Everyone wants that impossibly toned six pack. That’s just one benefit of a good abdominal workout. A stronger core will protect your back from injuries and discomfort, improve your posture and work wonders for your running, cycling and swimming form. The core muscle groups truly support the rest of your body–when they are strong everything else is stronger too.
Here is a great ab workout that will strengthen your back and core. Try to do it three times a week (no more, no less) for a perfectly toned midsection. Give yourself about an hour to complete these, without rushing yourself. You should try to do at least two repetitions of each.
Pedal the Bike
Lie on your back and bring your hands behind your head. Bend your knees at about a 90 degree angle and pull one knee to your chest while extending the other just above the floor. Touch your knee with the opposite elbow as it comes to your chest. Alternate as though you are pedaling a bike. This is great for your oblique abdominal muscles. Do as many as you can until it begins to hurt and then do ten or twenty more.
Lay on an exercise mat and hold your legs together. Lift them slowly until they are perpendicular with the floor, creating a 90 degree angle. Slowly lower them back to the floor, but don’t let them touch. Repeat until it begins to hurt and then do ten or twenty more if you can.
Be a Baller
Invest in an exercise ball–if you haven’t already. This is an excellent tool for working your core muscles. Sit on your exercise ball and roll down until your lower back and hips are resting on the ball. Bend your knees at a 90 degree angle and use your feet for support. Slowly raise your head into a moderate crunch, keeping your back in a straight line (don’t slump). Work up to three repetitions of 20 or more.
This is similar to the leg lift, but instead of raising and lowering your legs, keep them extended in the air at a 90 degree angle with the floor. With your hands under your tail bone, pull your navel into the floor as you lift your torso a few inches into the air. Do three sets of 20 or so, working up into higher repetitions.
Position yourself on all fours, with your hands and knees hip and shoulder-width apart. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed as you lift opposite arm and leg until they are parallel with the ground. Hold for about ten seconds and slowly lower. Alternate sides in three sets of 20. Remember to stay balanced and keep your abs engaged the whole time.
Lay on your left side with your left arm extended on the floor in front of you for support and your right arm resting behind your head. Keep your body straight and your ankles together as you slowly lift your head and feet into the air simultaneously. This creates a side crunch that targets hard to reach muscles in your core. Do two or three sets of 20 and then repeat on your right side.