If you think a bare midriff is only for teens, think again. I’m 46, and I plan to wear a tankini on my next vacation. You can, too, with help from these exercises. They’ll strengthen and tone the rectus abdominis, the muscle that stretches from your ribs to your hips, and the obliques, the muscles that run down the sides of your torso.

Do two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, with a 1-minute break in between. Aim for two or three workouts a week, resting a day between sessions.

Hip Lift
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, palms facing up. Raise your legs so they are straight up toward the ceiling and perpendicular to your torso.

Pull your navel toward your spine and lift your hips a few inches off the floor, keeping your legs pointed straight up. Then slowly lower your hips back to the floor.

Torso Twist
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, about hip-width apart. Extend your arms straight in front of you, and lace your fingers. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lean back about 45 degrees toward the floor.

With your abs taut, rotate your torso toward the right as far as comfortably possible. Be sure to move your upper body (head, shoulders, arms, chest, and abs) in unison; don’t lead with your arms. You should be looking in the same direction your hands are pointing throughout the move. Hold, then return to center and twist to the opposite side. That’s one rep.

Denise Austin Denise Austin is the author of several books including Sculpt Your Body with Balls and Bands and the host of two Lifetime Television fitness programs.

Contents

The 10 Best Ways To Tighten Loose Skin After Pregnancy

So you just had your baby and you’re anxious to get your pre-pregnancy body back. But when you look in the mirror, you still see folds of skin on your belly, waist, and upper arms. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Loose skin after pregnancy is a challenge that many new moms face.

Eventually, your body will work to revitalize itself, but there are steps you can take to speed up the recovery process. To help you achieve a speedy recovery, we’ve created a guide detailing the 10 best ways to restore, rejuvenate, and tighten loose skin after pregnancy so you can get back to your pre-baby body in no time.

10 Ways To Tighten Loose Skin After Pregnancy

1) Prevent Stretch Marks While You’re Pregnant

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s certainly true when it comes to rejuvenating loose skin after pregnancy. Following the same steps that will help you prevent stretch marks during the first nine months of your pregnancy will go a long way toward keeping your skin tight after your baby is born.

We recommend a product like Mustela’s Stretch Marks Prevention Cream or Stretch Marks Prevention Oil. Both products work to nourish the skin on your hips, thighs, stomach, and bust so that your skin can naturally expand and stretch without scarring. The increased elasticity these products provide makes it much easier for the skin to regain its normal shape after your baby is born.

2) Eat Healthy To Improve Skin Elasticity

Your skin gets the nutrients it needs to maintain its elasticity from the foods you eat. Unfortunately for your skin, it’s one of the last organs to receive vitamins and minerals. If you don’t get enough nutrients, your skin will become deprived of what it needs to stay soft and resilient.

To promote elasticity and tighten loose skin after pregnancy, eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables, fats, and lean protein. The vitamins and minerals in a well-balanced diet will contribute to the flexibility and health of your skin. This flexibility can help your skin return to normal after your baby is born.

Fruits and vegetables like broccoli, strawberries, and spinach provide vitamins C and A along with other healthy nutrients and minerals. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production which gives your skin its firmness. Vitamin A acts as a humectant, drawing water to the surface where the moisture helps your skin remain supple.

Healthy fats like sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts contribute vitamin E and other antioxidants that work to eradicate toxins and free radicals. Lean protein like fish, chicken, and turkey supplies your body with vitamin D, which contributes to your skin’s ability to stretch.

3) Lose Weight Slowly

After your baby is born, you may be super excited to lose the weight you’ve gained over the past nine months. Keep in mind, though, that losing weight too quickly can make the problem of loose skin even worse.

If you shed weight too fast, you will lose both fat and muscle. Losing muscle robs your body of its ability to maintain a tight, toned shape. Less muscle also reduces your metabolism and makes it more difficult to lose weight further down the road.

To maintain muscle tone while losing weight, we suggest incorporating weight training into your exercise routine. Don’t worry, you won’t bulk up like the boys do. For women, weight training has more of a tightening effect.

Whether you do cardio, weight training, or both, aim to lose one to two pounds per week. That rate of weight loss makes for a much healthier body and is sustainable over the long term. It may not seem like much at first, but it will add up over time.

4) Treat Stretch Marks After Pregnancy

If you’ve worked to prevent stretch marks during your pregnancy, you’re well-prepared to combat loose skin postpartum. That said, you may still have to deal with small lines and skin discolorations after your baby is born.

Don’t get disheartened, though. All the work that you put into preventing stretch marks while you were pregnant will make your recovery a lot easier.

In the months after your baby is born, your hormones will change again like they did when you first got pregnant. The chemistry in your skin will change too. Because of these changes, what worked for you while you were pregnant might not work after you give birth.

That’s why you need a product like Mustela’s Stretch Marks Recovery Serum that is specially formulated to heal and restore postpartum skin. Ingredients like avocado peptides and Elastoregulator® will improve your skin’s elasticity and leave it feeling soft, supple, and comfortable.

5) Stay Hydrated

Tightening loose skin after pregnancy is all about promoting and maintaining elasticity. That elasticity depends, in large part, on staying hydrated. And the only way to stay hydrated properly is to drink at least eight cups of water every day.

In addition to keeping your skin elastic, drinking water helps your body burn calories and reduces water retention in your abdomen. All these things together can make the appearance of loose skin less noticeable.

You can also help keep your skin hydrated by applying a product like Mustela’s Soothing Moisturizing Balm. Natural ingredients like glycerin and ceramides moisturize dry skin, reinforce your skin’s elasticity, and leave skin looking and feeling younger. The hydration also contributes to your body’s natural ability to restore and tighten loose skin.

That’s why we recommend you tighten loose skin after pregnancy from both the inside and outside by drinking plenty of water and applying a moisturizing balm every day.

6) Apply A Skin-Firming Product Every Day

The firmness of your skin depends, in large part, on the underlying muscle. The muscle provides support and works to pull the skin tight. That’s why it’s so important to strengthen those muscles with exercise.

But you can also increase skin tone by working from the outside in. The best way to do this is to apply a skin-firming product like Mustela’s Body Firming Gel or Bust Firming Serum. The natural ingredients in these products work together to supercharge rejuvenation and recovery.

For example, centella asiatica increases tone and improves firmness of loose skin. Peptides promote elasticity and relieve tightness caused by stretching. Sophora japonica helps to visibly remodel body contours after childbirth.

We recommend massaging the firming gel or serum into your stomach, hips, thighs, and bust twice a day. Do this for one month to help rejuvenate and tighten loose skin after pregnancy.

7) Breastfeed Your Baby

Breastfeeding benefits both you and your baby. Breast milk is an extremely healthy source of nutrition for newborns. It helps them grow physically and mentally and keeps their immune system functioning at 100%.

Breastfeeding your little one also helps you lose weight and tighten loose skin after pregnancy. When you breastfeed, your body uses a larger portion of the calories you consume every day to make milk. As a result, your body stores fewer calories as fat and may even dip into your existing body fat to keep milk production up.

That’s great news for new moms because it means that you can lose weight faster and tighten loose skin after pregnancy just by doing what comes naturally.

8) Exfoliate Your Skin

Exfoliating is the process of removing dead cells from the surface of your skin. This promotes new skin growth, which is, by nature, healthier and tighter than old surface skin. Exfoliating also improves blood circulation to the surface layers of your skin, which increases skin regeneration and promotes elasticity. All of these benefits help to tighten loose skin after pregnancy.

You may already exfoliate your face and neck as part of your daily skincare routine. But the easiest way to exfoliate loose skin is to grab a loofah or bath brush during your shower and give a bit of extra attention to your belly and thighs.

You can also dry-brush loose skin before your shower when your skin is firmer, but be gentle or you may actually damage the skin you’re trying to heal.

9) Maintain A Healthy State Of Mind

It’s definitely frustrating when you’re trying to tighten loose skin after pregnancy and results don’t come as quickly as you’d like. But don’t give up. Stay calm and maintain a healthy state of mind. You’ll get there eventually.

Here are some tips for finding your best mental state:

  • Remind yourself to be patient — your body just went through a significant trauma
  • Practice deep breathing when you feel yourself getting frustrated
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Enjoy the outdoors as much as you can
  • Play with your baby
  • Focus on making your newborn as happy and as comfortable as possible
  • Nap when your baby naps so you don’t exhaust yourself
  • Meditate

Prioritizing your mental and emotional well-being will contribute to all of the physical work necessary to tighten loose skin after pregnancy.

10) Try Skin Wraps

If you need a quick fix for a special occasion, try a skin wrap at your local spa. Skin wraps contain ingredients like:

  • Powdered kelp
  • Sea salt
  • Clay
  • Nourishing oils
  • Algae
  • Minerals

These spa treatments also detoxify your skin and help you relax and reduce stress. But they are only temporary — they aren’t a permanent way to tighten loose skin after pregnancy.

Get Into A Routine

After your newborn arrives, the bulk of your time will be devoted to them. But you can still find a few minutes here and there for yourself. Use that time to create a skin care routine from the tips on this list to help you tighten loose skin after pregnancy.

Soon you’ll feel great and your body will be back into the shape you love.

How to tighten your core, abs during exercise (and why it’s so important)

In this week’s #QandAWed video we tackle a really valuable question, “how do I tighten my core, abs?” Since this is such an important topic, I wanted to go into more detail than we did in the video here with this post to explain a few key points further and to offer some specific workouts to try to further develop core strength.

What exactly is your “core?”

Your “core” muscles involve much more than just your abs – in fact, these spinal stabilizing muscles run from your shoulder blades, along your spine and back and include the four muscles of the abs (transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominius) as well as the major muscles in the hip.

How do I engage it?

The various cues for core engagement may vary depending on the specific movement you are doing, but in general, here are a few ways to turn on the core muscles while standing:

1) Engage your abs from the inside out by drawing your belly button in to your spine (without holding your breath or ‘sucking in’ your stomach) and focus on holding the contraction of the abdominal muscles.

2) Press your shoulder blades down and away from your ears (this helps to ‘cap’ the contraction of the abs and engages the core muscles in your back).

3) Think of ‘lifting up’ through the pelvic floor to engage the muscles in the pelvic floor and deepen the contraction of your abdominal muscles. While not necessarily a defined part of your ‘core,’ contracting the pelvic floor muscles can help you maximize your abdominal contraction, and may additionally build strength in the pelvic floor at the same time.

Test it out – standing with feet hip width and knees slightly bent, imagine standing on a unstable surface (like a rocky ship or subway train) and shift your weight quickly from one foot to the other, maintaining all of the contractions listed above (you can even place your hands on the sides of your waist to feel these muscles contracting).

Why is a strong core important?

Think of a strong core as your body’s support system – these muscles help you stand taller, move more smoothly, and potentially even lift more weight safely. By stabilizing your spine, your core muscles provide you with a strong, stable foundation for everyday activities like lifting heavy objects (like your toddler) and assist with movements that require balance and coordination (like jumping over that puddle at the last minute).

A strong core may also help boost your workout performance too, which could translate into both a better fitness level and faster results. One 2009 study done by researchers at Barry University found that 6 weeks of core training drills helped improve the performance of recreational and competitive runners.

What are some of the best ways to strengthen your core?

Targeted abs workouts can be great for engaging and strengthening the core, but don’t forget that you can also get build core strength from focusing on it during your total body workouts as well.

Aim for a mix of training that works your core in a multitude of ways, including exercises that involve challenging the core muscles to do what they are designed for — stabilize your spine. While most of our workouts here on JESSICASMITHTV involve engaging the core in some way, here are a few routines to try that really zero in on core strength.

These 3 abs-centric YouTube videos are specifically designed to help you practice deep core engagement:

#1: 15 Minute Core Concentration

#2: 12 Minute Standing Pilates for Flat Abs

#3: 15 Minute Crunchless Abs

For more options, check out our full playlist of abs videos here.

These 3 total body workouts that also challenge the core muscles while working the entire body:

#1: 30 Minute Met Con 5

#2: 35-Minute Straight Up Strength

#3: 30 Minute Kickboxing Ballet Body Sculpt

For more options, check out our full total body training playlist here.

Tell me, what workouts or exercises have helped you the most when it comes to building core strength? Share with us in the comments below!

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High-Definition Abs: Build And Tighten Your Core!

Whether you’re a guy or a girl, at the pool, at the beach or on stage, your abs are the first place people look to tell how fit you are. Abdominal muscles are the true marker, the core of fitness.

Cellucor Super HD Abs

Watch The Video – 09:31

We walk you through two ab circuits to help you achieve that toned, hi-def 6-pack. One circuit is designed to build your abs, and the other is designed to tighten your abs.

We recommend incorporating these circuit workouts 3-to-4 times per week into your existing workout routines, alternating the workouts, building first and toning second.

The Build Circuit

The goal is to keep the intensity high, elevate your heart rate elevated and really get that extra burn. Set up all four exercises before you begin to increase efficiency and intensity.

3 Rounds; Repeat 4 exercises back-to-back; 1-minute rest between rounds.

Build Circuit 1 Circuit 3 rounds 3 sets, to failure+ 1 more exercises

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  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

Tighten Circuit

This circuit will involve more reps, some drop sets, a lot of focus on toning your abs rather than building them. High reps are going to help you tighten your abs while burning calories.

This is another 4-exercise circuit with 1-minute rests between the three circuits. Make sure to set everything up first, to limit your rest periods between exercises.

3 Rounds; Repeat 4 exercises back-to-back; 1-minute rest between rounds.

Tighten Circuit 1 Circuit 3 rounds 3 sets, to failure+ 1 more exercises

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

Hi-Def Abs

Your abs are probably on fire! That’s the key to getting hi-def abs.

First comes the Build Circuit, followed by the Tightening Circuit. We recommend hitting the circuits on alternating days: Build, then Tighten … for a total of 3-to-4 workouts per week.

Make sure you have your strength training, your cardio, proper supplementation and your meal programs keyed-in to get hi-def abs. For more information on that, check the links below.

For more articles and videos, tips and tricks to achieving hi-def abs, visit Bodybuilding.com.

3 Best Exercises to Tighten Your Abs and Firm Your Core After 60

Core and abs are two words that get thrown around more than reality show drama. They are, in fact, different. Here are three things to know:

  • Exercising one does not necessarily engage the other.
  • Nothing “automatically” strengthens your core (not even sitting on a fitness ball).
  • People can be rotten to the core, and no exercise can fix that.

Let’s start with the first point.

Abs or Core, or Both

Much online clickbait (Get 6-Pack Abs Overnight!) focuses on abs because it’s the aesthetic part of the torso. It’s the part you present to the world when your shirt lifts up as you reach to stow your luggage in an overhead compartment.

The core, on the other hand, is a multi-faceted set of over 20 muscles that lies beneath the surface of the abs. The main core muscle, called the transverse abdominis (TA), wraps itself around your midsection like built-in Spanx.

The various muscles attach to your lower back (which is why a weak core contributes to back pain) and basically connect your ribcage to your upper body and your pelvis to your lower body.

Your core literally holds together your upper and lower body.

In other words, don’t leave home without it.

It not only protects your spinal column but stabilizes your entire body. It’s why it’s referred to as the “powerhouse” in Pilates. Everything relies on it.

Some pretty heavy stuff, no?

But unlike your abs, no one sees your core. People won’t come up to you and say, “Hey, your core is looking mighty fine.” (And if they do, call the police.)

Did you know your pelvic floor, the muscle you work when you do Kegels, is also part of your core? Yes, the action of contracting that muscle as if you’re trying to stop a urine flow is one of the primary core muscles exercises.

In fact, your pee-stopping muscle must be engaged to properly activate your core.

Who knew?

Automatic Fitness? Umm, No

This brings me to the fitness ball myth and other ways we think we automatically engage our core. “Oh, I’ll just sit on a fitness ball and work my core all day!”

No, you won’t.

Because here’s the thing: It takes a conscious awareness and purpose to kick in those core muscles. It’s not something that happens on its own.

Typically, you start out with all good intentions sitting up straight on the ball, using your core muscles to keep you upright.

So far so good.

After about 30 minutes this starts getting old, especially if you are doing work-related tasks or other activities that take your mind off of your oh-so-perfect posture.

As the day wears on your back gets tired. Before you know it, you’re rounding your spine and hunching over your desk like Quasimodo on his way to the bell tower.

This is nothing against fitness balls, which have tons of great uses. And it’s not totally a waste if you bought a fitness ball for this purpose. Just use it judiciously.

For example, if you like to use a ball as a chair, alternate it with a traditional, supportive chair every 20 minutes or so. And make sure you’re sitting on it with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.

The Exercises That Do It

Finally, we get to the big question: What really works, then?

Your best approach is to use a mix of ab and core exercises to keep your midsection strong and ready for what life throws at it. In the end, it’s not so important to know which exercises work the specific muscles. Just include a variety and use this KEY tip below.

Before you begin any abdominal or core exercise, engage your core muscles. The easiest way is by imagining your little grandchild is about to tickle you. That pulling in of those muscles? That’s your core.

Hold that thought and then perform the exercise.

Here are a few of the best ab and core-activating exercises, and a link to a special free PDF that demonstrates these and more in a bonus I created just for Sixty and Me readers, below.

Planks

Planks are usually safe (always check with your doc, of course) even for those with back pain because they do not involve flexion – the action involved in curling up as in a crunch.

Bird Dogs

Another type of exercise that also works well is bird dogs. They are usually safe for everyone (kneel on something soft if you have achy knees like me) and involve balance, which we all need more of as we flip those calendar pages.

Bicycle

Doing the bicycle works your upper and lower abs as well as obliques. It was rated the best overall ab exercise by the American Council On Exercise (ACE).

Do these exercises three times a week and you’re off to a good start.

to download your special BONUS, 5-Day Ab and Core Challenge.

Which core exercises do YOU like to do? Will you try a new one this week? Let’s chat!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.

There’s no getting around it: for most of you (as you’ve told us time and time again), the desire for a flat, toned stomach is real, and many exercisers crank up their tummy exercises – cue sit-ups galore – in a bid to achieve the fit-body Shangri-La.

But that plan, isn’t the most effective. Sigh. When it comes to the best stomach exercises for building a strong, stable core – the type of middle to power up the rest of your workouts and daily life – forget crunches.

“The rectus abdominis, or “six-pack” muscles, are only part of it”

You need to dig deeper, in motivation and muscle, to achieve a sculpted, flat stomach.

‘The core isn’t one muscle; it’s a relationship between a number of muscles that cover your whole trunk, connecting your hips, spine, neck and shoulders,’ says performance coach Brett Klika. ‘The rectus abdominis, or “six-pack” muscles, are only part of it.’

It means many of those super-targeted ab exercises leave much of your core out of the picture – and neglecting it can in fact slow your progress.

Obviously, it pays to look beyond the aesthetic when boosting core strength, as its crucial in the everyday health and mobility of your body. ‘Some of the strongest people in the world don’t have six-packs, but they can lift a lot or perform tremendous feats of athleticism,’ says Klika.

A strong core is a major factor in staying free from injury – particularly in the hips and knees, says Michelle Arent, director of training and conditioning at Rutgers Center for Health and Human Performance in the US.

With that in mind, let us school you in the best stomach exercises you can be doing this summer and beyond. Core strength is not just for holiday season. Fact.

So what’re you waiting for? Get exercising with our simple yet effective flat stomach workouts with and without weights.

Option one: 10 Stomach Exercises to Do as a Workout

Do: Repeat the circuit 3 to 5 rounds, dependent on desired outcome (and energy levels).

1. Commando Plank

Do: 60 seconds

a. Begin in a high plank with your core engaged and your feet hip-width apart. Hold for 30 seconds. Keep your spine neutral.

b. Keeping your core engaged, lower your left forearm on to the floor, then your right so you’re in a forearm plank. With your back flat, push through each arm to return to a high plank. Repeat for 15 seconds, finishing in a high plank. Struggling? Just think of those abs.

2. Downward Facing Dog

Do: 10-second hold

a. From a high plank, hinge at the waist to push your weight back through your heels until you arrive in a downward-facing dog: legs straight and arms outstretched in front of you, hands shoulder-width apart.

b. Hold for 10 seconds, pushing your hips back over your heels to feel the stretch in your hamstrings and the backs of your arms. Return to a high plank and repeat five times.

3. Flutter Kicks

Do: 3 20-second reps

a. Begin lying flat on your back on a mat, palms face-down underneath your glutes. Core engaged, raise both your legs in a straight line until they’re hovering above the floor.

b. Keeping your abs braced and legs straight, rapidly kick your legs – right and left alternately – up and down, stopping just above the floor each time. Make sure that your lower back doesn’t lift off the floor at any point.

4. Cross Crunch

Do: 10 reps per side

a. Lie with your left hand behind your head and your right arm outstretched at a 90° angle to your body, right palm facing down. Engaging your core, raise your right knee and crunch over to your right side until your left elbow touches your right knee.

b. Reverse the movement until you return to the start. Done your reps? Switch sides and repeat, crunching as hard as you can.

5. Russian Twist

Do: 20 reps, using a 5kg weight (or heavy books).

a. Lie on your back, knees raised and bent at 45° with feet hovering just off the floor and both hands holding the weight above your chest. Use your abs to raise your torso to a 45° angle with the floor.

b. Slowly twist your torso to the right side, keeping your arms straight and raised. Pause and then reverse the twist to repeat on the left side. That’s one rep.

6. Partial Sit-Up

Do: 40 reps

a. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet tucked under a weight (or get your PT boyfriend to stand on them), stretching your arms out in front.

b. Using your core to lift you, reach for your knees with a short, swift movement – lifting only your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor. Reverse and repeat, feeling the burn in your upper abs.

7. Swiss Ball Press-Up and Knee Tuck

Do: 20 reps

a. Begin in a high plank position with your feet placed on top of a Swiss ball. Bracing your core for stability, lower into a press-up and come back up – pausing at the top of the movement.

b. Engage your abs and keep your feet on the ball, draw your knees in towards your chest, pause and then reverse to your starting position. That’s one rep – keep going.

8. Upward Back Bend

Do: 10-second hold

a. Begin lying face- down on your mat. With palms on the floor by your shoulders, keep your elbows tucked into the sides of your body and raise your chest off the floor by pushing into the ground with both hands.

b. Drawing your navel towards your spine to protect your lower back, bend your upper body up and back as far as is comfortable – tilting your head and chest upward at the top of the movement. Hold for five breaths and release.

9. Stability Ball Pass

Do: 10 reps

a. Begin lying on your back, arms stretched out above your head, holding a Swiss ball in between your hands. Squeezing your abs, lift your upper body and raise your legs until you’re able to pass the ball from your hands to your feet at the top of the movement.

b. Squeezing either side of the ball with your feet, simultaneously lower your legs and upper body to the floor. Pause at the bottom, then reverse the move, passing the ball back to your hands.

10. Side Plank Dips

Do: 60 seconds each side

a. Lie on the floor on your left side, with your left elbow resting on the ground and right leg stacked on top of the left. Squeezing your core, thrust your right side upwards into a side plank, raising your right arm above your head.

b. Dip your left hip down to the floor, then raise it back to a side plank position. Repeat as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Now switch sides. Hurts, doesn’t it?

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Option two: 3 Tummy Exercises to Do as a Finisher

These staple exercises are the most effective and efficient way to hit your core muscles. Incorporate farmer carries and deadlifts into your strength workouts twice a week and do bird dogs every day.

1. Farmer Carry

Do: 3-4 sets of 4 reps

a. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet together and shoulders back.

b. Staying tall through the spine and keeping your core engaged, take 10 steps forward, turn around and take10 steps back. That’s one rep.

WH

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2. Deadlift

Do: 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

a. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a dumbbell in front of each foot. Hinge at the hips, keeping your back flat and neck neutral, until you can pick up the weights.

b. Drive through your heels and brace your core to stand, lifting the weights and squeezing your glutes at the top.Then slowly lower the weights back down to complete the rep.

3. Bird dog

Do: 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps

a.Get into a tabletop position on the floor on your hands and knees, tuck your bum under and engage your core. Raise your right arm until it’s next to your ear while simultaneously lifting your left leg until it’s parallel with the floor.

b. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left arm and right leg. That’s one rep. Keeping your core tight will stop you falling to one side.

WH

Now you’ve got the best stomach exercises in your arsenal it’s time to talk about the best time to workout and shop the best gym trainers.

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Alice Head Nutrition & Health Contributor Ally is a contributing food journalist with over four years digital experience, plus a freelance food stylist, having worked backstage at many a BBC Good Food Show.

Photo: Pond5

So maybe you aren’t in good enough shape to get down and give us 50 crunches. But we know you’re not looking to ignore your core either. Well here’s no small truth: A strong midsection isn’t all about six-pack abs. Every time you carry groceries, laundry, or even your kids, you’re relying on your core as a foundation of strength, explains Justin Rubin, Daily Burn’s True Beginner trainer.

“Lots of beginners have upper back tension or lower back issues,” says Rubin. “Your core is located in your posterior chain and strengthening it will help keep your chest up and your spine strong,” which can correlate to some back pain relief.

Whether you’re getting back into fitness after a lapse or you’re an exercise newbie, developing a solid core will increase your stability and balance. Translation: You’ll be able to perform more advanced moves with confidence as you regain your strength.

RELATED: Daily Burn True Beginner: Starting Over With Fitness

Ab Workout: 6 Beginner Core Exercises

If you think you need to use a fancy machine to target those inner belly muscles, think again. We asked Rubin to demonstrate six easy-to-follow core exercises for beginners, which don’t require any equipment. Follow along with the GIFs below to bring variety to your next core workout. And for more beginner-friendly workouts you can do anytime, anyplace, head to Daily Burn to try the complete True Beginner program.

1. Bird-Dog Crunch

Targets: Abs, hamstrings, glutes and shoulders
Stronger abs don’t develop overnight — you’ll have to first learn how to activate your core. For this essential True Beginner core exercise, start on the floor on all fours, hands placed directly underneath your shoulders, hips in line with your knees. This is your starting position. Lift your right hand and extend your arm straight out in on you, keeping it shoulder height, while simultaneously lifting your left leg and extending it straight back (a). Your whole body should be in a straight line from right fingertips to left toes. Bring your left leg to touch your right elbow under your stomach. Extend your leg and arm out again. Return to starting position (b). Repeat on the other side (c). Do five reps on each side.

Modification: If you’re unable to maintain form, simplify this movement by forgoing the crunch. Instead, extend your arm and opposite leg out and hold for three seconds, then switch sides.

RELATED: The Truth About How to Lose Belly Fat

2. Standing Bicycle Crunches

Targets: Obliques, rotational muscles
Do traditional crunches cause discomfort? Rubin suggests this True Beginner variation instead. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands placed behind your head. With a tight core, straight back and relaxed shoulders lift your right leg and simultaneously raise your right knee and lower your left elbow towards each other (a). Return to the starting position (b). Repeat on the opposite side. Do five reps on each side.

Modification: If rotating your upper body downwards is too difficult, simply lift your knee to your chest while keeping your upper body still, alternating legs.

RELATED: 5 Standing Ab Exercises for People Who Hate Crunches

3. Seated Leg Lifts

Targets: Abs, hamstrings
Don’t be fooled by this basic-looking leg lift: Beginners to even more advanced folks will start feeling the burn after a few reps. Sit on the floor, legs extended straight out in front of you. Keeping your core engaged, lean back slightly, so you’re able to place your hands on either side of your glutes. Take a deep breath and lift one leg six inches off the ground (a). Hold for five seconds, and then put it down. Repeat with the other leg (b). Continue alternating for one-minute straight, then take a 20 second break. Repeat for five rounds.

Modification: To make this exercise easier, lift one leg at a time without stopping to hold each one extended for five seconds. Need more of a challenge? After lifting a heel, bring your knee into your chest, then extend your heel back out and lower down. Repeat on the opposite side.

RELATED: 5 Planks, 10 Minutes: Your Ultimate Ab Workout

4. Sit-Ups

Targets: Abs, possibly hip flexors depending on range of motion
If performed incorrectly, sit-ups can cause more pain than they’re worth. Rubin breaks down how to safely and effectively perform the move. To start, sit on the floor with your knees bent, heels touching the floor, hands on either side of your head, shoulders dropped and relaxed to avoid tension in the neck. Keeping your feet on the ground, lay back until your back is flat on the floor, or as far as you’re able (a). Rise back up (b). Continue for one-minute straight, then take a 20 second break. Repeat for five rounds.

Modification: Having trouble keeping your core and back engaged? Slowly lower yourself as far as you can, and work up to lowering completely down to the floor. There’s no need to go all the way back until you can maintain perfect form, says Rubin.

RELATED: The Kickboxing Workout That’s All About Abs

5. Modified Bicycle Crunch

Targets: Obliques, rotational muscles
Start in the same neutral position as the sit-up, sitting with knees bent, heels flat on the floor, hands on either side of your head (a). Bring the right knee and left elbow towards one another, with a simple and gentle twist (b). Return to the start position (c). Complete the movement with the left knee and right elbow. Continue for one-minute straight, then take a 20 second break. Repeat for five rounds.

Modification: This is a major progression from the sit-up, so if this movement is tough for you, keep practicing sit-ups (above).

RELATED: 3 Quick HIIT Workouts for Beginners

6. Spider Plank Crunch

Targets: Lower abs, glutes
Still have fuel left in the tank? Rubin challenges True Beginners to tap into their Spidey sense. Start in a push-up position, hands on the ground directly underneath your shoulders, legs extended backwards with your toes on the ground, so your body is in a straight line. Lift your right leg and bring your knee towards the outside of your right elbow (a). Return to plank position (b). Repeat the movement with the other leg. Do five reps with each leg.

Modification: If this is too challenging, simply hold a plank on your elbows or hands for 30 seconds at a time, for three rounds. (If you have a wrist issue, Rubin recommends doing this movement on your elbows.)

To try True Beginner free for 30 days, head to dailyburn.com/truebeginner.

Note to reader: The content in this article relates to the core service offered by Daily Burn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by Daily Burn. Originally published March 2015. Updated September 2017.

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20 Easy Ab Exercises for a Sculpted Six Pack

You’ll need to do more than a few standard sit-ups in order to sculpt the six pack of your dreams. Muscle & Fitness notes that while your diet is the main factor in carving chiseled abs, you also need to regularly train them if you’re hoping for a rock-solid stomach. That means it’s time to start eating healthy and doing these 20 easy ab exercises on a regular basis.

Stick with these moves, and you’ll get the abs you’ve always wanted.

1. Pull-ups

Pull-ups are good for more than just your arms. | iStock.com

In addition to strengthening your arms and back, pull-ups are also great for sculpting your abs. Livestrong.com explains that your abs are engaged and contracted throughout the duration of a pull-up as they work to stabilize your body. Your abs should be sore after completing a set of pull-ups; if they aren’t, you might not be doing them correctly.

Men’s Fitness explains the correct way to do a pull-up: To start, grasp a pull-up bar with both hands in an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulder blades down and back, bend your legs, cross your feet, squeeze your glutes, and brace your abs. Then, pull yourself up until your collarbone reaches the bar, and drive your elbows down toward your hips. Return to the start position, and repeat. Do three sets of pull-ups, repeating the exercise until you can’t do any more, with 120-second breaks in between each set.

2. Wood choppers

If you have a medicine ball, you can bust out a series of wood choppers, no problem. The reach and twist motion focuses on strengthening and toning your entire core — and you can bet you’ll be working your arms to the point of exhaustion. Runner’s World demonstrates the move in the video above.

To begin, you’ll stand with your feet hip-width apart, and grab a medicine ball with both hands. Reach the ball up over your head and to the right. Then, twisting down, bring the medicine ball to the outside of your left knee. You should feel a significant twist in your core.

Be sure to keep your knees bent, and your eyes on the ball as you move through the motion. Additionally, if you have back issues, it’s probably best to avoid this move altogether.

3. Barbell floor wiper

A barbell is the perfect ab-sculpting tool. | iStock.com

You’ll need a barbell to complete this move, featured on Men’s Health UK. To begin, lie with your back on the floor, holding a barbell over your chest with straight arms. Keep your legs straight, raise your feet directly above you, and start lowering them toward the right side of your body. Don’t allow your legs to touch the ground. Reverse back to the start position, lower to the left, then reverse again.

If you’d like to make this move more challenging, Men’s Health shares this recommendation: As your feet get close to the floor, hold them there for an extra second or two, forcing them to hover just above the ground. This slight change really targets the lower abdominals.

4. Jack knife sit-up

Medicine balls are great for core work of any type. | iStock.com

If your go-to ab workout involves doing hundreds of crunches, it’s time to put that routine to bed. The Huffington Post notes that crunches place excessive strain on your back and don’t burn enough calories to eliminate the fat that is covering your stomach muscles, making it an inefficient way to try to get a six-pack.

Looking for a sure-fire way to get a washboard stomach? Try this Bodybuilding.com ab exercise, which requires you to use an exercise ball. To do a jack knife sit-up, sit on the floor, holding a medicine ball between your hands, with your feet out in front of you. Bend your knees slightly, and lift your feet so they’re suspended slightly off the ground. Make sure you keep your ankles together, and lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.

Hold the exercise ball out straight from your chest with your arms slightly bent. Twist your torso to one side as far as you can, and bring the ball toward the floor on the same side of your body. Pause for a moment, then twist your torso in the opposite direction, repeating the movement on your other side. Continue to repeat this movement until you reach failure.

5. Single-leg stretch

If you do it right, this stretch can also target your tummy. | iStock.com/mheim3011

As you may have guessed, the single-leg stretch doubles as a leg stretch, and an ab exercise. You’re likely familiar with this basic move, but you may have never tried it this way before. To turn your stretching routine into an exercise that also packs a punch to your gut, simply make a small change to your upper body.

Fitness says to start on your back, knees bent. Lift your head and shoulders, curling chin to chest. Grab your left knee with both hands and bring it in toward your chest. Point your right leg out straight, so it hovers just above the floor. As opposed to the standard stretch — where you keep your head and shoulders flat on the ground — you’ll also be working your abs with this version.

6. Low-belly leg reach

This exercise is easy to perform, but challenging for your abs. | iStock.com/undrey

Those lower abs sure can be a problem area, which is why we love this move. It targets that pesky muffin top you so desperately want to get rid of. To start, lie on your back with knees together and bent at 90-degree angles. Place hands behind your head with elbows out wide. Contract your abs to crunch up, holding for three to five seconds. Then, extend both legs out to 45 degrees, and hold for another three to five seconds. You should feel a burn in your lower belly. If you don’t, hold for longer, or lower your legs to right above the floor. For the best results, Health recommends two sets of 10 to 15 reps.

7. Physioball pikes

Doing an ab workout with an exercise ball is a smart idea.| iStock.com

Kick @55 Fitness delivers a killer ab move that will sculpt your stomach in no time. Start in a push-up position with your arms straight and your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Rest your shins on a physioball, otherwise referred to as an exercise ball, so your body forms a straight line from your head to your ankles.

Without bending your knees, begin to roll the ball toward your body by raising your hips as high as you can. Pause for a moment, and then lower your hips and roll the ball backward to get it back to the starting position. Repeat three to four sets of eight to 12 reps.

8. Exercise ball crunches

Ball crunches force your muscles to work harder as you maintain balance. | iStock.com

Crunches on the floor may be inefficient, but doing them on an exercise ball is an entirely different story. Verywell notes that it’s much more effective to do sit-ups on an exercise ball because it forces your abs to do all of the work. When you’re on the floor, your legs are typically more involved, meaning your stomach muscles aren’t getting as good a workout.

To do this move, AbsExperiment.com explains you should start by sitting on the exercise ball. Walk your feet out so that your lower back is on the ball. Arch your back, and stretch your ab muscles out, keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the ground. Put your hands by your head, contract your abs, and curl your upper body and hips up. Raise your torso no more than 45 degrees, fully exhaling on your way up and inhaling on the way down. Slowly return to the starting position, allowing your abs to fully stretch out. Repeat.

If you’d like to make this move harder, AbsExperiment.com suggests bringing your feet closer together, or extending your arms behind your head.

9. Hundreds

This classic Pilates move can really target your core. | iStock.com

This tough Pilates move shows no mercy. If you think it looks easy, you’ll have to try it for yourself. Women’s Health & Fitness says to lie on your back with your knees bent and lifted so your calves are parallel to the mat. Slowly curl your chest up a few inches off the floor to engage your core — don’t lead with your head, as you can strain your neck by doing so. Keeping your lower back pressed into the mat, extend your legs out in front of you, lowering them to about a 45-degree angle with your body.

You can stop here and hold this move, but that’s not what completes the sequence. When you’re in the proper position, extend arms out in front of you so they’re parallel to the ground. Then, pump your arms for 10 beats. Rest and repeat for 10 sets, or go for as many as you can.

10. Mountain climbers

Mountain climbers work just about every muscle in your body. | iStock.com

This bodyweight exercise isn’t just a workout for your abs — it’s a heart-pumping move that incorporates your arms, back, and legs, too. The Guardian explains you need to get into plank position to start mountain climbers, as they’re essentially a hybrid between a plank and a run. When you’re ready to begin, run one knee up to your chest and slightly across your body without allowing your foot to touch the ground. Return it back into plank position, and do the same with the other knee. Do this as fast as you can with control for 30 seconds to complete one set.

It’s important to remember form is everything with this move. Don’t allow your hips to float upward as you draw your knees in — this isn’t good for your back and you’ll be cheating yourself by making it easier.

11. Dynamic planks

Planks don’t have to be completely stationary. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

By now, it’s probably clear we’re highlighting exercises that are easy to perform. But while the exact motions are quite simple, these moves are seriously challenging for your abs and other core muscles. If you’re ready for the next step, it’s time to try dynamic planks. The real advantage dynamic planks have over standard ones is they involve a slow, controlled movement that forces all of your stabilizing muscles to work that much harder.

STACK outlines this move. You’ll start in a side plank resting your weight on just your left foot and left hand, your body forming a straight line from head to toe. After briefly holding the pose, rotate your body into a standard plank with both hands and both feet on the floor. Wait a moment, then turn to the other side, and continue alternating directions.

If planks on your hands are too tough to start, you can also perform these on your forearms.

12. Hanging leg raise

This move is great for lower abs. | iStock.com

If there’s one core area that’s tough to target without also hurting you back, it’s definitely your lower abs. These muscles also happen to be among the most difficult to strengthen and define, and a lot of that has to do with fat around your midsection. As Harvard Health Publications points out, abdominal exercises can strengthen the muscles, but they won’t help burn off your tummy. You’ll need to do plenty of other strength training and cardio to make that happen.

That being said, it’s still important to strengthen the lower abs because they work in tandem with all your other core muscles to minimize the risk of injury and ward off general aches and pains. Get started with hanging leg raises, outlined by Muscle & Strength. You basically hang from a bar, or gymnastics rings, with your legs fully extended, then hinge at the hips to raise your legs until they’re parallel with the floor. It’s a tough move, so start with a few, then work your way up.

13. T-bends

Start with relatively light weights, then work your way up. | iStock.com

Since we’re taking a well-rounded approach to training your abs, it’s time to talk obliques. Some of the other exercises mentioned have already utilized these muscles, which are located along your sides, but this move gives them some serious work thanks to the addition of weights. Start with something relatively light before you get too overzealous, though. It’s better to take it slow than to risk an injury.

To do this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold your arms straight out to the sides, grasping a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your lower body in place, hinge at your hips to bring your left arm slightly toward the ground and your right arm slightly toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position, then switch sides. For a great visual, head to Family Circle.

14. Dumbbell side bends

Dumbbells are a great piece of equipment to use when targeting your obliques. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Similar to the T-bends mentioned earlier, dumbbell side bends are yet another way to target those obliques. This move, in particular, is super easy — all you need is a dumbbell.

Take one dumbbell in your right hand, and stand up tall. Place your left hand on your hip, and slowly lower your right hand toward the floor, bending at your side. Maintain a flat back throughout, engaging your core. For a step-by-step tutorial, check out the video at Bodybuilding.com.

15. Supine oblique twist with exercise ball

Adding an exercise ball to this abdominal move will leave you with serious results. Grab the ball with your feet, and lie flat on your back. Place your palms face down by your sides for extra grip and stability. While fully engaging your entire core, begin to rotate the ball. Move the outside of your right foot up toward the ceiling, so the outside of your left is facing the ground. For added difficulty, continue these rotations while simultaneously moving the ball — and your legs — up and down.

16. Reverse crunches

This move will really challenge your core. | iStock.com

If you’re bored with standard crunches, this variation outlined on BuiltLean is a great option. It hits both your lower and upper abs, but it also requires a fair bit of concentration to do correctly. You’ll start lying on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs hovering above the floor. From there, contract your stomach to pull your legs in toward your chest as far as possible before reversing the motion.

The story does mention this probably isn’t the best move if you have lower back issues. For people with this common problem, it’s probably a better idea to focus on some back-friendly core exercises.

17. Heel touches

You only need a yoga mat for this move. |

Not every core exercise works your upper and lower abs and obliques, but heel touches target all these areas for that coveted six pack. Exercise.com says to start by lying down on your back with knees bent and feet on the ground. When you’re in this position, make sure to engage your lower abs by pressing them down into the floor. You don’t want any space between your back and the ground.

When you begin, keep your arms by your sides and lift your shoulders off the ground using your upper abs. Then, use your obliques to rotate your right hand down to your right heel, and lift back to center. Do this on the other side and repeat, alternating each time. We suggest shooting for 20 reps before resting, but you can also time yourself for 30 seconds.

18. Swiss ball roll-out

The rolling challenges your balance. | iStock.com

This move requires balancing on an exercise ball, which makes all of your core muscles work even harder. To perform roll-outs, Men’s Fitness says to start by resting your forearms on the exercise ball and carefully walking your legs out behind you until they’re fully extended. This should feel like you’re in plank position, only the ball makes it even tougher. Then, tighten your core and slowly roll the ball forward while extending your arms and hips. When you’ve rolled as far as you can while still keeping tension in your abs, roll back in. Try doing five of these, then see how you feel. Add more reps as you gain strength.

19. Torso twist

If you want to stay off the floor, try this exercise. | iStock.com/dolgachov

A lot of core exercises take place lying on the ground, which means you need access to a yoga mat and a fair amount of space. But that’s not always practical, particularly for people who find themselves traveling a lot. Whether you’re trying to squeeze in a quick workout at work or you’r stuck in a cramped hotel room, the torso twist is a move you can always do.

Women’s Day outlines this move, saying you’ll start standing with your feet about a foot apart and your hands placed just behind each ear, elbows pointed out to the sides. Simultaneously lift your left knee up and to the right as you bring your right elbow down to meet it, reverse the movement, then switch sides.

20. Dead bug

Thought the name is funny, this move is anything but. | iStock.com/Veles-Studio

The dead bug looks easy, and it is if you’re not engaging your core properly. The move becomes a lot more difficult when you contract your muscles while coordinating your arms and legs to move to the correct positions. And, because it does take some coordination, your motor skills will get a boost, too.

AZCentral.com says to lie down with knees bent and feet on the floor, arms by your sides, bent to form 90-degree angles. Then, tighten your core and push your back into the ground so you feel the contraction, and lift your arms and legs off the floor. Your knees should be over your hips, forming 90-degree angles, and your elbows should be aligned with your shoulders. From here, slowly lower and extend your left arm and right leg down without touching the ground, and then bring them back to the starting position with control. Do the same with your right arm and left leg. Repeat this move five to 10 times.

Additional reporting by Taryn Brooke, Lauren Weiler, Kirsten Yovino, and Christine Skopec.

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