Your abdominals, or your core as I like to call it, is one of the most important parts of your body. It is also the number one body part I hear women telling me they want to tighten up and strengthen. Here are a few of my favorite exercises that hit your core in the right spots to help you get those tight abs you have been wanting. Doing these strength exercises along with the correct amount of cardio each week will start getting you to your bikini ready body for your honeymoon!
One of my favorite and most beneficial ab exercises is the plank. The plank targets your deep abdominals and as these muscle strengthen they will help stabilize your spine, improve your posture and make every strength move more stable. As you are building up your abdominals start with your plank using your knees instead of your full body weight on your feet. Begin with 20 sec increments of time and work up until you can hold it for a full minute. Once you have conquered your knee plank, fully extend your body so your holding yourself up with your elbows and your toes. Again, build up your strength starting with short 20 second periods – until you can hold the plank for 1 minute+.
The side plank is just as easy while directly hitting your obliques – and will help whittle your waist smaller! All you have to do is open up your body so that you are holding yourself up with only one elbow and your other hand is on your hip. Just as you did the plank, begin in short increments and start building up so you can hold yourself up off your knees and just with your elbow and toes.
There are numerous progressions for these exercises but those will come with strength. By mastering these two moves you will feel significantly stronger in your core and save yourself from injury down the line!
The woodchop can be executed with dumbbells, medicine balls or any spare soup can you have lying around the house. This is a great way to dynamically work your full abdominal muscles. Bring the dumbbell or medicine ball down to your left hip and then quickly move it up diagonally to your right shoulder as if you were going to throw it over your right shoulder. The action in your abdominals that you will use to stop the ball from flying over your shoulder is key to this exercise.
Start this exercise on your knee and then when you feel strong enough move up so you are standing while you are doing the chopping motion. When you are standing make sure to get your legs into the motion and squat down when you lower the dumbbell and fully extend up when you raise it diagonally to burn the most calories.
The V up is a more advanced move but can be modified to fit your strength level. Begin with your body lying on a yoga mat or carpet and you will want to pull your legs up and your chest up so that your body forms a V as shown below. Hold this position for a 3 – 5 second count and then release it back to where you started.
One of the key parts of this exercise is to maintain your eyes looking up at all times. People tend to do this exercise with their elbows and not their abdominals which ends up pulling your neck forward and will be painful after awhile. First, lie on your back with your elbows behind your head so that they are out of your peripheral vision. Keep your elbows pulled back and your eyes looking up so that your neck and spine stay in neutral. Next, bring your knee to your opposite elbow and hold this for a 1 – 2 second count and then switch – alternating between knees. You will want to speed this exercise up, mostly to get it over with quicker but I will challenge you to keep it slow and you will tighten your core quicker!
Stability Ball In and Out’s
This is a much more advanced move but it something fun to work up to! Climb onto the stability ball (there is no graceful way to do this) so that your shins are on the ball, your hands are supporting yourself on the floor and your body is in a curled up position as shown below. Next, you will push your shins out so that your body is fully extended in a plank position. Once you are stable, pull your shins back towards your chest and continue the exercise pushing out and pulling in.
All of these exercises have progressions to make them harder or regressions to bring them to your level. Do 20 – 25 of each of these exercises in a circuit and repeat the circuit 2 – 3 times for your best results. The key is starting with the basic exercises and challenging yourself to go further as you master them!
What are the best abdominal moves that got you ready for your wedding?!
Photo credit: Ace Fitness