Since bathing suits have been out on the racks since February, it’s time to start whipping those abs into shape, don’t you think?
But — before I start sharing some awesome ab workouts — I have to back up a minute. One of the biggest workout myths (which is sometimes hard to convince people of because it really does seem pretty logical) is that you can target spots on your body where you want to burn fat during a workout. I wish a few (hundred) sets of crunches burned belly fat. But it doesn’t! You simply cannot target a part of your body where you want to burn fat… It doesn’t work like that. Now yes, people store fat in different areas of their bodies… And that place for you might be around your stomach. If that’s the case, then you may notice a flatter stomach after beginning your beach body workouts. But the truth of the matter is that you’re burning fat from all over your body — spot reduction training just doesn’t exist!
So what can you do? How can you get those beach-ready abs? Well, since your body burns fat as a single unit (regardless of what body part you’re exercising), you really do need to focus on fat burning workouts. The key is to workout your entire body with intense exercises that involve multiple muscle groups. Burn calories and increase muscle mass! Hint hint: Stay off the scale. You’ll be able to notice when you’re losing weight and toning your abs… Trust me!
With all of that said, after cardio and weight training, I do have a few favorite ab workouts. While I know that I’m not burning any belly fat, I can build some muscle and have a sore stomach the next day with this Series of Abdominal Exercises: (Added bonus: No equipment necessary!)
1. V-Ups. While laying on your back, lift your upper body and legs at the same time to form a “V.” My suggestion? Three sets of 25 V-Ups.
2. Arch-Ups. Flip over to your stomach to work out your entire core, including your back! Lift your legs and upper body at the same time to “arch” your back. My suggestion? Again, three sets of 25 reps.
3. Plank. Now that your muscles are warming up, it’s time to make them shake. Hold a forearm plank for one minute. Push up to a push-up position, and hold for 30 seconds. Then, lower yourself back down to a plank. Squeeze your abs and hold this position for another full minute. Are you shaking yet?
4. Side Crunches. Two sides in two different ways! First, lay on your side with a 90 degree angle at your hips. Keep your belly button and your eyes to the side, straight ahead. Do two sets of 50 crunches on each side (right and left). Next, again while on your side with a 90 degree angle at your hips, flip your belly button and eyes straight up to the ceiling. Keep your elbows open and crunch straight up — another two sets of 50 on each side. These crunches will work your obliques!
5. SuperMans. I’m not really sure what these are called, but I call them SuperMans. While kneeling on your hands and knees, lift opposite arm and leg straight out. Hold this balancing position for 10 seconds, and switch. While working your abs, you should feel some other muscles (back, hamstrings, even arms) working too. My suggestion? 25 reps on each side, or 50 “holds” total.
6. Sit-Ups. Yes, there’s a difference between a “sit-up” and a “crunch.” While doing sit ups, you will need someone to either hold your feet or you’ll need to slide them under your step, bench, or even your couch. With your legs stationary, cross your arms over your chest and use ONLY your abs to sit all the way up. Be careful not to rock back in between sit-ups. You only want to work your abs! My suggestion? Three sets of 25 sit-ups.
7. Upper Body Arch-Ups. After all of those sit-ups, you may need to give your abs a break. Flip back on your stomach for more arch ups. This time, however, keep your legs on the ground. Lift only your upper body by lifting your entire chest off the ground and holding yourself there for 10 seconds. My suggestion? Two sets of 10 10-second arch-ups.
8. Side Planks. Back to obliques! Position yourself into a single arm plank (modify if necessary). Then, lower your hips without touching them to the ground, and lift them back up again. These side crunches should burn! Try two sets of 25 on each side.
9. Bicycle Crunches. Position yourself into a hallow hold. Crunch one leg forward at a time while turning your upper body towards that same side so that your opposite elbow meets your knee. Then switch. It should feel like your legs are “riding” a bicycle. My suggestion? Three sets of 25 reps.
10. Straight Leg Raises. Lastly, pay special attention to those hard-to-get lower abs. While laying on your back (you may need to put your hands under your butt to keep your back from arching), raise your legs straight above you. Slowly lower them as close to the ground as you can (flatten out your body) without touching them to the floor. Raise them back up, and repeat. My suggestion? A final burn out. Do as many as you can. Aim for at least 30 reps, but push yourself until your abs are screaming. For an extra challenge, put ankle weights on before this final exercise. You want to be sore tomorrow, don’t you?!
What are your favorite ab exercises? Share them with us @20sTweet!