Top Exercises for Abs
Part of our “Bootcamp for Brides” series.
If you’ve been following along with the back and shoulder exercises that Susan Hart, Tier 4 Trainer at Equinox, has been giving us for your wedding day physique, your abdominals should be pretty cooked at this point. “Between the plank-to-push-up, renegade rows, side planks, and pull ups, the muscles in your stomach should be ‘turned on’ and working hard to stabilize your hips and pelvis during every repetition,” Hart explains.
And she’s not done with you yet. It’s time to get you a flatter stomach with these top exercises for abs.
EXERCISE 1: Stability Ball Tuck and Pike
- Start in a high push-up position with your feet resting on top of a medium-sized stability ball. (Just holding this position might be enough of a challenge!)
- Using your ab muscles, draw your knees in toward your chest, bringing the stability ball along with you.
- Carefully re-extend your legs back out and return to the starting high push-up position. You should feel the stability ball on the laces of your sneakers or ankles. If that was challenging enough, repeat knee tucks as many times as you can until you reach failure.
- Make note of how many you get, and try and beat that the next time you complete this workout.
- Want to make it harder? Add a pike. In other words, instead of bending your knees to draw the ball in toward your chest, keep your legs straight and pike your hips up toward the ceiling. You’re trying to bring your hips up over your shoulders. At the top of this exercise, only your toes should have contact with the ball. Slowly re-extend your legs back out to starting position. Repeat until failure.
EXERCISE 2: High Knees
- Start by slowly jogging in place. When ready, increase your speed and draw your knees up toward your chest while keeping your spine straight.
- Pump your arms to help generate momentum. You’re running in place with an emphasis on using your abdominals to draw your knees up in toward your chest.
- Work up to one-minute intervals.
- Whatever you do, do not start to flex your spine or round it forward in order to get your knees closer to your chest. Once this starts to happen, take a break.
Why Both These Exercises Work
Your stability ball tuck and pike are dynamic movements working a lot of different muscles. Most importantly, every muscle in your core needs to be “turned on” and working to help stabilize your entire body weight as you bring your hips up over your shoulders (as in Exercise 1) or your knees in and out (as in Exercise 2). You’ll feel it at around rep number four or five. The high knees is a metabolic core exercise. Here, “metabolic” refers to higher heart rate for higher caloric expenditure. It’s when you combine more resistance-based exercises with metabolic exercises that you’ll start to see the best results. You’re creating lean body mass when working muscles till extreme fatigue or failure, but you might not be able to see them (the tone and definition) until you work in the metabolic exercises.
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