Bikini season is just a few weeks away, and if you’re anything like me, you want to tone your tummy a bit before your first beach day. Aside from cutting back on the calories and getting some good cardio four days a week (for 20 minutes), you need to start adding three or four days of ab work, too! Not sure what exercises to add to your work-out to tone your abs? No worries! Here’s my list of the seven best ab exercises…
1. Decline Bench Leg Raises
You might be wondering how doing leg raises is going to work you abs, but trust me, after even one set of 12 of these, you’ll see. Sit on a decline bench with your hands behind you, gripping the bench, for support. Bend your knees, then using your hips as a pivot point, raise your knees up to your chest, then lower them in a controlled movement. Remember, use your HIPS as the pivot, or you might put undue strain on your back!
2. BOSU Ball Planks
Place the BOSU ball with the flat side on the ground. Lay in a straight “plank” position with your toes pointed and resting at the top of the BOSU ball, your shoulders and abs tight, and your body weight resting on your elbows. Hold that position as long as you can, but aim for at least 90 seconds. The difficulty will be in maintaining your balance and plank position… how long can you hold it?
3. Decline Bench Oblique Crunches
Lie flat on your back on a decline bench with your ankles at the top, your head at the bottom, and your shoulders flat on the bench. Place your fingertips at your temples, then crunch your abs as you rise up, and point your left elbow at your right side, then lower yourself back down. As soon as your shoulders touch the bench, crunch your abs, rise up, and point your right elbow at your left side. You do NOT need to come up very far, only to a half-sitting position. If you go any further up, you might strain your back, and you won’t be getting any better of an ab work-out.
4. Decline Bench Dumbbell Push Crunch
Assume the same position on the decline bench as you would for the oblique crunches, but this time hold two light-weight dumbbells, one in each hand, and instead of twisting to one side slightly as you come up, raise the dumbbells as though you were “punching” up to the ceiling. Be VERY careful that you don’t drop the dumbbells on yourself! Again, you don’t need to come up very far, only to a half-sitting position, before you lay down again, and as soon as your shoulders touch the bench, it’s time to come back up for another crunch.
5. BOSU Ball & Bench Crunch (with Kettle Ball)
My personal trainer added this to my routine a few months ago, and it STILL kicks my butt! Place the BOSU ball with the flat side down, about 18” from a bench. Place your heels, toes pointing up, on the edge of the bench, and sit with your bottom just resting on the edge of the BOSU ball. Your knees ought to be bent at a 90 degree angle. Lean back, with the kettle ball over your head, then sit up and touch the kettle ball to your shins. Lean back, and repeat. This may not sound very difficult, but do three sets of 12 to 15, with 30 seconds between sets, and you’ll be wiped.
6. BOSU Ball Reverse Planks
Place the BOSU ball on the floor with the flat side down. Lie on your back with your shoulders on the BOSU ball and your knees bent. Straighten just one leg, then rise up on your hips, keeping your leg as straight as possible, with your opposite foot flat on the floor (don’t raise up on your toes) then return to the floor. Do each leg 12 times, and do three sets. Yow!
7. Flutter Kicks, Back and Front
Lie flat on the floor face-up, with your body straight. Keeping your legs straight, raise them up off the ground about 10 inches, then kick your feet for about 45 to 60 seconds. Flip over so you’re facing down, and do the same thing. Repeat so you’ve done each side three times, with a 30-second break between sets.
Add two or three of these ab exercises to your daily routine, and you’ll notice a difference almost immediately. Remember, if you’re a little sore the day after your work-out, then you’re accomplishing something! Do you have any other great ab exercises to share? Please let me know! I love ab exercises!
Top Photo Credit: JayceG