they’re doing. You feel like you’re in someone else’s home.

            The number one reason you feel intimidated when you go to the gym is because you don’t go enough! If you started going regularly you’d get used to the place, the people and your fitness would improve. Everyone knows training improves your confidence. Just stick with it. It’s something you’ll laugh at a few months down the line.

            Anyone can get in great shape. Anyone can become fit. But very few people ever do because they give in to their natural inclination to minimize time and effort.

            Stop making excuses and just stick with it for two months. After that you’ll be finding excuses to workout even when you do have important stuff to get on with.

            Featured photo credit: United Artists, Chartoff-Winkler Productions via Rocky (1976)

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