You want a slim, trim and firm belly, but you don't want to look like a body builder. Ab exercises with weights might be just the workout you are looking for. You don't have to worry about getting a bulging six-pack by doing ab exercises. Your abs grow stronger and firmer when you exercise, just like all of the other muscles in your body. Adding the extra resistance of a free weight increases the effectiveness of your ab workout to help you get more firming and strengthening action during your workout. Use dumbbells, a medicine ball, a free weight disk or a container of water.
Trim up those lateral abs on each side of your waist by doing lateral bends with free weights. If you don't have dumbbells, just fill a couple of empty milk or juice jugs with some water. One gallon of water weights a little more than 8 pounds. Start with light-weight 4-pound dumbbells or about 1/2 gallon of water. Stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold the dumbbells of water jugs in each hand with your arms extended toward the floor. Bend to the right and then back up straight. Bend to the right and then straighten up. Do eight to 10 repetitions.
Free Weight Crunches
You have to do them, those ab-strengthening crunches. Add an extra dimension to your ab workout routine by doing some crunches with free weights. Grab a couple of dumbbells, a free weight disk or 1/2 gallon of water the next time you get on the floor to crunch your abs. Start with a light weight, such as 2- to 5-pound dumbbells or a 5-pound weight disk. Hold the weights 1 to 2 inches above your chest when you lie on the floor on your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Lift your shoulders and head off the floor using your abdominal muscles. Hold for a couple of seconds and then relax. Don't let the weight rest on your chest. The extra weight on your chest will make it more difficult for you to breathe.
Let's do the ab twist! Get some weights or water jugs and twist your torso to strengthen and firm your belly and waist. This exercise works your upper and lower abs and your obliques. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, and hold some weights in each hand. Bend your knees slightly. Hold the weights in front of your belly with your elbows bent. Keep your elbows tight against your sides. Twist your torso to the right and then back. Twist to the left and then back. Allow your hands holding the weights to follow your torso twist. Try to keep your hips straight and twist from your waist. Do eight to 10 repetitions in each direction.
Ab Leg Lifts
Stretch and crunch your abs by doing some abdominal leg lifts with hand weights. Grab two dumbbells or a medicine ball if you don't have dumbbells. Lie flat on your back with your legs stretched out. Stretch your arms back above your head with your palms up while holding the weights. Squeeze your abs tight, and simultaneously lift your right leg and right arm toward each other over your body and lift your upper body off the floor using your ab muscles. Lower your right arm and leg and then repeat on your left side. Try to do eight repetitions on each side.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.