Time to Tighten up the Tummy, Battle the Bulge, Crush the Core… Are you in?

I thought I would share some of my favorite abdominal exercises with you this week.  We could all use a bit more ab work, right?  I know I was lacking a “muffin top” a few years back so I figured I’d start to work on flattening things out in that area, once again, but this time a little harder, as it seems to not want to budge!

Just a reminder, I am no personal trainer but I have researched all of the exercises I share and also share advice on keeping proper form, which is the most important thing in all exercise.  Please consult a professional trainer if you have questions or are unsure about anything listed here or in my other postings.  With that said, let’s get to it!

  • Hanging Leg Lifts – You may wanna grab your gloves and/or grips for this one!  Grab a bar overhead, about hips’s distance apart.  Hanging from the bar, point your toes to the floor.  Using a slow and controlled motion, lift your legs, feet together, until they are 90 degrees.  If you are able to take it past 90 degrees, great!  Then, slowly lower the legs back down.  Very important here… avoid swinging.  Start with 4-6 of these.  Do more if possible, shooting for 12-15 in a set.  Add another set when you feel strong enough.  Lambaste the lower abs with these guys!
  • Vertical Lifts – Lie flat on your back and lift your legs until they’re perpendicular to your body.  Flex your feet, so the bottom of your shoes are parallel to the ceiling.   Grab a weight (maybe start with 5 lbs.) and hold it up in the air, right over your chest.   Keeping your legs still, lift your chest and shoulders off the floor and try to touch the tops of your feet with the weight.  Try for 12-15 repetitions.  If that’s easy, do a second set.  Upsetting the upper abs, here, friends!
  • Leg Lower/Alternating Sides – Starting out in the same position as the vertical lift, place your arms flat on the floor, perpendicular to the body (a T formation), palms facing down.  Slowly lower the legs to one side, until the toes are a few inches from the hand.  Do not tap the feet to the floor, rather, work hard to slowly return to start.  Repeat on the other side.  Again, shoot for 12 and when you work your way to a second set, have at it!  Obliterate the obliques here, folks!
  • Bench Crunch with Body Bar – Lie on a bench in a bent knee position, with your feet together.  Holding a body bar of 10-15 lbs., extend your arms so the bar is directly above your chest (your hands should be about shoulder width apart.  Keeping your arms straight, no bend in the elbows, crunch up by lifting your upper back and shoulders off the bench and reach for the ceiling with the bar.  Slowly return to your starting position.  See if you can get 12-15 controlled repetitions, then add sets as you are able.  Once again, you’re urging those uppers to tighten UP!
  • Walking Lunge with a Twist – Holding a weighted ball, free weight or plate (10-25 lbs.), start with your feet hip’s distance apart.  Position the plate so it’s in front of your body, with your elbows bent. Lunge forward with your right leg and at the same time, twist your upper body 90 degrees to the right Twist back and at the same time, step back to your starting position.  Repeat this on the left side.  Or, for a more intense option, do it as a walking lunge, alternating sides.  Again, work toward 12-25 reps and increase to a second set when you’re ready.  This is a core crusher, for sure!
  • Super(wo)man – I like to work my lower back, to help strengthen my core.  Abs support lower back, strong lower back, stronger abs?  Perhaps!  The “superman” or as I call it, the “superwoman” is one of my favorites for the lower back.  Lie on your stomach with your legs hip’s distance apart. Extend your arms in front of you about shoulder width apart, palms facing down. Lift your head off the floor tuck your chin a bit so your eye gaze is on the floor about a foot in front of you, and at the same time, lift your legs (ideally lifting the hips off the floor, not just the legs).  Hold for a count to 15.  You can also do this by alternating top half/bottom half of the body or lifting opposing arm/leg and alternating that way.  Shoot for 12-15.  Blast that back!

Go give some of these a shot.  Remember, abdominal work is good to add in after your cardio workout, about 3 times/week, but not two days in a row.  Give them a day to rest/recover/repair and then go “tear ‘em up” again.  Have fun with these and let us know how it goes!
Carri Nelsen of Gold’s Gym in Shrewsbury.

Got questions for Carri?  E-mail them to blogs@TheZoneMag.com.

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