My top 10 favorite ab exercises...

by Rebecca
(Oakland, Iowa, USA)

1. Core toe tap - Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat. Place a small, rolled-up towel underneath the natural curve of your lower back—if it feels like a big lump under your spine, unroll it a bit to make it smaller.

Tighten your abs slightly, then lift one knee at a time up over your hips. Hold your bent legs close together with your calves parallel to the floor. Rest your hands beneath your head.

Keeping your core muscles tightened, slowly lower your right leg and tap your right toe on the floor. Keep the abs tight as you raise the leg back up. Then lower the other leg and tap the floor. Repeat, alternating legs.

-I like this exercise because it works my abs and obliques.

2. Leg lifts - Raise your left leg straight up in back, stopping when your foot is hip level and your thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold for 10-60 seconds and then switch legs.

-I like this exercise because it works both the butt and core.

3. Alternating leg reach - One lies on their back and slowly, crosses the right leg over the left leg, touching your right foot to the floor just outside of your left calf. Alternate.

-I like this exercise because it works my abs and obliques.

4. Figure 8's - While standing up, hold a weight over your head. Start to draw the shape of a figure 8 with the weight in the air, reaching the loops all the way to your right side. Rotate your torso to the right and as your arms roll around. Continue to loop the around from the right to the left. Keep your abs tight as you weave through the move.

-I like this exercise because it works both abs and obliques.

5. Walking plank - Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and prop yourself up on your forearms. Lower your shoulders. Pull your abs in away from the floor to engage the muscles in your entire torso, then raise your hips off the floor, then raise one knee at a time off the floor until you are in a raised plank position supported on your hands and toes. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.

Make sure that your hips don’t sag or pike up.

Breathe normally.

Hold, then rest and repeat. Without letting your torso tilt, raise one hand an inch off the floor. Then place it back flat. Then raise your other hand an inch off the floor. Continue alternating hand lifts.

-I like this exercise because it works the core muscles.

6. The side crunch - Kneel on the floor and lean all the way over to your right side, placing your right palm on the floor. Keeping your weight balanced, slowly extend your left leg and point your toes. Place your left hand behind your head, pointing your elbow toward the ceiling.

Next, slowly lift your leg to hip height as you extend your arm above your leg, with your palm facing forward. Look out over your hand while bringing the left side of your rib cage toward your hip. Lower to your starting position and repeat 6 to 8 times. Do two sets of 6 to 8 reps, and then switch sides.

-I like this exercise because it works thighs and obliques.

7. Opposite arm and leg raises - Begin on all fours, aligning your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Raise your left arm to shoulder height and your left leg to hip height.

Hold for 2 counts, reaching forward with your fingers and back with your heels. Do 15 to 20 reps, alternating sides. For a bigger challenge, touch your opposite elbow to your knee as you pull your arm and leg in.

-I like this exercise because it works abs and core.

8. Ballet twist - Sit on the floor and extend your legs, pressing them firmly together. Lean back 45 degrees from the hips. Keep your abs engaged as you bring both your arms overhead like a ballerina. Slowly twist your torso to the right, placing your right arm on the mat. Keep your left arm reaching overhead for a slow count of 3.

Repeat the movement, keeping your left arm on the floor, and keeping your butt and heels on the floor. Contract your abs to support your spine as you return to center, bringing both arms overhead. Continue alternating sides. Do 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side.

-I like this exercise because it works back and core.

9. The hundred - Sit tall on the mat with your knees bent by your chest and your hands at your sides. Lie down with your knees bent and your palms facing down. Exhale and raise your head and shoulders off the mat. Vigorously pump your arms 6 inches up and down, reaching with your fingertips. Inhale for 5 pumps, then exhale for 5 pumps. Be sure to curl your chin in toward your chest.

Do 100 pumps, or 10 full breaths. Try to keep your lower back pressed in toward the floor and keep your lower abs pulled in toward your spine. You should keep your abs engaged this way throughout the workout.

-I like this ab exercise because it works the lower back and lower abs.

10. Stability ball twist - Lie back on a stability ball with your feet on the floor. Hold a medicine ball at chest level and extend arms.

Keeping your butt on the ball, slowly rotate your torso to the left until your knuckles are pointing to the wall. Return to center and repeat on the other side.

-I like this exercise because it targets my obliques.

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