Summer has started and you still haven’t lost your love handles? Fear not. Martica Heaner shares the following shortcuts to get your abs in shape just in time for bikini season.
Switch to Pilates
Instead of wasting your time doing crunches, do Pilates instead. Pilates or more specifically, Pilates 100s has been found to work more muscles overall than basic crunches. It specifically targets the muscles around the waist and the external obliques.
To do the Pilates 100s, lie down on a mat and form a V with your body; your upper and lower body extending upwards, while your bottom is serves as the bottom of the V. Extend your arms past your knees until they are almost parallel to the floor. Pump your arms up and down 100 times. Inhale and exhale every five counts.
Workout with a stability ball
According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, women performed their ab exercises with a stability ball under their glutes had the added benefit of using both their abs and back muscles which are key to looking tall and willowy. However, if you you’re not doing crunches now, do not start doing them on a stability ball.
According to Stuart McGill, Ph.D., author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, doing this can damage your spinal disks. Do crossover crunches instead. Get into standard crunch position. Bring one shoulder towards opposite knee, and then hold for 2-3 counts. Switch to the other side. Start with 5-10 reps on each side then move on to 10 counts and 20 reps. Do this move 3 times a week, then advance to the stability ball.
Arch you back
When you lie on your back with your knees bent, keep your back’s natural curve. According to McGill, by maintaining your back normal curve, you let your abs work without straining your spine. Rather than sucking in your tummy to the floor, "brace" your abs as if you were about to be punched in the stomach. Keep the tension and arch while all throughout your routine.
Work your abs like your work your biceps: add more weights instead of adding reps. To make your abs tight faster, try placing a 3- or 5- pound weight behind your head or on your chest. Do a set of 8-15 sit-ups, moving up to more sets as you get stronger.
According to Rodney Corn of the National Academy of Sports Medicine, doing 10 slow reps will help you achieve the body you want faster, instead of 20 fast ones. Corn says this is because moving slowly allows you take use more accurate form which can stimulate the muscles better and make them stronger.
Lift weights one at time
Exercising off balance gives your core muscles a workout. Exercising on an unstable or standing on one leg can cause your core to "kick in a little harder." Likewise, working off balance can cause the ab and back muscles to work a little harder.
Cardio exercises are probably the last thing on your mind when you want to get slimmer abs. But according to Len Kravitz, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at the University of New Mexico, 30 minutes of cardio exercise is more effective that 30 minutes of crunches in burning off the fat around your tummy. This is because cardio burns 10-12 calories per minute, whereas ab exercises burn only about 2-6 calories.
Source: MSN Health; Marie Claire