Of all of the body parts people are self-conscious about, many, if asked, would point to their stomachs as their biggest hurdle. Our bellies retain fat faster and longer than we’d like and we often talk about weight loss in terms of how many inches we have lost around our waist. Adding abdominal exercises to your workout routine is simple because they can be done at home, but it’s important to know where to start. Here are a few great abdominal exercises, besides the usual crunches and sit-ups we all know and dread, that can be added to any routine:
Standing Side-Crunch- Stand straight with your legs together with one arm at your side and the other bent upward, elbow at shoulder height and hand behind your head. Starting with your right arm up, turn your right foot out so that your inner thigh faces forward and lift your (left) knee up to about waist height, crunching your abdomen sideways and bringing your elbow and knee together. Do 15 reps and repeat with other side.
Side Plank- Lie on your side, holding yourself up with your elbow, your feet on top of one another and your body straight. Bend your other arm and put your hand on your hip. Then, lift your hip off of the floor so that you are supporting yourself only by your forearm and feet, making sure to keep your body straight and brace your abdominals. Hold for 5 seconds and then put your hip back down. Do 10 Reps and repeat on other side. If this is too challanging, keep your knees on the ground. To intensify this exercise, try bringing up your top foot as you raise your body.
Plank Pike- Begin in plank position with your body straight. Without bending your back, lift your hips up toward the ceiling making a bridge-shape with your body, hold for a second, and then lower so that your body is straight once more. Take special care to keep abdominals engaged to protect your lower back. Repeat 10 times.
U-Boat- Sit on the ground with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Lean back on your elbows with your back straight abdominals engaged. With your knees together, use your abdominals and life your legs off the floor so that your knees are at a 90- degree angle. Starting at the left, move both legs in a U-shape, dipping your feet toward the floor and then back up to the right, never actually touching the floor. Repeat 20 times (10 each direction).
These four exercises are great ways to work out your abdominal muscles without doing classic crunches. Take care of your body, add some protein to burn, and keep your joints healthy during your work out by mixing Gym and Tonic into your pre- or post-work out drink! Also, since three of these exercises require working from the ground, make sure you are using a comfortable surface to avoid hurting elbows, knees, and hands. Have that comfortable surface anywhere with Tonic’s cork yoga mat.