30-Minute Ab Challenge

| Fitness
abs
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Most people look at abs as the sexy accessory to a healthy lifestyle, but what if we told you that there was more to the abs than just sex appeal? Abdominal muscles are connected to our spines, which makes them crucial for correct posture, balance and avoiding back pain altogether. Some people only want the rippling six-pack abs so they'll look fabulous at the pool, but what they don't know is all the added benefits that comes along with them. This 30-minute ab challenge is meant to strengthen your core, as well as your lower back to keep you healthy and fit—and even just a little bit sexy. If you're up for the challenge, repeat the list a second time to boost your muscle building and weight loss. Good luck!

ab challenge

50 Bicycle Crunches: They're the second best thing to being on an actual bike! The bicycle crunch activates your glutes (woo hoo!), abdominals and hip flexors.

  • Lie on your back with hands behind your head, knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground, and keep them off the ground for this whole exercise. Twist your torso to the right, bringing your left shoulder in to touch your right knee. Keep left leg straight and lifted off the floor.
  • Repeat, twisting torso to the left and bringing your right shoulder into touch your left knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows. That is one rep. Continue switching sides for 50 reps.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

Bicycle Crunch

50 Flutter Kicks: You'll feel the burn in your hip flexors and abdominals almost immediately. Be careful not to strain your neck too much as you hold your head off the floor.

  • Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides, palms facing down and your lower back pressed firmly into the floor. Lift your feet and shoulders 6 to 8 inches off the floor. Quickly kick (flutter) your legs up and down, raising and lowering your feet only a few inches.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

Flutter Kicks

40 Ab Roll-Ups: This move might look a little wild for some of you, but give it a shot! It's a total body workout, which means it's working multiple muscles groups all at once.

  • To begin, lie on your back with arms at your sides and palms facing down. Lift your butt and lower back up in the air so that the bottoms of your feet are facing the ceiling.
  • In one fluid motion, lower your back and legs and transition to your feet while jumping in the air as high as you can with arms extended straight overhead. That is one rep. Do 40.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

ab-roll-up

100 Heel Touches (Toe Taps): This core exercise has you on your back while your knees and feet are in the air! Push yourself to make it to 100 toe taps!

  • Lie on your back and lift the knees over the hips. It’s very important to make sure the knees do not come any close to the chest. Use those hip flexors to stabilize! Place your hands on your tummy or at your sides, wherever it’s comfortable.
  • Drop on foot down to the floor and tap your toes. Immediately lift the leg up again as the other leg comes down and taps. Use quick exhales to help you. Keep your back to the mat at all times. Modification: Come to your elbows.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

toe taps

15 Pushups: You'll work your upper body (triceps and biceps) as well as your core with this move. If needed, rest on your knees instead of your tip-toes, but attempt a full push-up first.

  • Assume plank position, with your arms shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • See step-by-step photos here. Pushup

40 Mountain Climbers: This move is non-stop, so make sure you push yourself and don't stop for many breaks unless absolutely necessary. This high-energy move activates your core and glutes, so push hard!

  • Begin in high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight, diagonal line from your head to your heels.
  • With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest, with the toes just off the ground. Return to your basic plank. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward. Keep alternating legs and pick up the pace until it feels a little like running in place in a plank position.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

Mountain Climbers

1 Minute Plank: Your abs are about to get a big workout! If you're a beginner and you need a moderate modification, you can perform this move on your knees.

  • Lie face-down on floor resting on your forearms. Push up off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, contracting your abdominal muscles while you hold your body in a straight line from head to heels. Don’t let your butt sag or stick up in the air.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

Plank Up Downs

15 Sit-Ups: Attempt to pull your body all the way up to your knees to really activate your core.  If you feel a strain on your neck, however, smaller movements are allowed. Make sure to pull yourself by focusing on your abdominal muscles, not your neck.

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Your elbows should be pointing outward.
  • Raise your head, shoulders and upper body toward your knees. Avoid arching your back. Lead with your chest, not your head. Exhale as your rise, inhale as you lower back down to the mat.
  • See step-by-step photos here.

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