With Halloween parties and the holidays quickly approaching, it's time to get (or keep) those abs in tip-top shape — after all, you don't want Spanx accompanying you as your dinner party date! The next time you hit the gym or go to stretch after a workout, bring these three ab exercises to your usual routine. This combination doesn't take very long, nor does it require equipment (commercial break activity, anyone?), but the combination of the three will tighten and tone your tummy in no time, so you can rock that costume or LBD with confidence.
Russian twists are a great way to tone your abs, especially your obliques. You can do them without equipment, but for quicker results, try holding a dumbbell or adding a medicine ball at chest height. Watch this video for a few Russian twist variations, or follow these steps:
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your bum.
- Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, so don't let it curve.
- Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands holding either side of the dumbbell. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your ribcage.
- Pull your navel to your spine, and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center, and rotate to the right. This completes one rep. Lift your feet off the ground for a more advanced variation.
- Do 16 full rotations.
A traditional elbow plank offers total-body tone and is a great way to target your entire middle. There are many variations to challenge your plank, but first master the basic elbow plank following these steps:
- Start on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
- Step your feet out one at a time, coming into a plank position.
- Contract your abs to prevent your booty from sticking up or sinking. Your spine should be parallel to the floor, with your abs pulling toward the ceiling.
- Hold for 30 seconds; work your way up to one minute as you build strength.
If you often do traditional crunches, try bumping up the intensity with toe touches. The challenge here is trying not to bend your knees to fully target your upper abs. Follow these easy steps:
- Lie on your back on the floor. Raise your arms to your ears or directly above your chest.
- Without lifting your hips from the ground, raise your legs, holding them there throughout the set.
- Use your abs to slowly curl your shoulders off the ground, bringing your fingertips to your toes. Now slowly lower your shoulders to the ground, pausing at the starting position to complete one rep. Don't use your neck as momentum to make the motion.
- Do 20 reps.