When the sun is shining, there is nothing better than sneaking away for a few minutes for your workout. Compared to the confines of the gym, you’ll almost forget that you're exercising. While walking and jogging are easy to translate into outdoor exercises, getting an ab workout may not seem quite so simple.
When you glance in the mirror, there is nothing like having a flat stomach staring back at you. There is a little more to chiseling out a trim abdomen than crunches. Your core is composed of several muscle groups including your rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, erector spinae and obliques. These muscles connect with your pelvis, hips and glutes to move your arms and legs. Working them evenly will make you faster, stronger and more stable.
Lying Core Exercises
When you head outdoors, you don’t want to lug a bag of barbells with you. Instead, head to a local park or even your own backyard and find a soft plot of grass. You can get a ripped stomach without lifting a single weight with just a few moves such as bridges, crunches, bicycles, supermans, bird dogs, planks and pushups. To do the bird dog, begin on all fours with a flat back. Slowly raise your right arm and left leg and hold for five to 10 seconds. Lower and repeat on the opposite side.
Standing Core Exercises
If you’re out for your workout in a white shirt or if the grass is damp, you don’t always want to be lying on the ground. A few traditional strength-training moves help you hit all of your core muscles plus your hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps, all while staying upright. These moves include single-leg squats, single-leg reaches, posterior reaches and band rotations. To do the posterior reach, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands across your chest. With your core engaged tightly, press your hips forward, slightly bend your knees and slowly lean back as far as you can without losing your balance. You should bend from your hips and keep your hands crossed in front of your chest throughout the move. You should feel your abdominal muscles stretching; stop if you feel any pain in your lower back.
Enjoy all of that sunshine and feel like a kid again with bounding, hopping and jumping exercises. These moves, officially called plyometrics, strengthen your core while also making you a faster, stronger athlete. Some of these moves are best done with a partner, so grab a friend and head outdoors. A few plyometric moves that target your core include vertical jumps, or high knees, seated twist throws, standing twist throws, shoulder tap pushups and lateral jumps.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.