If you dream of sporting your bikini this summer and making a “whoa, mama” statement with your sculpted abs, then wake up! Your dream can be a reality. You have heard that abs are made in the kitchen and there is no denying that the food that you put into your body plays a huge role in banishing fat to allow those chiseled abs to play a front and center role on your torso, but strengthening those rectus abdominus muscles is critical in order to make that obscure dream of having a six-pack a reality. The real surprise may be that no traditional crunches or sit-ups are required!
Follow this sequence of moves at least 3-5 times a week, coupled with a clean diet, and you will be revealing your washboard waist in no time!
Most people underestimate the power of a pushup. The push up not only engages the upper body but is a stellar core strengthener as well. Adding the step adds an extra challenge and engages each side of muscles a bit more. Repeat until 10 pushups are performed on each side (20 total pushups).
- Step 1: Start in a push-up position with right hand on top of the step and your left hand on the floor. Make sure that your body is in a straight line from head to toe, abs engaged.
- Step 2: Perform a push‐up. As you push back up, transfer your left hand (the hand that was on the floor) to join your right hand on the step.
- Step 3: Place your right hand on the floor and keep left hand on step and perform a push‐up. As you push back up, transfer your right hand (the hand that was on the floor) to join your left hand on the step.
- Modification (Beginner): Perform crossover push ups on knees.
We said no traditional crunches would be required and we meant it! There is nothing ordinary about the muscles engaged in this super-sized core move. The engagement of a side plank coupled with a crunch performed by lifting the top leg towards your elbow allows for repeat flexion and extension of the rectus abdominus muscles while engaging all core muscles at the same time.
- Step 1: Get into forearm side crunch with your elbow directly underneath your shoulder. Rest your top hand behind your head with elbow pointing to ceiling.
- Step 2: Bring your top leg in with a bended knee pointing toward your top elbow. When bringing your knee in toward your elbow, keep your hips raised and your abs in tight. Return top leg to starting position and repeat.
- Modification (Beginner): If you are still working on perfecting a side plank, skip the crunch and simply hold up your side plank, aiming for 45 seconds. If you need to come down from plank, count to five, and come back up to finish out the 45 seconds.
Standing abdominal exercises are great ways to truly engage the muscles that help us with balance and posture and give us that sculpted six-pack. Adding resistance or weight to this Wood Chopper move is a true test to challenge those girdle muscles that hold our tummy tight. The key to this move is to avoid the urge to swing and instead focus on form and deliberate, controlled movements. Continue movement for 30 seconds on each side, repeating sequence on each side 2-3 times.
- Step 1: Hold a medicine ball (or dumbbell) in both hands. Squat and twist left to hold the medicine ball on the outside of your left leg.
- Step 2: Exhale, and lift the medicine ball diagonally across your body, ending twisted to the right with the dumbbell above your head. Pivot on your left foot as needed. Focus on the rotation initiating in your core. Control the weight back up to the starting position to complete one rep. Tip: Move with force but also control.
- Step 3: Bring the ball back to the starting point without bending the elbows. This means the weight stays an arm's-distance away from you at all times.
- Modification (Beginner): Start with no weight or light weight to perform this move focused on stability and form before adding weight.
Your abs are front and center in this contracting movement performed with gliders, but you get an added bonus of upper body conditioning with this two-for-one move. The key to successfully performing this move is making sure as you push the gliders back out as you return to perfect plank form before repeating the pike. Repeat this move for a period of specified time – aiming for one minute. Decrease or increase time based on level.
- Step 1: Begin in an all-fours position with your feet on top of the gliders. Lengthen your legs and stretch your heels behind you. Your hands should be under your shoulders. It is important to keep your ribcage knitted together and the abdominals strong in order to maintain a rigid torso. Keep your shoulder blades pulling away from your shoulders and toward your hips. Elbows must be straight and hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your legs active.
- Step 2: Exhale. Keeping your legs straight and strong, pull your feet toward your hands. The ball will roll forward as your hips pike upward toward the ceiling. Continue this movement until your hips are directly over your shoulders, if you can. Your legs, torso and arms should all be straight and strong. Keep your neck long; your head between your arms. Your can point your toes but always keep your toes connected to the top of the ball.
Tip: This brings your body into somewhat of a handstand position. Be aware of your shoulder strength and keep the elbows straight.
Get ready for a another double-duty move that engages the core muscles and serves as a oblique toner at the same time…oh, and a little arm strengthening sprinkled in too. Focus on slow, controlled movements when moving your knee in to opposite elbow and then extending out. Come down into perfect plank position before repeating. Repeat movement 10 times using right leg, and repeat 10 times using left leg. Repeat sequence 3-4 times.
- Step 1: Get into standard plank position, with your wrists directly below your shoulders. Keep your arms and back straight and your gaze at the floor in front of you.
- Step 2: Crunch your right knee to your left elbow. Squeezing your abdominal muscles. Switch sides. That is one rep.
You will feel that six-pack abs fire up with this movement as you focus on engaging the rectus abdominus in controlled movements as you reach for your toes. The key to performing this exercise is to zone in on using those abdominal muscles to pull yourself up rather than relying on your neck and back. Perform on each side for 60 seconds. Repeat 2-3.
- Step 1: Lie on your back, extending the arms over the shoulders and the legs over the hips. Flex the feet. Press your lower back into the floor.
- Step 2: Keeping your legs straight, lift your shoulders off the floor and reach for your toes. Make sure you’re using your core to lift your shoulder blades off the mat. If you feel the strain in your neck, you need to focus the movement in your core.
This move is another variation of the side plank that supersizes the core engagement by adding movement that further engages the core muscles to contract. The key factor in adding this movement to your side plank is to keep the hips square as you move your arm under your hip. You can perform this move with or without weight in hand, depending on level of intensity desired. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side.
- Step 1: Press up into a forearm side plank, with the right elbow below the right shoulder and feet stacked.
- Step 2: Raise hips off the floor so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Step 3: Slowly tuck your left arm under your body, while keeping the core engaged. Try to keep your hips in this same position.
- Step 4: Extend the right arm back up to the ceiling, keeping your core engaged and hips in the same position.
- Modification (Beginner): Bend your lower leg and place it on the ground like a kickstand.
Another plank variation to supersize your sculpting session, this plank that adds a hip rotation will challenge the core to work as you focus on controlled movement while keeping the back in straight alignment as you sway your way to six-pack abs. Repeat this movement for time. Aiming for one minute, reducing or increasing time based on level.
- Step 1: Begin in forearm plank position with shoulders directly over elbows. Your body should be in a straight, diagonal line from your head to your heels.
- Step 2: Keeping your abs in tight and your shoulders above your elbows, rotate your torso as you drop your left hip to the ground.
- Step 3: In a controlled motion, rotate your torso to the opposite side, dropping your right hip to the floor. That is one rep.
- Modification (Beginner): Perform this move on your knees.
This all-in-one plank variation will get your heart pumping so it’s a combination that blasts fat and sculpts core muscles. Speed will depend on performance level so focus on form first keeping those feet together as you jump side-to-side in order to keep core engaged. Hop across mat 20 times (10 on each side). Rest briefly and repeat 3-4 times.
- Step 1: Begin in your high plank. Set your hands underneath the shoulders and bring the feet together. Squeeze your inner thighs and brace the core. Round the shoulder blades out and push away from the ground, engaging the lats.
- Step 2: Keep the feet together as you jump them up and over to one side of your body. Try to get your knees on the outside of your elbow, tucked underneath the armpit. Get as close to this point as possible. Keep equal weight in both hands.
- Step 3: Jump back out to your plank. Don't rush this part. Get into a solid plank position with your legs straight and your hips in a straight line with the body. Then jump it over to the other side.
- Modification (Beginner): Remove the speed element and/or walk feet up to elbow one at a time.
This move can be deceptive as it looks like it may only engage your arms bit it is truly the core muscles doing the work. Grab a towel (or even a paper plate) and move to a surface that will allow the towels to slide and shift your way to a sculpted waist line.
- Step 1: Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat or floor with your elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and fingers facing forward. Place your hands on the discs. Engage your abdominal/core muscles. It should feel like you are tightening a corset around your ribs, waist and lower torso. Contract your thigh muscles to straighten your legs strongly and flex your ankles. Slowly lift your torso and thighs off the floor or mat. Keep your torso and legs rigid. Do not allow any sagging in your ribcage or low back. Avoid hiking your hips into the air or bending the knees.
- Step 2: Slowly slide your left arm out in front of you putting the majority of your weight on your right arm. Hold, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Exhale as you extend the arm outward and inhale as in returns.
- Modification (Beginner): Drop to your knees or use only one slider at a time.
Recruit a stability ball for this move. Repeat for time, aiming for one full minute.
- Step 1: Lie with stability ball resting under the mid/lower back and place hands behind head with feet firmly on the floor.
- Step 2: Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling your belly button to your spine. Keep the ball stable as you crunch up. That is one rep.
- Modification (Beginner): Remove the ball and crunch on the ground.