Whittle Your Middle With the All-Abs Workout
Here are nine great exercises for toning your midsection. Remember, the ol' Pilates trick of pulling the belly button in ensures that you're working the deepest ab muscle (known as the transverse), which helps create a sleek midriff.
The exercises are divided into three sections: upper abs, obliques, and lower abs. You can approach this workout three different ways: pick one exercise from each section and perform two to three sets, pick two exercises from each section and do one to two sets, or for the ultimate boredom buster, do one set of all nine exercises.
Model credit: @shafiawest
Obliques: Twisting Side Plank
- Come into a side plank on your right side, with your feet stacked one on top of the other and your weight on your right elbow with your fingers reaching away from your body, palm down.
- Place your left arm behind your head, and inhale to prepare.
- Exhale and pull your navel to your spine to engage your deep abs, and rotate your left rib cage toward the floor. Stay there for a second, and deepen your abdominal connection by pulling your navel in toward your spine even more.
- Return to starting position, and repeat seven more times for a total of eight reps, then switch sides. Repeat series again on both sides.
Obliques: Seated Russian Twist
- 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, but don't let it curve.
- Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your rib cage.
- 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.
- Do 16 full rotations.
To increase the difficulty of this exercise, hold a five-pound medicine ball or dumbbell at chest height.
Lower Abs: Resistance Band Flutter Kicks
- Sit on a mat or carpeted floor. Loop one handle of the resistance band on either foot. Hold onto the middle of the tube with both hands, and lie on your back.
- Draw your navel toward your spine, and press your low spine into the floor to protect your lower back, then lift both legs up so they are almost pointing straight up toward the ceiling.
- Holding the band securely, scissor your legs up and down one at a time, starting with the left leg. Move slowly, and point your toes. Each time your right foot lowers down counts as one set. Complete 10 to 15 sets.
- To make this move more difficult, lower your legs so they are about six to 10 inches above the floor — illustrated in the lower image. Make sure to keep your abs scooped when you work with your legs close to the ground. Scissor your legs for another 10 to 15 sets.
Lower Abs: Double Crunch
- Lie on your back on the floor, raising your arms and legs to a 90-degree angle.
- Engage your abs to lift both your shoulders and pelvis off the ground. Touch your fingers to your toes.
- Keeping your core engaged the entire time, slowly lower them back to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Do 20 reps.
BONUS: 10-Minute Standing Ab Workout
It's time to the give up crunches to do some ab exercises that really work. Skip lying on the ground and give this 10-minute ab workout a whirl. Adding a dumbbell to the workout makes it even more effective. Grab your weight, between five and 10 pounds, then press play, and get ready to work!