#FitnessFriday: AB-solutely Beach Ready

AB-solutely ready to hit the beach!

With swim-suit weather here, some of us are already thinking of ways to cover up that mid-section. You have been hitting the gym hard, but working your abdomen is the last thing you feel up for after an hour on the treadmill. Don’t fret! I am going to share with you the five best ab exercises to do in under ten minutes at the gym. From your obliques to upper and lower abdomen, these core exercises are sure to set fire to your muscles and provide your with a slim, toned waistline begging to hit the beach!

 

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Plank

Performing stabilization exercises like the plank will sustain core strength and proper spine alignment.

Begin in a pushup position with your hands and feet being the only body parts on the ground. Bend at your elbows, and rest your body’s weight on your forearms. Your arms should form a 90-degree angle with your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from head to feet. Taking steady breaths, hold this position for as long as you can.

When done with correct form, the plank can establish strength in other areas of the body like the arms, shoulders and glutes. Beginners can start with a modified plank version on the knees while those ready for a more advanced version can attempt moving planks.

 

Leg Raise

A simple leg raise is a great way to work out your abdomen!

To get into your start position, lie with your back flat on the ground, legs extended in front of you and arms by your sides or hands underneath your glutes and/or low back for added support. Keeping your legs straight with a soft bend in the knee for comfort, simply raise your legs until they make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Exhale and hold the legs at the top for a second. Slowly lower legs back down to start position as you inhale. Repeat.

If your lower back begins to hurt, bend your knees. To make this exercise more challenging, try using a decline bench or even hanging from a chin up bar. Regardless of which variation you choose, leg raises will surely help tone up your lower and upper abdomen muscles.

 

Bicycles

Every inch of your body is working to strengthen your core with  this staple ab exercise.

Lie with your back flat on the floor and hands underneath the neck for support. Make sure to leave elbows and chest open while performing this exercise so you don’t put strain on the neck. Begin by bringing your right knee up to where it is perpendicular to the floor while the lower, left leg remains parallel to the floor. Kick forward with the right leg, and bring in the left knee as if you are going through a cycle pedal motion. Simultaneously bring your opposite elbow close toward the knee being lifted, and crunch. Alternate side to side with fluid motion and breathing.

This workout is meant to target the entire abdomen while tapping into the obliques. Try doing a few slowly for 10-15 repetitions and speed it up for another 10-15 reps so you can feel those abs burn!

 

Side-bend

Side flexion exercises like side bends target the muscles on the side of your torso (the internal and external obliques).

Standing, hold a pair of light dumbbells over your head, arms straight and in line with your shoulders. Without twisting your upper body, slowly bend directly to your left side as far as you can. Pause and return upright. Then bend to your right side. Alternate back and forth with each repetition.

Make sure to keep your arms locked and in place as you bend at your side. More importantly though, keep your core tight and engaged every time you bend and recover. Performing multiple sets of side-bends will help cinch in your waistline.

 

Cardio

Though this is not an specific ab exercise, cardio is one of the most important components of having a lean, toned mid-section. As we age, we begin to store fat on top of muscle which does not necessarily disappear after performing hundreds of leg raises and planks. So the best way to get rid of the fat hiding your six pack is regular high intensity cardio. Doing sprints on the treadmill is also a good option, but don’t forget to switch things up. Try performing a 30 minute circuit of 20-30 second bursts of cardio based exercises like mountain climbers, burpees or ski hops with 10 seconds of rests between exercises.

 

 

To get that six pack ready for pool-side, give these five core exercises a try!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC