Absolutely Amazing Abs
We all want to look and feel great with strong abs all year long. I’ve selected a few of my favorite ab exercises for you to try and get results!
This is an excellent exercise that you’ll feel immediately and get nice results for your upper and lower ab region.
Preparation: Sit with feet slightly apart. Heels down, toes up. Lightly clasp hands. Lean back to where you can begin to feel your abs protruding without risking low back compensation. With good posture and shoulders back, focus on keeping your chest or sternum in a straight line. I recommend doing this in front of the mirror.
As you twist, keep head and chest pointed straight ahead. Attempt to touch the floor with your hands. Engage your abs, and really FEEL them as they assist you to bring back your hands mid line of your body and then to the other side.
The speed should be a fast to moderate tempo. I would try at least 3 sets of 25. Keep breathing fast, short breaths!
Progression: Try a medicine ball of 4-8 pounds or a dumbbell. Use the weight to get into a rhythm. Don’t let your arms take over.
AB CHEST LIFTS WITH EXTENDED LEG
Targets upper AND lower abs at the same time! This exercise has amazing results.
Preparation: Place hands behind head, DO NOT lock fingers. Gently support head in nape of neck with fingertips.
Extend either leg and lift slightly off floor. If any lower back discomfort, raise extended leg higher. Tilt your pelvis towards you to encourage a nice, low back pressed to the ground. Bend knee of opposite leg. Imagine a pulley on your chest lifting you to the ceiling. Make sure you are looking above your eyebrow to prevent elbows from falling forward.
Lift chest and shoulders off floor and force your abs to contract. As you lift, hold that contraction for a count of 2, breath out then come down slightly before lifting off the ground for your next rep. DO NOT allow your shoulders to come back to the floor, but keep the abs taught at all times. If you notice your elbows winging forward, look up and flatten them out, otherwise you’ll strain your neck and the exercise will have little effect.
Start with 3 sets of 25. Breathe out on the way up. Remember to build endurance and stick with it. You’ll soon notice that it will take you more reps to start feeling it. That’s a good thing!
BOSU AB CHALLENGE
The BOSU is a popular platform that adds new challenges and really can make your workout more fun and efficient. Here is a fun progression that demonstrates how to target your abs and obliques. This takes getting used to and if you’re just starting, you may quiver just a bit.
Preparation: Sit on top of the BOSU and scoot a little towards the floor, just below the center of the BOSU. Place your hands behind you to support your low back. As you begin to lean back you’ll notice your stomach protruding. This is a good indication that you are on target to begin.
Begin by contracting abs and pulling knees towards you, then fully extend your legs until they’re almost straight out in front of you.
Then to target the obliques, sit on your side with one hand in front of you and the other behind you for support, and do the same. You may need to find the sweet spot to get in this position. Be patient. Make sure your hip flexors or legs are taking the load, and really focus on the obliques.
ADVANCED AB EXERCISE: THE GIGANTE AB CHALLENGE
INDO Board introduced the Gigante Training Disc, which was actually designed for stand up paddling and surfing balance fun. But I have found many other things to do with it. (See my recent article for Athleta here »)
There are many progressions you can do to make your ab workout on the Gigante fun and extra challenging. This 24 inch disc inflates up to 12 inches tall. For our workout, I’ve inflated it to about 5 inches. It’s more stable this way.
Similar to the BOSU, sit on top of the Gigante and place your hands behind you. Bring your knees to your chest, then extend your legs away from you. You are guaranteed to shake, quiver and wiggle — this is the fun part! I try to get my center very calm and still, and get very focused.
And then try your obliques! Remember, this disc moves in four directions so controlling it with your abs is hard work. But I promise it will get easier!
Then we progress once more to a medicine ball of 4–8 pounds. I’m using an 8 pound medicine ball. A simple dumbbell will do too.
We took lots of photos to get this right and you can see I found this to be fun and challenging. This time I raised the 8 pound medicine ball above my head slightly to help me with balance! Try different angles with the medicine ball if you like. Positioning your outer thigh more on your hip is your starting point. This progression really requires quick reaction to the Gigante, then finding the sweet spot before you go into the extension.
As you can see there are many different ab exercises to choose from. The key is to mix it up and never allow your body to get used to one exercise. By selecting fun ab exercises you will be more likely to see results sooner because they won’t be such a dreaded part of your workout. I tell my clients they will never ever do a traditional sit up in my studio or on the beach. Why, when there are way more fun things we can do?
Also keep in mind one cannot spot-reduce a specific body part. Being fit and healthy is a total body effort. Including a smart cardio program, making better food choices, and eating smaller portions all contribute to weight loss and toning.
I tend to do abs last in my training routines because your abs support you and keep your body upright while you are working out.
Lastly, remember just when you start to get uncomfortable is when your body will change.
Be well and healthy!
Photos by Simone Reddingius. See more of her beautiful work & action photography on Flickr.com »