Are you ready to commit minutes a day to strengthening the function and appearance of your abs? It's time to take on the challenge! Your core is the steering wheel for every single thing you do: getting out of bed in the morning, walking, moving up and down steps, bending over, carrying groceries and kids — you get the picture. You need core strength and you want that sexy six-pack. Add these exercises into your regular workouts and routine. Be aware there are no rest days! While you're at it, make sure you clean up your diet (click here for foods that help burn the belly fat) and stay hydrated. You can do this challenge any time you want!
Day 1 | Plank Perfection: Time to stabilize. Walk your hands out into a plank or stretch out into from all fours. Get the shoulders over the wrists and pull the shoulder blades apart creating a slightly rounded back and a hollow space under the armpits. Bring the legs together and push back through your heels. You should squeeze the inner thighs like you're holding a piece of paper with them. Those muscles go into the core. Keep the hips neutral and locked into place. Look down at your hands. Breathe. Hold it for 15 seconds, rest for 10; hold for 30 seconds, rest for 10; hold for 45 seconds — accumulate the time if needed, resting no more than 10 seconds in between. Finally, give yourself a full 60-second break before you go for gold: 60 seconds in plank! See more on the plank here. Tip: Think about your alignment, use deep breathing and keep pushing away from the floor.
Modification: Drop to your knees.
Day 2 | Gliding Pikes: Grab some paper plates if you're on carpet or hand towels if you're on a slick surface. Place the balls of your feet in the center of the sliders and push out into your high plank. Using the core, shift your weight into your upper body as the legs draw inward. Think of someone taking a band or belt under your waist and pulling you straight up — or a puppet string attached to your tailbone, pulling straight up. You lead this movement with the hips by pulling the belly button into the spine. Exhale on the way up, inhale on the way down. Complete 10 of these shifts for three rounds, resting a full minute in between rounds. See more here. Tip: Don't rush these! Respect your range of motion.
Modification: Instead of a pike, draw the knees under the hips into a tabletop position.
Day 3 | Dog and Tuck: Start this one in your high plank and push the hips up and backward into your downward dog. Draw the shoulder blades together and push the heels down. When you're ready, lift one leg up into a three-legged dog, then bend that knee as you pull underneath the chest. The shoulders stop right over the wrists. Pause in your high plank with the knee tucked, then send the leg straight back as you dip into the downward dog again. Engage the core by controlling the positioning of your torso and keeping equal weight in all three supporting limbs. Inhale on the way up and exhale as your tuck the knee. Go through 10 on each side; see if you can do it without the 30-second rest in between! Get it right, right here. Tip: Focus on your breathing and how your core functions with each inhale and exhale.
Modification: Drop to all fours, kick one leg out behind you and tuck in under the chest as you round the back (exhale), then extend the leg behind you again (inhale) without dropping the foot to the floor.
Day 4 | C-Crunch Pulses: Time for the infamous C-Crunch! Lie on your back and bend the knees until they're over your hips. Straighten the arms and reach them completely over your head until they're on the floor. Exhale and curl your chest upward and inward as the arms swing up and over to your sides. This is your starting position. Peel the shoulders off the ground, tuck the chin into the chest and pulse. Think of getting a little higher with each pulse, exhaling with short breaths each time you crunch up. Perform the pulses for 30 seconds, then rest for 10, completing three total sets. Master it here. Tip: Look down at your belly and make sure it's not creating a little pyramid/cone shape. Send the belly button into the spine, pressing the lower back into the floor to create a flat belly.
Modification: For beginners, put your feet on the floor.
Day 5 | Ring Pass: You probably don't have a Pilates ring, so grab a squishy ball, pillow, even a light hand weight in place of it. Lie on your back with the object in your hands and completely extend the body. You'll create a nice, natural arch of the spine when fully extended. Lift the arms and legs up at the same time until they meet and you're able to pass the object from the hands to between the feet or ankles. Going from hands-to-feet, then feet-to-hands is one repetition. Double dipping! Complete these passes 25 times total, exhaling on the way up and inhale on the way down. Click here to see more. Tip: Press your back into the mat when you bring the hands and feet together.
Modification: Drop the object, or come to your elbows to lift and lower the legs. Try to keep them straight, but bend the knees if needed.
Day 6 | Side Bends: You'll be off the floor today! Grab your dumbbells (go heavy) in each hand and stand with the feet under the shoulders. Perform a side bend by letting one of the weights pull you down to the side. Keep the hips from hinging and really use your obliques as your raise out of it. Feet stay completely planted the entire time. You can alternate side to side, or repetitively dip on the same side (harder) splitting your minute into 30 seconds on the left, 30 seconds on the right. Perform three rounds, shaking it out for 10 seconds in between. Break it down here. Tip: Find a spot on the wall to focus so you keep your chest lifted.
Modification: Ditch the weights.
Day 7 | Seated Tucks: Sit down with your legs out in front of you and lean back, propping yourself up on your hands. Keep a nice soft elbow. No BOSU? You can do these on the floor, on a couch cushion, an ottoman, a bench or step — get creative! Exhale and tuck the thighs and chest in toward each other. Inhale and lean the torso backward as the legs extend straight out in front. Keep the legs together. Go at your pace for a full minute, rest for a very quick 10 seconds and repeat the tucks for 30 seconds. Rest for 10 and finish big with another full minute. Tip: Pull the belly button into the spine as you lean backward, then sit up straight when you complete the tuck. See more on the move here. Tip: Pretend there are magnets on the chest and thighs, drawing toward each other.
Modification: Stay on your elbows.
Disclaimer: The content of the Skinny Mom blog and website, including text, graphics and images, are for informational purposes only. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have. Do not disregard professional medical advice. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone.