Daily Archives: December 10, 2010

Fitness Friday: Fun Ab Exercises

Welcome to another edition of Fitness Friday!

I’m not sure about you guys, but I reeeeally dislike doing ab work. I don’t have the personal motivation to stick it through a long plank. I don’t like taking a break during my heart-pumping workout to lay down on a mat. I justify skipping ab work all the time because I’m “bracing my core” during all my other exercises.

Truth is, yes, we work our core in almost every exercise we do. But that alone is not enough. Core strength is imperative to everyday movement. A weak core can lead to a slew of pains and injuries in your back. I’m the kind of trainer who will tell you crunches are lame, but that doesn’t mean we should skip out on the core work all together.

The following are a list of some of my favourite core exercises. They’re the few that motivate me enough to focus on my tummy. And when done properly, it hurts to laugh the next day. The true sign of a good ab workout ;)

 

Diagonal Woodchop

woodchop2

Start holding a medicine ball or dumbbell (5-15 lbs). Come down into a partial squat, bring the weight to one side like you’re picking something up. The straighten up and push the weight above your head on the other side. Really exaggerate the movements to get the full benefit of the exercise.

 

Sit Up on Ball

exercise_ball_abs

Sit on the edge of the ball with your feet planted on the ground. Let your spine fall over the ball, and pull yourself up using your abs. Try not to let the ball roll underneath you. As this gets easier, you can hold a plate or medicine ball at your chest or above the head.

 

Reverse Crunch

ab-exercises-20

Lay on the floor with your arms to your sides. Bring your feet above your body, with a slight bend to the knee. Using your abs, lift your hips toward the sky. Try not to tense up your neck and shoulders and don’t use force to get your hips up. As this gets easier, you can try doing it on a decline bench.

 

Prone Jackknife

 

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With your feet on top of a ball and hands under your shoulders, roll your feet in toward your chest. Try to keep your hips down and control with your abs.

 

Ball Pike

 

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A step up from the prone jackknife. Start in the same position, but bring your hips up in the air and toes on the ball. This one is hardcore!

 

 Russian Twist

russian-twist

Take a seat with your feet on the floor and slight bend to the knee. Keeping your back straight, lean back bringing your torso to about 45 degrees. Hold your arms straight out in front of your chest (better with a weight like a dumbbell or ball) and twist your torso side to side. Try not to move your arms too much and keep the twist solely in your core. Make it harder by lifting your feet off the floor and/or sitting on the round part of a bosu ball.

 

Boat Pose

 

wm-el-boat

When I don’t feel like doing a plank, I do a boat pose to get my isometric core work in. Take on a similar position to the Russian twist, leaning back with a straight torso and slightly behind your sit bones. To begin, keep your knees at 90 degrees and shins parallel to the floor. Once you master that, bring your legs straight out like in the picture. Want to make it even harder? Get out that bosu ball!

 

Hanging Leg Raises

wm-0807-hang-str-leg-raise

One of the hardest ones, but amazing once you master it! You can usually find horizontal bars on the cable machines at the gym. For a beginner, start by bending your knees toward your chest. Straighten your legs once you have that down, stopping once they’re parallel to the floor. Once you have that mastered, you can bring them all the way up like in the picture!

 

As always, there are tons more ab exercises to do. This is just a handy list of the ones I find to be:
1) effective
2) fun!

Just don’t watch any funny movies after ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite ab exercise?

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