When you exercise your abdominal muscles, you're not doing it to have rock-hard abs hidden under a layer of fat. Some muscle-strengthening exercises are just that—muscles-strengthening—but they will not help you to lose weight. These ab exercises are designed to hit the core and help you lose body fat all at once, so you can have your cake and eat it too.
This is an excellent way to warm up your muscles and ease them into an exercise routine. This exercise starts off easy and gets increasingly difficult, preparing your abdominal muscles for what is to come. Lie face up on your mat, legs stretched out in front of you, arms by your sides. Engaging your core muscles, slowly raise your legs until they are at a 90-degree angle, perpendicular to the ground. Raise your arms up to a 30-degree angle, and pump them up and down quickly, counting 20 pumps. After you reach 20, lower your legs by 10-15 degrees and repeat for another 20 pumps. Repeat three more times for a total of 100 pumps, each time lowering your legs by 10-15 degrees. For the last 20 pumps, your legs will be at a 30-degree angle with the ground.
This exercise is perfect for ab toning because it engages all the core muscles including the rectus abdominis, lower back, obliques, and transversus abdominis muscles. In other words, say bye-bye to muffin top. To do a bicycle crunch, lie face-up on your mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Place hands behind your head, lifting your head. Raise your legs up to a 45-degree angle and bring your left knee to your chest. At the same time, twist, bringing your right elbow to your left knee. Switch sides and repeat the motion with your right knee and left elbow. This is one rep. Do three sets of 20 reps.
This intense core-strengthening exercise will engage all the core muscles and get your heart pumping. When you're in a seated position on your mat, plant your feet on the ground, knees bent so that your feet are about a foot from your butt. Lean slightly back, keeping your back straight and place your arms in front of you, one hand on top of the other. Engage your core and slowly twist to the left. Then inhale and twist to the right. This is one rep. Do 15 reps.
This challenging yoga pose engages all the muscles in your lower body as it tests your balance, stamina, and strength. The boat pose strengthens the abdominal and the deep hip flexor muscles. Sit on the mat with your feet on the floor, legs bent. Engage your core and, keeping your back straight, raise your legs until your calves are parallel with the floor. If this is a comfortable position for you, begin to straighten your legs and stretch out your arms in front of you. Hold for 5-15 breaths, and repeat five times.
This is a great lower ab workout for strengthening and toning—and of course, fat-blasting. Once you've mastered this exercise, you know you're well on your way to washboard abs. Lie on the mat face-up and stretch your legs out in front of you. As you engage your core, raise your legs up, slightly bent at the knees, to a 60-degree angle. Stretch your arms out to your sides (as if you were doing a snow angel). Inhale and slowly move your knees to the right, exhale, and return to starting position. Repeat on the left side. That's one rep. Do eight reps.
Donkey kickbacks engage the gluteus muscles, the lower back muscles, and the abdominal muscles. This exercise forces you to focus on balance and stability which improve your athletic capabilities. Position yourself on all fours on the mat with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Keeping your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor and stretch the leg out. At the same time, lift the left arm straight out ahead of you. Hold for a few seconds and bring your leg and arm back down. Repeat 15 times, then switch to the other side.
This exercise move is a hybrid between a plank and a pushup, and it gets you moving—so you know it ought to be good. From a standing position, bend forward at the waist and place your hands on the floor. Crawl forward until you are in a plank position with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Do one pushup. Then, bend your left knee and bring it to your chest. Straighten out your left leg and repeat with the right leg. This is one rep. Do ten reps.
This oldie but goodie should never be overlooked. It is the ultimate test of strength and endurance, it engages all muscles, and it is simple. The trick is to keep a straight back; no sinking hips, no rounding of the spine. Lie face down on your mat. Place your forearms flat on the mat, elbows directly under your shoulders. Get up on your toes and, engaging your core, hold the pose for 20 seconds. Rest. Repeat three times. Each week, increase the time of the pose until you can hold it for one minute (or more!).
This challenging variation of the plank also requires an absolutely straight body in a test of strength and stamina—only you're targeting your obliques. Lie on your left side and place your left forearm flat on the floor. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line and engage your abs. When you feel stable, lift your right arm straight up in the air. Hold for 20 seconds—or longer if you can—increasing the time each week until you can hold for one minute. Repeat on the right side.
Your abs will not be the only muscles thanking you for this exercise. You'll definitely feel this one in the glutes as well. Start off lying face-up on the mat with your feet planted firmly on the floor, knees bent, hands by your sides. As you engage your core and your glutes, lift your hips off the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for 3-5 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat ten times, take a 10-second break and then repeat another ten times.
These fat-burning ab exercises will whip you into shape—fast. If you complete these exercises three times a week, you'll feel stronger and more energetic—and you'll look great too. Pull out that exercise mat and get to it!
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