It doesn’t matter if you are just starting an exercise program for the first time or you have been working out for years, there is one thing on every woman’s wish list: a toned and flat stomach. A toned and well defined mid-section is achievable but it is going to take a lot of work and some sacrifices not only at the gym but also with your diet. Here are a few of my six-pack abs tips along with a great and easy abs workout that you can do 3-4 days a week.
- Burn More Fat: You might be surprised to know that most women actually have strong, defined abs. The problem is that most women’s abs are covered up by a layer of fat. Most women think that doing thousands of crunches everyday will help them achieve strong abs and this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Your abdominal muscles are involved in balance and keeping your core stabilized so you use these muscles in hundreds of daily movements and exercises all of the time. Especially, if you are a mom running around chasing after kids or picking up your little ones often. What most women don’t realize is that all of the crunches in the world will not burn the fat on top of your abdominal muscles. That is why it is so important to burn more fat by increasing your cardio and reduce your daily caloric intake.
- Set a Realistic Goal: I’m sure we all have seen the pictures of fitness models with six-pack abs and super-lean physiques. Please keep in mind that when you look at these images, almost of all of these women have been on extreme diets and intense training schedules to achieve these results. You probably would be surprised to know too, that many of these women do not keep six-pack abs year-round, but rather diet-down or train intensely before photoshoots. For a woman to have visible abdominal definition, her body fat percentage has to be pretty low—around 14 percent body fat. A healthy body fat range for women is around 21%-24%. It is also important to point out that women are genetically predisposed to store more fat around the belly and need minimum levels of body fat to be healthy and menstruate. Keeping all of this in mind, set a realistic and attainable goal for yourself. Most women would be really happy to lose a few pounds and have a flatter mid-section.
- Focus on Form: I see women all of the time who can do hundreds of abdominal exercises and never even break a sweat. The problem with this is that almost all of them are using incorrect form and really are not getting the benefits that they think they are out of all of these exercises. Your abdominal muscles are just like any of your other major muscle groups and should be treated similar. You should really focus on form and engaging your abdominal muscles throughout each exercise. For most abdominal exercises this includes having your lower back pressed firmly towards the floor, your abs should be squeezed tight throughout the entire exercise and you should be breathing. Also remember that a few slow and contracted movements are more effective than hundreds of fast incorrect movements.
Flat-Abs Workout: Ab Clap: (1) To begin, lie on your back with both your legs and hands outstretched in front of you with your heels facing the ceiling and your arms together with palms touching one another. (2) Simultaneously open arms and legs. Make a wide “V” with legs and stretch arms all the way out to both sides. Return to starting formation. This is one rep. (3) Repeat 10 reps 3x. Modification: For added challenge, add ankle weights.Side Plank Super Crunch: (1) Get into forearm side crunch with your elbow directly underneath your shoulder. Rest your top hand behind your head with elbow pointing to ceiling. (2) Bring your top leg in with a bended knee pointing toward your top elbow. When bringing your knee in toward your elbow, keep your hips raised and your abs in tight. (3) Return top leg to starting position and repeat. Plank Jack: (1) Place your hands on the floor directly beneath shoulders in push up plank position. Your body should be in a straight, diagonal line from your head to toes. Do not let your stomach sag or arch. (2) Jump your feet out to the sides, and then back to center like a jumping jack. Repeat this move for 60 seconds. Modification: Instead of jumping, step alternating legs out to the side and then back in. Scissor Kick:(1) Lie on your back with legs straight, arms at your side. (2) Lift legs to a comfortable position. Your back should still be firmly on the mat. If it arches, lift higher. (3)Take your legs out to a wide “V” and then in, crossing one foot over the other. Repeat the move, alternating the top foot for every cross. (4) For added difficulty, lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor. Modification: If you are experiencing back pain you can raise your legs higher and/or place your hands underneath you, between your lower back and your tush. Rocking Plank: (1) Start in push up plank position.(2) Move forward slowly, rising higher on your toes and driving your shoulders and head forward, pushing past the distance of your hands. (3) Slowly move back to start position so your shoulders are aligned with your hands again and the weight is evenly distributed between feet and hands. Weighted Leg Circles: (1) Place ankle weights on both ankles. (2) Lie on your right side and prop yourself up with your right arm, shoulder directly over your elbow. Stack your legs on top of each other. (3) Lift your left leg and draw large forward circles with your weights for 30 seconds. Switch sides and perform exercise on other leg for another 30 seconds. Modification: Ditch the ankle weights. Reverse Crunch: (1) Lie with your back on the floor and with your palms facing down. Bend your knees in towards your chest. (2) Raise your hips off the floor and crunch your knees inward. Reach towards the ceiling with your toes. (3) Pause, then slowly lower your legs and roll your back down until you are back in the starting position. Use your core muscles to lift; avoid rocking back and forth. (4) Repeat this as many times as you can in 60 seconds. Modification: Place your hands under your tush for support, and decrease your range of motion. Forearm Plank:(1) Lie face down on floor resting on your forearms. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, contracting your abdominal muscles while you hold your body in a straight line from head to toe. Don’t let your butt sag or stick up in the air. Hold in this position for 60 seconds. Modification: Drop your knees to the floor a few times during the 60 seconds. Pilates Sit Up: (1) Lie down, chest up, on your mat. Extend your legs with your toes pointing up and extend your arms straight back past your head. (2) Keeping your arms straight, lift them over your head so they are even with your shoulders. (3) Raise your head, shoulders and upper body toward the ceiling. Keep your body in as much of a straight line as you can. Avoid arching your back. Lead with your chest, not your head. Your upper body should move as a unit. (4) Your arms should remain straight in front of your shoulders as you sit up to a 90 degree angle. Pause at the top seated position. (5) Slowly lower back down, curling your back towards the floor, taking it vertebrae by vertebrae. Once your back is flat, return your arms to the floor behind your head. That is one repetition. (6) Do as many sit ups as you can in 60 seconds without losing the proper form. Knee Strikes:(1) Begin in a low lunge position, right leg in front, arms extended over your head. Keep the weight in the heel of the front foot to ensure proper positioning. Your front leg will stay-put during the entire exercise. (2) Pull your arms in towards your waist while you are bringing your back knee forward towards your chest. You will continue to move your back leg and your arms forward and back at a very quick pace for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, switch sides and repeat for 30 seconds. Modification: Lower the height of the leg raise. Plank Knee Twisters: (1.) Start in push up plank position. (2) Drive your right knee forward under your body to get as close to your left shoulder as possible while keeping proper form. Do not raise your butt higher than your torso to bring your knee in farther. Let your form determine your distance. (3) Return right foot back to starting position and repeat movement with left leg.
Knee Tap Plank: (1) Start in forearm plank position (2) Only bending from the knees, drop your knees to the floor, then return back to forearm plank position. Repeat.
Side Push Up: (1) Lie down on your side with your bottom arm wrapped around your core. Your top arm should be placed with your hand flat on the floor and your elbow at a 90-degree angle at your chest. (2) Push through your top hand to lift your shoulders and torso off the ground, and then lower back down. (3) Complete as many reps on this side as you can and then switch to your opposite side.
Side Crunch: (1) Start by lying on the floor face up with your knees together and bent at a 90-degree angle. Without moving your upper body, lower your knees to the right side so that they’re touching the floor. Place your fingers behind your head. (2) Raise your shoulders toward your hips, pause for one second, and then take two seconds to lower your upper body back to the starting position. (3) Perform this move for 30 seconds and then switch your legs to the other side for an additional 30 seconds.
Flutter Kick: (1) Lie on a mat with your legs fully extended. (2) Raise your legs to a 45-degree angle, hovering over your mat. Keep abs tight and raise your shoulders off the mat. (3) Extend your arms down towards the side, palms facing down. (4) Kick legs in a quick up and down motion for 60 seconds. Modification: Lie completely on your back, placing your hands beneath your butt for added back support. Lift your legs higher to make the move easier.
Ab Roll Up: (1) To begin, lie on your back with arms at your sides and palms facing down. Lift your butt and lower back up in the air so that the bottoms of your feet are facing the ceiling. (2) In one fluid motion, lower your back and legs and transition to your feet while jumping in the air as high as you can with arms extended straight overhead. That is one rep. Do as many as you can within 60 seconds.
Arm Extension Plank: (1) Start in push up plank position. (2) Lift your right arm out to the right side, keeping your arm parallel with the floor. Hold for a few breaths, then return to start position. (3) Repeat with left arm. Continue alternating sides each rep.
Wall Sit: (1) Lean your back against a wall, making sure that your whole back is touching the wall. Your feet should be about two feet from the wall and about shoulder-width apart from each other. (2) Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Aim for a 90-degree angle. (3) Keep your weight in the heels of your feet and make sure your knees are behind your toes. You should be able to tap your toes. (4) Keep your back flat against the wall. If it starts to arch, slide up until the small of your back is touching the wall again. (5) Lift right leg for 30 seconds, then switch and lift left leg for 30 seconds. Modification: Aim for a 45-degree angle to start, but keep the same posture: back flat against wall, weight in your heels and knees above your ankles rather than over your toes.
Hip Twister Plank: (1) Get into forearm plank position. (2) Keeping your abs in tight and your shoulders above your elbows, rotate your torso as you drop your left hip to the ground. (3) In a controlled motion, rotate your torso to the opposite side, dropping your right hip to the floor. (4) In between rotations, stop in the middle to get control of your balance if necessary.