10 Moves for a Flat Stomach
According to a San Diego State University study, the bicycle is one of the most effective abs exercises you can do, and this weighted version will have your rectus abdominus working overtime.
How to do it: Start lying on your back with both knees bent. Extend your arms overhead, bending your left arm behind your head and holding onto your right arm, just above your elbow, with your left hand. Bend your right knee and press your right foot on the inside of your extended left leg (left leg should be off the floor and low). Lift your right shoulder off the floor and turn it in towards your left leg, while you lift both legs up about 45 degrees. Lower back to start position, that’s one rep. Perform 15 reps on each side.
Bonus tip: Exhale as you perform the movement, and think of drawing your belly button in deeper to your spine on the hardest part of the move.
Open Knee Tucks
This move targets the lower portion of the abdominal wall (AKA the dreaded ‘pooch’ area).
How to do it: Start lying on your back, bend your knees into your chest, point your toes together, and open knees out to the sides, keeping toes touching. Extend both arms overhead on either side of your ears, palms facing up. Lift your hips off the floor and bring your knees up towards your armpits. Slowly lower your hips back down to start position.
Bonus tip: Think of engaging your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use to stop the flow of urine) while you lift your hips off the floor. Repeat 20 times total.
This move not only works your waistline, it also adds a cardio kick to your training to help you burn up more calories and slim down your abs.
How to do it: Start kneeling on your hands and knees, and then extend both legs straight behind you into a full plank position. Keeping your shoulders over your hands, pike your hips in the air as you jump both feet in towards your hands, bending your knees as you land on just the balls of your feet. Jump both feet back out to starting plank position. That’s one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
Bonus tip: The faster you go, the harder you’ll work. Pick up your pace (without losing your form) for a bigger calorie blast. (For an even better calorie burn, repeat this move again at the end of the circuit).
Plank Attitude Back and Side
Target your obliques as well as your hips and thighs with this exercise!
How to do it: Start in a full plank and then lower your knees to the floor gently, keeping your weight in your hands and resting the tops of your feet on the floor. Extend your right leg out straight behind you at about hip level. Bend your right knee and bring it up towards your right shoulder, looking over your right shoulders as the leg comes in. Extend it back out behind you. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 time on each side.
Bonus tip: The further away from your hands your knees are, the more challenging this move gets.
Slightly changing the angle of your arms and legs can make a huge difference in the intensity of your abs work. Try this ‘X’ shaped move to feel the extra burn!
How to do it: Start lying on your back with your arms and legs extended straight up to the ceiling, head resting on the floor. Open your arms and legs into an ‘X’ shape, bringing the legs just above the floor, and your arms back by your ears. Next, bring legs and arms back together, lifting your head off the floor, looking toward your legs, pressing your arms just outside of hips (but not touching the floor), and lifting your hips off the ground as your legs come in toward your head. That’s one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
Bonus tip: Think about exhaling and drawing your belly in tighter as you lift your head and hips up to help control your movement and not use momentum.
Side Plank with Knee Circle
This total-body move really zeros in on your core muscles, which not only include your abs, but also your back, hip flexors, and inner thighs.
How to do it: Start lying on your right side and bend your right elbow underneath your shoulder to prop up your body, reaching your left arm straight up to the ceiling. Bend your right knee and keep your left leg extended, with your foot flat on the floor. Press your hips off the ground and lift your right knee off the floor and bring the inside of your right foot to the left inner thigh. Next, turn your right knee up toward the ceiling (keeping your foot still pressed on inner thigh), tracing a ‘circle’ with your knee. Make 10 circles with your right knee, and then switch to the other side and repeat with your left.
Bonus tip: This move is tough, so if you need to, just work on holding your side plank position with your knee off the floor first and then build up to tracing the circles.
Seated Leg U's
Who knew tracing a letter could be so difficult? You’ll feel your entire abdominal wall working during this abs exercise.
How to do it: Start seated, facing your bent knees. Place both hands on the floor just behind your hips, and lean back to pick both feet up off the floor, keeping knees bent. Next, lean further back, bending your elbows to the floor and extend your legs further away from your body, while tracing a letter ‘U’ with your bent knees. Try to lean back so that your elbows touch the floor at the bottom of your ‘U’, and then sit up as you finish it. That’s one rep. Repeat 20 times total.
Bonus tip: Focus on bracing your abs in to help support your back during this move. If you start to feel any strain your lower back, don’t recline as far back.
This quick cardio burst helps work your waistline while burning up some body fat at the same time.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet together and your hands clasped. Bring both hands up to your right shoulder, bending elbows. Next, jump your feet apart and squat back into your hips as you chop your hands down to the outside of your left hip. Jump feet back together and bring hands back to right shoulder. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times on one side, and 10 times on the other.
Bonus tip: The higher you jump during this move, the more intense this move gets. Add as much height as you can to boost your calorie-burning potential.
Cross Chop to Knee
This exercise is also a balance challenge, which means you’ll engage your abs as well as the stabilizing muscles in your ankles, legs, and glutes.
How to do it: Stand on your right leg with your left leg extended out to your side, toe tapped on the floor. Clasp your hands together, bend your elbows, and bring both hands just above your right shoulder. Bend your left knee and raise it up and across toward your right shoulder as you ‘chop’ both clasped hands down to your left hip. Return to start position. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times on one leg, 10 times on the other.
1-Arm Full Sit Ups
This functional move targets your abs in a way that you use them every day--but sitting up was never so tough!
How to do it: Start lying on your back with your right knee bent, foot flat on the floor, and left leg extended straight out on the floor. Extend your right arm to the ceiling and reach your left arm toward your left foot. Sit all the way up, rolling through your back, keeping your right foot on the floor, and your right arm up over your shoulder and your left arm reaching in front of you all the way up. Slowly roll back down to the floor. That’s one rep. Repeat 15 times on one side, 15 times on the other.
Bonus tip: Hold a 3-5 pound dumbbell in your top hand to add even more of a challenge to this move.
Try this workout and more with SHAPE’s Pink Power: Flat Abs 5 Ways DVD, available now (a portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer research).