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The Best Ab Exercises

Release: Quads with Foam Roller

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Use the foam roller to help release tightness in your quads.
Lie facedown with your quads centered across a foam roller and balance on your forearms. Move back and forth on the roller [shown], keeping your knees off it, until you find the most tender spot. Hold (you don't need to keep rolling) for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it's no longer uncomfortable.

Release: Upper Back with Foam Roller

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Sit with your knees bent, feet flat, and place your hands behind your head. Lean back onto the foam roller so it's at the bottom of your shoulder blades [shown]. Keeping your elbows wide, lift your hips slightly and move slowly back and forth over the roller, keeping it under your upper back. If you hit a tender spot, stay there and breathe deeply until you feel it relax. Do this for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Stretch: Child's Pose

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Do these next two moves on a mat or soft surface. Stretch your back and hips to improve your range of motion. Tight lats and hip flexors sometimes take over for a weak core.
Kneel on all fours with your legs close together and the tops of your feet on the ground, then sit back onto your heels, reaching your arms in front of you and lowering your chest to your legs [shown]. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Stretch: Hip Flexor

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Kneel on right knee with left foot in front of you, knee aligned over ankle. Place hands on left knee, squeeze right side of glutes, and tuck tailbone under [shown]. Slide hips forward slightly. Don't arch your back. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes; switch sides and repeat.

Stabilize: Plank on Ball

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Use the stability ball to work your core with these two moves. Engage your abs to stabilize, then move your spine, which is their main job.

Kneel in front of a stability ball and place forearms on top of it, hands in soft fists. Step feet back (the wider they are, the easier the move) and keep your body straight from head to heels [shown]. Hold for up to 60 seconds, squeezing both your abs and your glutes tight.

Stabilize: Long-Lever Crunch

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Lie faceup with your back centered on a stability ball, knees bent and feet hip-width apart; squeeze your butt so your hips are even with your torso. Extend your arms alongside your head, thumbs interlocked and palms facing up [A]. With your butt contracted, crunch up as far as you can [B]. (This is a small movement, so don't worry if you're not rising very high.) Lower arms and repeat. Do 10 to 20 reps.

Stabilize and Move: Moving Plank

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These two moves teach your abs to stabilize your torso while the rest of your body moves. It takes coordination and will help you avoid injury.

Get on the ground on your hands, slightly wider than shoulders, and knees. Tighten your abs so your body is straight from head to knees [A]. Lower your chest toward the ground [B], then press up and repeat. Do 12 reps.

Stabilize and Move: Tube Chop

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Anchor the center of a resistance tube to a high object and hold a handle in each hand. Stand parallel to anchor point, left side closest to it, with feet slightly wider than shoulders. Extend arms over to the left at shoulder height. Keeping torso tight, pivot on left foot as you draw hands down to the right [shown]. Try to keep the same bend in your arms throughout and move your upper body as one unit. Return to starting position and repeat. Do 12 reps; switch sides to complete set.


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