When you want to keep your abs firm, lose inches and flab in the midsection, and have better posture and balance; try these five hot exercises that have stood the test of time as techniques that really do work.
The muscles of the abdomen are critical to maintain for good health and overall body strength. They are also a major problem area for women particularly and require daily work for best results. The good thing, though, is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to work the abs. A typical 5-10 minute routine is enough.
The bicycle has often been touted as the most effective abs exercise there is, because it engages the upper, lower and side abs all at the same time. To begin, lie flat on your back with legs bent, feet planted firmly on the floor, and hands behind your head for light support.
Lift the knees and shoulders off the ground. Imagine you’re pedaling a bicycle and alternate touching your right elbow to your left knee with right leg extended, then your left elbow to your right knee with left leg extended.
Continue the motion for 12 reps on each leg, 1-3 sets at a time. Alternate Method: The bicycle crunch is slightly different and more difficult in that you are isolating one side at a time. Assume the form of the bicycle maneuver, but this time do 12 reps on each leg without alternating and lower your head and shoulders between reps. Repeat on opposite side.
Captain’s Chair Crunch
This exercise is normally done at a gym using the captain’s chair, but assuming that you are at home without the use of gym equipment, try this instead: Sit up tall in a sturdy, armless chair, feet on the floor in front of you. Grasp the sides of the chair just in front of your hips. Tense your abs and slowly lift your legs, pressing your knees into your chest. Hold a few seconds and lower knees, and then repeat for 12-15 reps. This exercise works the lower abs the most.
Vertical Leg Crunch
This exercise is a variant of the regular crunch, but works the obliques (or side abs) and the rectus abdominis (the entire abs frontal). Assume the crunch position, lying flat on your back with the legs extended straight up and feet crossed at the ankles. With your hands behind your head, lift your shoulder blades straight up off the floor toward the ceiling and repeat for 12-15 reps. One to three sets is a good start.
This exercises targets the rectus abdominis and lower abs. Start by lying on your back, hands at your sides and feet on the floor. Pull your knees toward your chest, creating a right angle with your legs and crossing your feet at the ankles. Use your core strength to lift your hips off the floor slightly and back down for 12-15 reps. Complete 1-3 sets.
This exercise is meant to target the upper and lower abs. Assume the crunch position with feet on the floor and hands behind your head. Lift both your head and legs off the floor using your core muscles and lower back down just before touching the floor. Repeat for 12-15 reps. Rest for 30 seconds and complete 1-3 sets.