If you dream of sporting your bikini this summer and making a “whoa, mama” statement with your sculpted abs, then wake up! Your dream can be a reality. You have heard that abs are made in the kitchen and there is no denying that the food that you put into your body plays a huge role in banishing fat to allow those chiseled abs to play a front and center role on your torso, but strengthening those rectus abdominus muscles is critical in order to make that obscure dream of having a six-pack a reality. The real surprise may be that no traditional crunches or sit-ups are required!
Follow this sequence of moves at least 3-5 times a week, coupled with a clean diet, and you will be revealing your washboard waist in no time!
1. Rotating Medicine Ball Push-up Plank: Most people underestimate the power of a push up. The push up not only engages the upper body but is a stellar core strengthener as well. Adding the medicine ball for instability allows you to challenge and engage each side of muscles a bit more. Repeat rotation until 10 push ups are performed with medicine ball on each side (20 total push ups).
Beginner Modification: Set the ball aside and perform traditional push ups on hand or knees.
2. Side Plank Super Crunch: We said no traditional crunches would be required and we meant it! There is nothing ordinary about the muscles engaged in this super-sized core move. The engagement of a side plank coupled with a crunch performed by lifting the top leg towards your elbow allows for repeat flexion and extension of the rectus abdominus muscles while engaging all core muscles at the same time.
Beginner Modification: If you are still working on perfecting a side plank, skip the crunch and simply hold up your side plank, aiming for 45 seconds. If you need to come down from plank, count to five, and come back up to finish out the 45 seconds.
3. Wood Chopper: Standing abdominal exercises are great ways to truly engage the muscles that help us with balance and posture and give us that sculpted six-pack. Adding resistance or weight to this Wood Chopper move is a true test to challenge those girdle muscles that hold our tummy tight. The key to this move is to avoid the urge to swing and instead focus on form and deliberate, controlled movements. Continue movement for 30 seconds on each side, repeating sequence on each side 2-3 times.
Beginner Modification: Start with no weight or light weight to perform this move focused on stability and form before adding weight.
4. Plank Curls on Stability Ball: Your abs are front and center in this curling movement performed with a stability ball, but you get an added bonus of upper body conditioning with this two-for-one move. The key to successfully performing this move is making sure as you roll the ball back out you return to perfect plank form before repeating curl. Repeat this move for a period of specified time – aiming for one minute. Decrease or increase time based on level.
5. Plank Twist on Chair: Grab a chair and get ready for a another double-duty move that engages the core muscles and serves as a booty lifter at the same time…oh, and a little arm strengthening sprinkled in too. Focus on slow, controlled movements when moving your knee in to opposite elbow and then extending out. Come down into perfect plank position before repeating. Repeat movement 10 times using right leg, and repeat 10 times using left leg. Repeat sequence 3-4 times.
6. Alternating Toe Touches: You will feel that six-pack abs fire up with this movement as you focus on engaging the rectus abdominus in controlled movements as you reach for your toes. The key to performing this exercise is to zone in on using those abdominal muscles to pull yourself up rather than relying on your neck and back. Perform on each side for 60 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times on each leg.
7. Thread the Needle: This move is another variation of the side plank that supersizes the core engagement by adding movement that further engages the core muscles to contract. The key factor in adding this movement to your side plank is to keep the hips square as you move your arm under your hip. You can perform this move with or without weight in hand, depending on level of intensity desired. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side.
8. Forearm Plank with Alternating Hip Dips: Another plank variation to supersize your sculpting session, this plank that adds a hip rotation will challenge the core to work as you focus on controlled movement while keeping the back in straight alignment as you sway your way to six-pack abs. Repeat this movement for time. Aiming for one minute, reducing or increasing time based on level.
9. Side-to-Side Speed Plank: This all-in-one plank variation will get your heart pumping so it’s a combination that blasts fat and sculpts core muscles. Speed will depend on performance level so focus on form first keeping those feet together as you jump side-to-side in order to keep core engaged. Hop across mat 20 times (10 on each side). Rest briefly and repeat 3-4 times.
10. Shifting Plank With Towels: This move can be deceptive as it looks like it may only engage your arms bit it is truly the core muscles doing the work. Grab a towel (or even a paper plate) and move to a surface that will allow the towels to slide and shift your way to a sculpted waist line.
11. Bestie Planks: It’s always fun to recruit a partner to work out with and this plank variation is a great way to work as a team focused on winning washboard abs. Working out alone? No problem, do this movement in front of a wall or simply mime your way through acting as if a flat surface is in front of you to high five. Repeat for time, aiming for one full minute. If you need to modify, hold plank on knees rather than toes.