We all want a toned, flat stomach.
No surprise there. But since many women are still relying on crunches to get it, we want to make one thing clear: Crunching is not the most effective abs workout.
“Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it’s important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs,” says Lou Schuler, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs.
Here are 4 moves, from simple to killer, that will keep your daily core workouts interesting!
Don’t be fooled by this seemingly simple pose. The static contraction means your core never gets a break!
Sit with your legs crossed (or in full lotus if you can), palms pressed into the floor outside your hips, fingertips facing forward. Brace your abs in and press down with your arms and shoulders, lifting your hips a few inches off the floor. Hold for 3 counts and then lower.
If you can’t lift your hips off the floor at first, simply press down with your arms and shoulders and lift as high as you can until you’re stronger.
From a seated position, lean back gently to balance between the seat bones and the tailbone. Keep the upper body tall and strong (it helps to visualize the torso as lengthening with every breath). Exhale and slowly raise the legs so that they’re at a 45-degree angle with the ground. Legs should be zipped together and straight, although bending the knees makes this pose easier for beginners. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then rest and repeat.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your legs together. Hold a kettlebell in front of you by the horns with your elbows bent. Lift your feet off the floor and find your balance on your tailbone. Twist to the right and touch the kettlebell to the floor, then immediately twist to the left and repeat. Continue by alternating sides.
Tip: Make sure your abs, not your arms, are twisting your torso and the kettlebell side to side.
The Swan Dive
Lie on your stomach, stretch your arms overhead, point your toes, and lift your arms and legs about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 1 count, imagining your legs being pulled out and back, away from your hips.
Next, circle your arms out to the sides and behind you. Exhale and reach your arms toward your toes, palms facing in (shown). Hold for 1 count, then bring arms back to starting position and relax entire body to ground. Repeat 6–8 times.