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5 Abs Exercises for Women

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 January 5, 2021

            15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

            15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

            Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

            The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

            Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

            Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

            1. Drink More Water

            W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

            “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

            With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

            Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

            2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

            It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

            The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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            3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

            Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

            Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

            4. Start Stretching More Often

            The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

            Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

            Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

            5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

            You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

            The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

            HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

            Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

            6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

            For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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            It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

            7. Build More Lean Muscle

            We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

            • Improved posture
            • Reduced body fat
            • Improved metabolism
            • Strong bones
            • Protects and improves joint health
            • Improved stamina

            You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

            8. Decrease Body Fat

            This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

            • Improved joints and tendons
            • Lowered risk of diabetes
            • Reduced risk of heart disease
            • Reduced inflammation
            • Better performance and endurance
            • Improved appearance and confidence
            • Better hormonal profiles in your body

            Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

            Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

            Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

            9. Eat More Greens

            What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

            Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

            Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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            10. Start Eliminating Sugar

            Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

            There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

            Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

            Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

              11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

              The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

              If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

              12. Get More Sleep

              When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

              Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

              13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

              It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

              Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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              Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

              14. Take Your Fitness Outside

              This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

              Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

              Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

              15. Do at Least One Pull Up

              This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

              If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

              The Bottom Line

              These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

              More on Setting Fitness Goals

              Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

              Reference

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