I’m all for the classic crunch, but it’s important to remember that you activate and work your abs in just about every single move you make. To get the abs you want, you don’t have to stick only to traditional core exercises. That’s why I put together a short circuit of abdominal moves that activate your entire core, including your back muscles. This routine can also get your heart pumping to blast fat if you pick up the tempo and repeat the circuit a few times. You can add these moves to the end of your workout, or do them alone on a rest day. I would recommend that you focus on your core no more than 3 days a week, as these muscles typically need lots of recovery time to shine. Do each move for 30 seconds and repeat the entire circuit 3 to 4 times. Good luck!
Lie on your back with hands behind your head on under your lower back. Lift legs about 3 inches off the floor and point toes. Cross the right leg over the left leg. Then switch to cross the left leg over the right and repeat. Focus the work on your lower abdominals. For an added challenge, lift your head and shoulders slightly off the mat to fire up the upper abs as well.
2. Rocky Sit Ups
These are named after the great training montage from the Rocky movies. You probably know them best as your least favorite part of gym class. For this move, start lying on the floor with hands crossing the chest and knees bent. Sit up until your elbows touch your knees, or as close as you can. Return to start and repeat. If this move is too difficult, adjust your hands to hold just below your head. To make it a bit easier than that, keep hands extended above your head to act as a level propelling you all the way up.
3. Ab Sprinters
Now to take your circuit up a notch, this move will raise your heart rate a bit more while you still focus on your abs. To begin this move, sit up nice and tall with feet on the ground. Lean back until you activate your abs (they should feel slightly uncomfortable and muscles will flex to hold you up). Now pick up the feet up off the ground and bring one knee into your chest at a time while extending the other leg straight out. If you have trouble with your balance at first, gently tap your foot on the ground each time you extend your leg. Pick up the pace more a bigger calorie burn!
4. Plank Jacks
Keeping your heart rate up with this move, get into plank position either on your forearms or your hands. Jump your feet apart as if you were doing jumping jacks, then jump your feet back together. Simple as that! If you prefer to do this move without the jumping, you can tap one foot out to the side, bring it back to start, then tap the other foot out and return to start. Most importantly, you should keep your hips low in this move, using your lower abs to keep the core (abs and back) engaged. Although you are jumping, there should be minimal bouncing because you’ll have your core, glutes, and legs engaged.
For the final move of the circuit, you’ll focus your attention on your back muscles, as they are just as important to supporting those awesome abs of yours! Start by lying flat on your belly with arms and legs extended straight out from body. Engage your core the entire time so that you are “floating” on rock solid abs. Raise your right arm an inch or two off the floor while lifting the left leg up slightly at the same time. Keep the glutes and shoulders engaged throughout. Quickly switch to the opposite arm and leg. You will probably look more like you’re flailing instead of actually swimming, but you should feel this in your lower back, glutes, and abs! Pick up the pace, but don’t lose your form! (If I were my own trainer I’d tell me to not lift my legs as high to feel more glute work!)
And there you have it! Try to perform each move above for 30 seconds with no rest between moves. Repeat the entire circuit 3 or 4 times (or fewer if you’re just starting out). Let me know how it turns out!