Do you love ab workouts? I don’t! Abs are probably my least favorite area to workout. (The favorite? Hands down, the seat). Soo all this ab avoidance is starting to really stare me down in the face, now that bikini season is here! I’m all about ‘Come as you are’ mentality when it comes to the beach, but it still makes me feel good to give just a hint more attention to the core.
To tone the midsection, I’ve found that following approach works really well:
1) Drink a lot more water. This should feel natural and easy in hot weather.
2) Eat lighter, with more raw, fresh vegetables and salads. Also pretty intuitive in summer!
3) Increase cardio intensity. I always incorporate more sprints and HIIT to my runs during summer in order to target my midsection.
In addition to 1-3, I mix in more ab toning exercises. The key with a great ab workout is *control*. You can do a 30-minute ab section filled with high-powered moves and be covered in sweat; that might give you a great cardio benefit, but not necessarily the tightening and toning in your midsection unless you use controlled movements. Each time you do these exercises, visualize compressing and flattening your abdominal muscles in order to create movement. It shouldn’t have to look like a lot of crazy movement in order to tighten your abs effectively.
Lie down on your back and extend the legs straight toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor, feet flexed. Flatten your navel into the spine and exhale as you *slowly* send your legs over your head, parallel to the floor, feet pointed. Your back peels off the floor with control, using your core muscles rather than momentum of your legs. Slowly lower back to position 1. Repeat for 15-20 reps.
Start by sitting on your left hip, your right knee bent and right foot flat on the floor, and left hand on the floor.
Press yourself onto your left palm as you straighten both legs and lift and arch your hip toward the ceiling. Reach with your right hand.
With control, slowly thread your top under your shoulder. Reverse the steps and return to position 1. Repeat for 10-15 reps on this side, and switch sides.
Boat pulse variations
Begin from lying down on your back, arms overhead and legs zipped together and extended straight. Reach your arms forward and up as you raise your legs to come into boat position. Flatten out your abs (visualize creating a bowl shape with your lower abs). From here, pulse your upper body 1-2 inches, hinging from the navel, for 30 seconds. Hold the upper body still, and pulse your legs 1-2 inches up and down, for 30 seconds.
Keep holding the boat position with a slightly rounded spine, and criss cross your legs for 30 seconds to finish.
Side plank crunch
Come into side plank on your left forearm, your left foot in front of your right foot. Bring your right hand behind the head, elbow wide. Exhale as you draw your abs in to pull your left knee forward and up; twist your top elbow to meet the knee. Stay here for 30 seconds as you make small 1-2 inch twists from your navel to draw the knee toward the elbow. Switch sides.
Standing Knee Circle
From standing, hold your core in tightly as you draw in your right knee high toward your chest. Make small circles with your knee as you continually contract your lower abs and obliques, and draw your tailbone slightly down and forward. After 30 seconds, switch sides.
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More ab workouts: Yoga for Flat Abs
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling