When thinking about strengthening your abs, you should also think about working your other core muscles as well. The term core refers to the muscles in your middle back, lower back, abdomen and hip region. The rectus abdominis (or six-pack) is most talked about but all parts of the core should be focused on because the core serves as a stabilizer for complex movement. Strong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a golf club to getting a glass down from the top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
Here is a quick core circuit you can do anywhere. Do each move for 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds then repeat the circuit.
- Crunches -- lie on the mat with your knees bent, lower back on the mat, bring your shoulder blades up off the mat with your head remaining in line with your spine then come back down to the mat
- Bridges -- stay in the beginning crunch position, bring your hips up to make a diagonal line from your knees to your shoulders, shoulder blades stay on the mat. Hold for 2 counts then bring hips back down and repeat.
- Reverse Crunch -- extend both legs straight up, back remaining on the mat, use your abs to push your feet towards the ceiling causing your hips to come off the mat. Don't swing!
- Bicycles -- do a crunch then twist to bring your elbow to the opposite knee, alternate sides
- Vertical Toe Touches -- extend both legs straight up, bring your shoulder blades up off the mat and with straight arms reach toward your toes
- Russian Twist -- sit on the mat, knees bent, lean back about 45 degrees, touch both hands to the mat beside your ribs then twist to bring your hands to the other side
- Plank with Leg Lift -- lie on the mat on your forearms (with your elbows directly under your shoulders) and up on your toes creating a straight line from your head to your feet. Alternate lifting your legs up.
- Superman -- lie on your stomach, bring your legs and arms up off the mat, hold for 2 counts then bring back down to the mat