Like most everyone else, you want killer abs but are sick of the traditional sit-up or crunch. Try core exercises, which focus on strengthening and toning the abdominal, oblique, hip and lower back muscles. The American Council on Exercise has identified exercises most effective for strengthening the core -- and none of them involve variations of the sit-up or crunch. The exercises here progress from beginner to advanced.
Stand with your shoulders square to the ground and in line with your hips. Feet should be placed firmly on the floor and your arms should be at your sides. Lift your chest and keep your chin straight and parallel with the floor.
Push all of your weight toward your heels and begin to move your body into a squat position. Keep your back straight and chin parallel. Bend your hips and knees at the same time, but watch that your knees don’t go past your toes.
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Keep lowering until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep your knees in line with your toes and maintain the position for as long as possible. Return to the start position while breathing deeply.
Stand up straight with both feet together. Keeps your arms at your sides with your shoulders in line with your hips. Slowly step forward with one foot. As your foot is in the air, pause for a moment and let the weight of your body rest on the other leg. Place your forward foot firmly on the ground.
Step into the lunge position and keep your hips square with the ground. Keep moving forward until your thigh is parallel with the floor and keep your back straight.
Push back up to the start position while you maintain your balance. Repeat with the other leg in the forward position.
Begin by lying over the ball with both your hands and feet touching the ground. The ball should be directly under your stomach. Roll forward until your hands come to a position near the ball and below your shoulders. Keep your hands flat on the floor.
Straighten your legs until your toes point toward the ground and your heels point to the wall. Inhale and exhale slowly. Your abs will attempt to rest firmly on the stability ball, but don’t let them. Pull your stomach away from the ball as you breathe out.
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Maintain your current position and balance yourself. Slowly walk yourself out until your thighs or knees, whichever feels the most comfortable, are on top of the ball. Breathe and maintain this for as long as your body will allow. Slowly roll and return to the start position while keeping your balance.
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Start with both feet together and bend your body forward until your hands are on the floor in front of you. Keep your knees and back as straight as possible. Move your hands forward slowly, inching away from the feet. You should feel your abdominal muscles working if you’re doing it correctly.
Walk your hands out until you are in the push-up position. Perform one push-up while keeping your back straight.
Slowly walk your feet up to your hands until you are back in the start position.
- Keep your abs tight and your core engaged during every move.
- Some moves are difficult, so don't get discouraged.
- Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, lightheaded or short of breath.
- Some of these moves require a certain level of flexibility. Do not over-stretch your muscles, otherwise you could end up with a strain.
Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.