We don’t need to think about brushing our teeth every morning. We just do it because it’s part of our routine. The purpose of doing an ab challenge is not only to jumpstart your body into the best shape it can possibly be but also to help you incorporate exercises into your daily routine without thinking twice about it. These 4 core strengthening moves are challenging enough to sculpt your abs and simple enough to remember to do every morning before you leave the house. The reps on day 10 are the goal for every day after. When done back to back at a steady pace, the entire routine should not take more than 5 minutes. It may seem hard at first, but with a slight increase in reps and time every few days, you will find yourself getting stronger with practice.
1. Criss Cross– Lie on your back with your knees at a table top position. Curl your head neck and shoulders off the floor with your hands behind your head. Keep your elbows wide open as you twist one elbow to the outside of the opposite knee. Straighten the other leg out at the same time making sure to squeeze the glute of the straight leg. Switch to the other side. Your goal is to get your elbow to the outside of the opposite knee using your abs to curl your torso up not by pulling your knees in closer. Keep a slow and steady pace so that there is no momentum. You want to feel each twisting motion originating from your abdominals, not your arms and legs. I suggest inhaling for two twists and then exhaling for another two.
2. Single Leg Plank– Get into a plank position on the ground with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Pull your abdominals in without letting your hips rise. Lift one leg up to hip height and pull that knee into your chest using your abs and then extend the leg back out. Use your obliques to pull that same knee into your side trying to touch the knee to your elbow. Straighten the leg back out and repeat.
3. Scoop– Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. If you have tights hips or hamstrings, soften your knees so that you can sit up over your hips. Place the palm of your hands on the ground next to your upper thighs. Drop your head, round your spine by scooping in your abs and press into the ground with your hands to straighten the arms. If you scoop your abs in deep enough to pull your lower belly up into your spine, your butt and hips should lift slightly off the ground. This will be very difficult if your hands are too close to your hips or if you are not rounding your back enough. This is an ab exercise, so the more you can suck your abdominals in and round up, the higher you will lift off the ground with your core. Once your hips are lifted, use your abs to lift one leg an inch off the ground and then repeat on the other leg. This is very challenging, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to lift off the ground in the first few days. As you connect more to your deep ab muscles through all of the other exercises, you will get strong enough to perform this move more successfully.
4. Teasers– This is a variation of the Pilates teaser move. Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left, roll onto your right hip, and keep yourself propped up on your right forearm. Make sure your right rib cage is lifted using your obliques and lats on the right side to hold yourself up. Allow your left arm to straighten over your head without lifting the shoulder. Engage your abs and inner thighs to roll up into a V position on your tailbone using your right arm on the ground for light support. Your top arm sweeps down and up in front of you to reach for your toes as you sit up. Hold for 2-3 seconds before reversing the movement to come back down on your side. At the end of each set, lift the supporting arm off the ground to hold a full Pilates Teaser position before coming back down.
The Ab Challenge
Days 1,2 & 3: Criss Cross-10 to each side
Single Leg Plank- 3 to each side
Scoop- 1 Scoop and 1 leg lift each side
Teasers- 3 to each side with hold at end
Days 4, 5 & 6: Criss Cross- 15 to each side
Single Leg Plank- 6 to each side
Scoop- 1 Scoop and 2 leg lifts each side
Teasers- 4 to each side with hold at end
Days 7, 8 & 9: Criss Cross- 20 to each side
Single Leg Plank- 8 to each side
Scoop- 1 Scoop and 3 leg lifts to each side
Teasers- 5 to each side with hold at end
Day 10: Criss Cross- 25 to each side
Single Leg Plank- 10 to each side
Scoop- 2 Scoops and 3 leg lifts to each side
Teasers- 6 to each side with hold at end
Challenge yourself to practice these ab exercises every morning, and strengthening your core will become as easy as brushing your teeth!
Also by Crystal: 4 Best Thigh Slimming Pilates Exercises
How I Learned to Breathe after I Stopped Dancing
Related: Yoga for Flat Abs
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Video: Crystal Chin; Song: “Moments in Love” by Art of Noise