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
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.
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
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.
3. Seated Russian twist
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
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
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.
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