Women of the world, rejoice! It is possible to flatten your tummy without a personal trainer, restrictive diets or liposuction. With life's responsibilities from work to raising kids, it can be seriously hard to make it to the gym to whittle away the belly bulge. On the bright side, if you're wishing you could bare your belly, you don't need fancy equipment or a pricey gym pass to slim down. Some of the best ab exercises target your entire core and can be done between laundry, carpool and catching up on the latest episode of your favorite TV show.
All hail the plank! It's hands-down one of the most effective ways to work not only your abs, but your entire body. Start small, since it can take time to work up to a long-lasting plank. First, start on all fours. Then, inhale and move up to your toes so that only your hands and feet are the contact points to the ground. Your entire body should be perfectly straight and your hands should be placed directly under your shoulders. If this is way too hard, drop to your knees. You can time yourself to track your progress, or try doing a plank during a TV commercial or while waiting for your pasta water to boil.
Gravity can be your best friend when trying to work your abs. Luckily, there are a tons of surfaces in your home that help you work your abs, including your couch. Target the hard-to-reach lower belly area by lying on the floor with your heels propped on a couch or chair. Inhale and then exhale as you exert your torso upward, remembering to engage your core and lift your body as high as you can before inhaling while lowering back to the ground. Try 12 to 15 reps and work up to three sets throughout the day.
Your obliques can get neglected in a world of ab exercises that only target the front of your bod. Give your sides and lower back a little love with a weighted trunk rotation. At the gym, you'd use a medicine ball. At home, a heavy book such as a dictionary can suffice. Grab the heavy item and clasp it your chest. Sit down on your bottom and either keep your feet planted with your knees at a 45-degree angle, or lift your feet off of the floor for a more difficult exercise. Inhale and then exhale as you twist your torso only to the right, then inhale as you come back to start. Repeat on the left side, continuing for 12 to 15 reps on each side.
If you find yourself lying on the floor anyway -- playing with kids or the cat -- take the time to do a few leg drops for the upper and lower ab area. Lay with your back flat on the ground and your arms tight to your sides. With your legs straight, raise them upward until they're perpendicular with the floor. Then, slowly lower your legs back to the floor, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Repeat 12 to 15 times to complete a set.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.