If you’re looking to turn your mid-section flab into washboard abs, you don’t have to go the traditional route of doing endless amounts of crunches. Like most exercises, doing the same thing over and over allows your body to get used to it and thus not benefit as much as it could if you just switched things up a bit. Core work comes in many forms. Give these crunch-free exercises a try and say, “so long” to to midsection scrunching.
Hula Hoop: Yes, it’s time to dig out your old childhood toy and have a little fun while with your workout. No one said ab work has to be boring, but crunches have just caused you to feel that way. Wiggle your waist, raise your arms, and you’ll be feeling the belly burn in no time. If you have problems keeping the hoop around your middle, be sure you’re moving your body in the same direction as the hoop and step up your pace a bit. Speed can make the hoop stay steady.
Squat and Hold: You might think of squats as being just for your lower half, but it can actually do wonders for your core. That’s because squats require you to balance as you lower and lift the weight–even if it’s just your body weight. Add in a 10-second hold in the bottom position, and your core works even more. To start, stand with your feet hip distance apart with your toes just slightly angled out. You can do this without weights (called an “air squat”) or with a kettlebell or dumbbell held at chest height, or with a barbell across on your upper back. Sit back into the squat as if you were going to sit on a chair. As you do so, lower your butt and thighs so that they are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for ten seconds before returning to the starting position. Do three sets of ten reps.
Stability Ball Toe Touches: If you’re using a stability ball while you work, great! You’re already in the no-crunch zone. If a standard chair is your choice, try a stability ball in your exercise routine. Seated on a ball and feeling balanced, straighten your legs so that they make a narrow V-shape. Extend your arms straight out to your sides with your palms facing down. Moving from your core, reach the back of your right hand to the outside of your left foot and turn your head to face your raised left hand. Rise and return to middle then repeat on opposite side. Try one set of ten reps per side.
Boat Pose: While so many yoga poses put the belly to work, boat pose takes it to the deep end. Start flat on your back with your arms at your side (ah…if only that’s where it stayed) . With the tailbone grounded and your legs straightened, lift your legs so that the are at about a 45-degree angle. Then lift your upper body so that along with your legs, your body makes a V-shape. Be sure not to round out your back, but instead try to keep length throughout your back and throughout your legs. Hold for three breaths then lower to the floor. Go for five rounds, adding an extra breath to the round when you can.
You can make your abs look pretty awesome with exercise, but to get the true six-pack effect, don’t forget about food. If you’ve been an ab-aholic for year doing endless sets of sit ups and general core work, your muscles might just be hiding under a cozy layer of fat. If you’ve got some calories to spare, cut a bit and see it gives your mid-section the makeover you were wanting.
What is your favorite core exercise?