Puns, they’re wholesome American fun!
As I’ve said before, people overwork their abs, thinking that excessive ab workouts will give them a six-pack. This is unequivocally false. The only thing that will ever get you a six-pack is some hard ass work in the kitchen, not the gym. Be prepared to trek down a long, bleak road of chicken and broccoli if that is your goal.
However, I’ve never said it’s a bad thing to work your core every now and then. Having strong abs can help you get stronger in all your other muscles, as they will support and stabilize you during your workouts. I fully support you in working out your abs once or twice a week, and so I’ve compiled some of my favorite (read: most brutal) ab exercises. All you’ll need is a medicine ball, a yoga mat if you want something comfy to lay on, and some chutzpah. I carefully avoided any exercises that had “sexy,” “VS model,” or “flab-busting” in the name. Not that you don’t look sexy during your workout; you totally do. And yes, I can see you.
Exercise 1: Boat Pose Crunches
This exercise is based on the yoga pose called “boat,” which is where you balance on your sit bones and keep your trunk and your legs in the air. It is the very reason that many a soccer mom has dropped out of yoga class. (No shade. Hi, soccer moms!)
Basically, you’re going to start in some semblance of boat pose. The small of your back should be touching the ground, and your butt should be firmly planted, but everything else should be tensed and lifted. Bring your knees in to your chest, reaching past your toes, then release back to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15.
Exercise 2: Toe touches
Lie on your back with your legs straight up above you and your feet in the air. Holding a medicine ball that is a comfortable weight (I don’t go above five pounds normally), straighten your arms and touch the medicine ball to your toes. Do 3 sets of 12.
Exercise 3: Leg Lifts
Laying flat on your back and keeping your legs straight, lift both legs into the air while keeping the rest of your body pressed firmly into the mat. (Don’t arch that back!) Lower them down slowly and with control. Do 3 sets of 10.
Exercise 4: Russian Twists
Grab your handy dandy medicine ball again. Sit so that your torso is leaning back, not arching your back. Your feet can be either aloft or, if that’s a bit too challenging, they can be planted on the ground. Holding your medicine ball firmly, touch the ground on your left side, then switch and touch on your right side. Do fifty of these (so 25 on each side).
Exercise 5: Plank
You all know what a plank is. Just remember: don’t let your butt sag down, and don’t let it rise up! Sometimes I put a foam roller underneath my pelvis while I plank. If my body touches the foam roller, I know I need to woman up. Plank for as long as you can manage. Work toward one minute, and when you reach that, work toward two!