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May 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm , by jbrown
“What’s the secret to great abs?” When people find out I’m a personal trainer, this is always the first question they ask me. My answer? Variety. It’s not really a secret, and it’s definitely not the lone fix for a flabby midsection; obviously you need to do cardio and eat healthfully too. But when it comes to ab workouts, variety is often what’s missing. If you always do the same moves, your muscles get just as bored as you will—and you’ll stop seeing improvement.
To make it as easy as humanly possible for you to get out of your rut, I’ve rounded up 15 of my favorite ab exercises you can do anywhere—no gym or fancy equipment required. And these moves don’t just target the typically overtrained rectus abdominus (the most superficial of the ab muscles.) By working your core from all angles, you’ll get firm, flat and strong abs you’ve always wanted.
1. Side plank with bent knees
This move works your internal and external obliques, which run along the sides of your midsection. It also targets the often-neglected transverse abdominus (TVA), a deep layer of muscle that wraps around your torso like a corset. A strong TVA makes your abs look flatter, improves your posture and prevents lower back pain. If this move feels too easy, make it tougher by extending your knees straight and stacking one foot on top of the other.
2. Side plank with rotation
If you’re already a master of the side plank, add a twist.
3. Leg lift and lower
Another great exercise for your transverse abdominus. Don’t be fooled by how simple it looks!
5. Cheek to cheek
Target your obliques by adding hip dips to your plank.
March 28, 2011 at 10:22 am , by Jenn Sinrich
It’s round, you twirl it around your waist—and chances are you haven’t come in contact with one since you left elementary school. It’s the hula hoop, and it’s making a big comeback via Hoopnotica, a ridiculously fun workout. I got a lesson with founder and CEO Gabriella Redding, who lost 65 pounds(!) after her first pregnancy when she started exercising with hula hoops that were lying around her house.
Never been able to use a hula hoop before? Neither could I! We took our meeting to the elevator lobby, and Redding got me moving my hips and keeping a hoop above my waist for the first time ever. If this LHJ intern (that’s me, right) can learn in just a few minutes, anyone will be able to master the craft.
Fun, yes. As for the exercise value, I was a little skeptical. But it’s harder than it looks—hooping burns up to 600 calories an hour, Redding says. A Hoopnotica hoop is not the traditional, plastic hoop from the playground: it’s 43 inches in diameter and weighs about two pounds. The heavier weight creates a stronger centripetal force and gains the momentum necessary to stay on your hips while it spins. It also makes you work a little harder.
And it’s a really fun way to get moving. Once you start stepping and dancing to the music during a Hoopnotica routine, you’re getting a complete lower and upper body workout, Redding adds.
You can order the hoop (which collapses into a carrying case) and the instructional DVD here if you want to try it at home. Or get your girlfriends together and sign up for classes, which are offered in gyms across the country.
April 2, 2010 at 11:09 am , by Mandy Hendrix
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Sure, I’ve tried them, but can’t seem to stick with them for too long. What really gets me going is the idea of spring cleaning. The whole refresh and renew bit really gets me revved up, and not just when spiffing up the house, but in all areas of my life. I’m especially excited by anything that promises easy reinvention.
This spring, I’m betting on the Tone Up Challenge developed by Dickinson’s Witch Hazel and the Women’s Sports Foundation. What’s so cool about it? It’s a quick program (14 days), a small time commitment every day, and not only on a workout routine, but skin care routine, too. It’s the whole package.
So, I’m starting today. Here’s the agenda…
Tone Up!: Beginner pushups, 8-15 reps, 2-3 sets.
Get Active!: Remind myself to walk an extra 15 minutes 5 days per week.
Look Great!: After working out, clean off sweat with witch hazel toner.
Whew, I feel better already.
Photo via bhg.com
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.