March 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm , by jbrown
It’s so easy to get into an exercise rut, particularly when it comes to toning your abs. You see a bit too much flesh on your tummy and you immediately start doing crunches to get rid of it. It’s almost like a Pavlovian response. Unfortunately, it’s a flawed response because a) crunches challenge only one of the muscles in your core so you don’t get great results, and b) you could hurt your back if they’re always your go-to move.
To get rut-busting core exercises that really work, I went to Jackie Warner, the no-nonsense trainer of Bravo’s Work Out fame and author of the upcoming book This Is Why You’re Fat (and How to Get Thin Forever). These five ultra-firming moves are sure to give your routine the shake-up it needs. Aim to do 3 sets of 20 reps of each exercise, but be sure to work up to that gradually. These moves are challenging, so do whatever you can in the beginning.
Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent in front of you, heels on the floor and hands behind head. Lower torso no further than 45 degrees (see photo #1 above—this is the starting position). Come up and twist your torso to the right, bringing right elbow to left knee (photo #2). Aim for 20 reps and repeat on the opposite side to complete the set.
Single-arm knee-touch extensions
Kneel on the ground and come onto all fours, making sure that your knees are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. Bring right elbow to left knee (photo #1) then simultaneously extend left leg behind you and right arm in front of you until both are parallel to the floor, keeping head and spine aligned (photo #2.) Aim for 20 reps and repeat with left elbow/right knee to complete the set. (Bonus: This move works your abs and your butt!)
Begin by lying on your right side, legs together and feet stacked. Come into side plank position by propping yourself up on your right forearm; keep right shoulder beneath right elbow and place your left hand on your hip. Slowly lower your hips toward the floor then return to side plank position. Aim for 20 reps and repeat on the left side to complete the set.
Lie on your back and hold a dumbbell (or water bottle) in both hands above your chest, elbows bent. Crunch up and bring your knees in toward your chest as you extend your arms forward to bring the dumbbell over your knees (photo #1.) Slowly return to the floor, bringing dumbbell back in toward chest as shown in photo #2. Aim for 20 reps.
Lie on your back and extend your arms behind your head. Crunch up and try to touch your right foot with your left hand; return to starting position. Aim for 20 reps and repeat with left foot/right hand to complete the set.
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