With summer just around the corner, now is the time to start sculpting those killer abs. Waiting until your pedicured feet have hit the sidewalk in sandals when the weather is nice is too late, those slick and sculptured abs take time to pop out from under a layer of winter sins, so you are going to need at least 6 weeks to kick start those washboard abs. Here are 6 moves you are going to need to do three times a week to get the results you need.
1. Toe Taps
This is one of those hardcore Pilates abs exercises that make you think you are doing nothing, but when you wake up 2 days later, you flirt slightly with the thought of calling somebody to help you get out of bed. Ab work outs are all about form and less about range (how far you can stretch or go), and much less about the reps.
You can do sit ups until you are blue in the face, but if you are not doing it properly, you might as well be on the couch with a Cosmo. Lie on your back with your knees up in a table top position (right angles) Make sure you pull your belly button in and connect your core, bringing your ribs down to meet your hips. Slowly extend one pointed toe out as far as you can go without popping out of your range, touch your toe to the floor and slowly return to table top position. Repeat with the other leg – this is one rep. You need to do between 5 and 25 reps in one workout. This works the lower glutes and obliques in a big way.
2. Reverse Crunches
This is an ideal move for women as this is the one move that concentrates on the lower abs – which any woman knows is where all our diet and lack of exercise sins reside – in the lower belly. Try and get your reps up to 25 per set. You may feel like you need the paramedics to get you off the mat after 5 at first, but hang in there, you will get the abs you want. Lie on your back, place your hands next to you on the floor and concentrate on moving your hips and not placing any strain on your neck. Ridiculous? Not so much; check out your neck after 3 reps and you might be surprised.
Raise your legs into the air and lift your butt up as far as you can off the floor using your hips, legs and abs. Try not to hit the floor with a slam but lower yourself gently. You can use your arms on the mat but you will need to at first, and get into a gentle rolling motion as you pike into the air.
3. Leg Climbers
Some people find this move really easy, while others think some of us must be completely mad and never really get half way up, but try at least. Lie on your back with your legs bent and lift one leg up as straight as you can. Using your hands, you are going to climb up your leg, lifting your torso off the floor until you reach the bottom of your foot, without bending your leg or moving it at all. Climb up at least 5 times on one leg, change sides and repeat on the other side as well. Get up to 25 reps on each side when you can.
Touted as the desperate prayer by many Pilates ladies, there is no secret as to why. Lie on your front on your mat and prop yourself on your elbows. Extend your legs out and prop the rest of your body up on your toes, so that you are horizontal to the floor. The idea is to get your entire body in line with your shoulders, which may seem impossible as first – but it’s not supposed to be easy.
Lower your buttocks and pelvis as much as you can, keeping that core connected and focused the entire time. If it starts to burn (everything) and you can’t take it (no shame in it) lift your pelvis slightly so you don’t feel like you are having an out of body experience. Lower it again after a few seconds into the plank position. Aim to hold the desperate prayer for 30 seconds at first – time it, but the ultimate place you want to get to is 60 seconds. This works your entire body, shoulders, core, glutes – the whole shebang.
5. Side Plank
Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow, connecting your core and pulling your shoulder in tight to the body. Extend your legs out straight, with your feet stacked up on top of each other. Slowly lift yourself up using your abs and slowly your body again. If you feel like you are going to fall over, rather bend your lower leg underneath you – balance is a good excuse if you feel like your core is on fire and might not make 3 reps. Push yourself to 5 reps each side and focus on that bikini bod you want to push you through.
6. Standing Abs
Finally a move that sounds like it is something that speaks your language – standing abs – a novel move compared to the planks, planks and more planks. Stand hip width apart with your arms raised and out at your sides at shoulder height. Keep your core tight and lift your (straight) leg up to reach your opposite hand, touch your toe and return back to your standing position. Repeat on the other side. It doesn’t matter if you don’t manage to get the range or bend your leg – just keep moving, you will start noticing the difference before you know it.