No matter what your preferred form of working out, core exercises are crucial for balance, stability, and performance–not to mention flatter tummy. But if you’ve been relying on crunches or its myriad variations, try these moves that are free of neck pain and work more muscles. Classic crunches target the relatively smaller area in the center of your body (rectus abdominis or your “six pack”). By contrast these moves work muscles all the way from your hips to shoulders, and around the back and sides, giving you that toned look from all angles. Plus, take it from me–they’re super fun! 😀
1. Basic Plank
Hold your basic plank position for 1 minute before starting the variations.
2. Plank Variation I – Pedaling out
From plank position, pedal out your feet for 1 minute.
3. Plank Variation II – Side stepping
From plank position, step your right foot out to the side. Bring back to center; step your left foot out to the side. Repeat for 30 seconds–and then do double time for another 30 seconds.
4. Plank Variation III – Hip Raise
From plank position, “wrap” your core muscles and raise your hips up toward the ceiling while keeping your arms and feet still. Lower hips back to plank. Do 16 reps.
5. Plank Variation IV – Alternating Arm and Leg Raise
From plank position, raise your right arm and left leg simultaneously while keeping your body stable. Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you are able. Switch sides.
6. Donkey Kick
Squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, and put your palms on the ground, knees lightly bent and hips tilted up. Wrap your core muscles and spring off your feet, kicking both your legs behind you. Return to prep position. Do 10 reps.
7. Mini Frog Jumps
Begin in a crouching position on your palms and the balls of your feet (center). Engage your core and hop just your feet to the right and front, as much in line with your hands as possible. Hop back to center, then hop your feet to the left and front; return to center. This is one rep–do 10 reps. Your hands should remain in the same spot the whole time.
Also see: Ballet Upper Body Routine
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling