Hi, all! It's already almost the end of March.. can you believe it?
This means that summer is right around the corner! If you're from the Midwest like I am, it's easy to put on a littttle winter weight, especially around the midsection, thanks to rich foods and loose sweaters 😃 OOPS. GUILTY.
With summer, AND MISS USA, looming right around the corner, it's time to get those abs in check. I've included a few of my favorite abdominal exercises and variations to get that 6-pack ready for bikini season!
I've suggested sets, times, and repetitions, but feel free to do more or less depending on your fitness level. I always like the feeling of working hard and being a little sore the next day (Hello, delayed onset muscle soreness! [DOMS]), so I err on the heavier side of repetitions.
Ahhh, yes. The ever popular plank. This is a great, full-body hold, and I especially like it for overall ab toning and muscle building. The best advice I heard recently regarding planks is to think of pulling your arms and toes together - this really engages those sexy ab muscles. Try it for yourself! Start with 3 holds of 30 seconds each, and work your way up to 60-90 seconds. This is an easy exercise to do each morning right when you roll out of bed.
1.5. Side Plank
This variation of the standard plank can be done with a number of modifications. Feel free to stack your feet like I do for more of a challenge, but also, don't be afraid to put a knee down or split your feet until you build up some strength. Holding this will really engage those obliques! Try to hold for the same times as you did for your standard plank.
I know, so many people hate on the crunch. I, for one, just LOVE a standard crunch. The key here is to make sure you're not just pulling on your neck as you lift and crunch, but instead to think of lifting your forehead straight up to the ceiling, only engaging and lifting with those strong abdominal muscles you have! Leave the head and neck out of it, and focus on those abs. Start with 3 sets of 25, and work up to 3 sets of 50 crunches. It seems like a large number, but you'll gain strength in no time with consistency.
- Butt Lifts
I find that these really make you focus on those lower ab muscles that plague a lot of people. Think "mind in the muscle" when doing this, and focus on lifting your butt off the floor by activating those lower abdominal muscles. Try 3 sets of 25, and go from there!
These babies are one of my favorite ab moves of all time, and for good reason. When you use full range of motion and go nice and slow, they really work all of the muscles up and down your core. I find the slower the better, so don't rush through even though they might be difficult! Keeping your shoulders off the ground, think of bringing opposite shoulder to opposite knee. One full rotation through each side counts as 1. Try 3 sets of 15 if you are a beginner, and 3 sets of 25 if you are a little stronger.
So, that's it! A few simple, do anywhere abdominal moves that will help you get ready for summer. Remember, abs are created in the gym (or in your living room), and revealed in the kitchen. Don't let your hard work go to waste with a bad diet! Check out my post on Green Smoothies for an easy, quick, super-duper healthy meal or snack.