I don’t do sit-ups. I don’t like crunches. How boring, right?
Let’s face it: We all know that no amount of sit-ups or crunches will give you that sculpted midsection you’re after. A six-pack is the result of a clean diet, low body fat and hard training. While old-fashioned crunches are what I consider a good “finisher” at the end of your core training, poor form often results in not much else than a sore neck.
Instead, work your core with dynamic stabilizing moves. By engaging more muscle groups to balance and move, you can burn more calories and build a stable center, which is exactly what you need to be stronger in everything you do.
Throughout all of the following exercises, always think of being as long and lengthened as possible. I always tell my clients that you must train your body the way you want it to grow. Want to be long and lean? Stretch a little further with each rep.
Exercise 1: Twisting Leg Raises
Lying on your back and extending your arms to your sides, lift your legs toward the ceiling with a comfortable bend. Keeping them squeezed together, lower them as low as you can to the right for two counts down, then raise them up for two counts.
Exhaling as you return to center, actively pull your belly button into your lower back. Drop to the left side and repeat. Make sure to keep your upper body planted on the floor as you twist. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps per side.
Exercise 2: Side Plank
Planks are challenging to begin with, and doing them on your side means only two points of contact with the floor, creating even more fun and wobbles ahead.
Plant your hand directly under your shoulder while keeping your body in a straight line and reach to the sky with your top hand as you lift your hips off the ground. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Go for three to five sets.
Exercise 3: Reach for It
Time to amp up that side plank: Extend your top arm overhead as you extend the top leg. Feel a slight arch through the side of the body as you extend long and balance.
Once you have it, pull the knee up as you pull the elbow in with a deep exhale. Extend all the way back out overhead and repeat for 15 to 20 reps per side.
Exercise 4: Thread the Needle
Staying in your high side plank, reach the top arm to the sky again. Keeping the hips in position, thread the arm through and under the body reaching for the wall behind you as you exhale and contract your center. Extend back to the top and repeat for 15 to 20 reps per side.
Exercise 5: Drop It Low
Take our side plank down to the elbow. Once off the ground, place your top hand behind your head, keeping your elbow wide.
Twist and drop your top elbow all the way to the bottom hand as you exhale, returning to the starting position. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps per side.
Exercise 6: Pike Variations
One of my all time favorites! Using a medium-size exercise ball placed mid-shin, find a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders.
Keeping your legs straight, lift the hips to the sky as you exhale while pulling your waistband in. Once at the top of the pike, hold for two to three seconds, then return to starting position.