Hint: It's not all sit-ups and crunches!
Sit-ups, crunches, sit-ups, crunches, sit-ups, crunches. So many sit-ups and crunches! While these ab-strengthening exercises work well and never fail to bring that burn, they are not the only advocates for your dream six pack. Below are four exercises that help you step out of the box and really work all angles of your abs.
Think of high knees as a standing, quick version of the sit-up. Instead of bringing your chest up to your knees, however, you bring your knees up to your chest. This running-in-place motion will give your metabolism a head start for the day and simultaneously engage your core. The lower belly is a big stressor for a lot of women. High knees focus mainly on the lower core muscles to lift your knees up. Do not forget to keep your feet light and land on the balls of your feet — this will preserve your knees and prevent any jarring injuries. Being conscious of your landing will also make you contract your abs even further.
This explosive exercise is a sure-fire way to ignite your core. The power behind your swings sources from your hips and core muscles. While your hips have to thrust forward to raise the weight, your core has to stabilize the upward and downward swinging. Remember not to swing the kettlebell any higher than eye level as this will detract from your abs and hips and actually make the exercise easier as you will accrue more momentum for the way down and engage your arms to help stabilize the weight.
Yes, the classic pushup. Always a favorite for the ladies. I say this facetiously, but I also want you to think with me for one second. Many women love the plank exercise as it engages the whole core, lengthens your tummy, and improves your posture. Well, the pushup is just a moving version of the plank! You can do this one! In order to push yourself up, you must engage your core along with your chest muscles. Make sure to keep your back straight as you blast out those reps. Any arching or curving will take the pressure from your core and place it in your back, which will lead to injuries and, sadly, no six pack.
Squats rely on the core much more than you would think. You may notice when you go down for the squat that your upper body hinges down with you. Fight that urge. Especially if you are holding up any weight. Instead, keep your back as vertically straight as you can. This will ignite your core, making the exercise much harder and challenging you to stabilize and balance more than ever.