Sure, you want to lose weight fast, not only to look your best, but also to feel your best. But it’s not enough to simply lose weight: after all, thin but flabby isn’t anyone’s dream goal. You’ve heard it before and you know it’s true; the best way to lose weight is a combination of healthy eating and moderate exercise. Strong muscles not only give you tone and definition, they also burn more calories than fat does, even when you’re sitting still.
If you’re like most women, however, toning up your legs and arms isn’t nearly as challenging as firming up your abs. This team of six hard-working muscles (rectus abdominis, right and left internal and external obliques, and transverse abdominis) not only give you a bikini-baring belly, they also protect your internal organs; help you stand upright, bend and turn; and assist with breathing. With so much resting on healthy and strong abs, no diet plan or exercise regimen is complete without exercise geared towards toning up your six-pack. Here are five exercises that are especially good at working your abs, and best of all, you can do them all at home.
If you want to work all of your ab muscles at once, you can’t go wrong with the basic plank.
- From a hands-and-knees position, stretch out your legs until you are balanced on your toes. Lower your elbows to the ground with your hands stretched out straight in front of you. Your toes and your forearms should support your weight: not your wrists or hands.
- Suck your belly in and look straight ahead without straining your neck.
- Keep your back straight: watch for arching or sagging.
- Hold the pose for as long as you can. Your goal should be at least two minutes.
This oldie-but-goodie really works the obliques.
- Lie on your back with your hands folded underneath your head.
- Lift your shoulders off the floor while bringing your knees in towards your chest.
- Now “bicycle” by alternating side-to-side twists consisting of:
- Left leg straight while right knee bends back towards you and left elbow bends to touch the right knee.
- Right leg straight while left knee bends back towards you and right elbow bends to touch the left knee.
- Make sure your entire upper body is twisting towards the knee, not just your elbows.
- Do at least 10 reps.
Target your lower abs with leg lifts.
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and your hands down at your sides.
- Lift both legs up towards the ceiling, and then slowly lower them until they are just a few inches above the ground. Keep your abs tight.
- Slowly repeat the cycle for at least 10 reps.
Get your obliques in shape and have a little fun while doing it. You’ll need a large rubber stability ball for this one.
- With your knees on the floor, rest your forearms on the stability ball.
- Remain balanced while using your forearms to make large circles with the stability ball. Keep your core tight and your spine straight.
- Circle the ball clockwise at least five times then reverse direction.
- The bigger your circles, the better the workout, but don’t overdo it or you’ll lose your balance.
Another gym favorite, the bird dog works your entire core.
- Start off on your hands and knees, with wrists directly under your shoulders.
- Raise your left leg and right arm until they are fully extended, and then bring them back to the starting position.
- Repeat with your right leg and left arm.
- Be careful not to arch your spine or lift your arms and legs higher than your head. Keep your movements smooth and fluid.
- Do at least 10 reps on each side.