To strengthen your stomach muscles, try kicking up your heels -- literally -- by performing standing pike kicks. The pike kick is a double-duty exercise that tones your abs while providing a fat-burning cardio workout at the same time. A good abdominal workout should feature more than one stomach-strengthening exercise, but the pike kick is definitely worth a place in almost anyone’s routine.
Standing Pike Kick
Stand erect with your feet close together and your arms extended vertically, straight over your head. If you wish, hold a volleyball or a similar object in your hands to provide a target for your kicks.
Exhale as you simultaneously kick one leg up and bring both arms down. Keep your kicking leg straight, but flex the knee of your planted leg and pull your abs in as your leg rises. Lean your head and shoulders forward as your arms travel downward; you may flex your elbows slightly. Your hands -- or the ball -- should meet your foot in front of your middle to upper chest, with your leg traveling beyond parallel with the floor.
Inhale as you return your arms and leg to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the opposite leg to complete one repetition. Perform two or three sets of 20 reps, or work up to that level.
Stability Ball Pike Kick
Balance yourself with your hands on the floor and your feet on top of a stability ball. Your torso and legs should form a flattened, upside-down V-shape with your hips at the point of the V. Extend your arms straight down from your shoulders. Extend your legs but flex them slightly at the knees.
Raise one foot as high as you can, bending your knee as necessary. Tilt your head down and raise your hips as you kick your foot upward. This is your starting position.
Exhale as you kick the raised leg down and beneath your body. If you kick your left leg, for example, you’ll bring it down and to the right. Rotate your body so the inside of your opposite leg is on top of the ball and you’re facing in the direction that you’re kicking.
Inhale as you bring your leg back up to the starting position. Do eight to 10 repetitions with each leg.
- Warm up and perform some dynamic stretches before you attempt this exercise to avoid straining your muscles.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.