3 Favorite, most challenging ab exercises I love to hate

Let me guess… You clicked on this when you saw the word “ab,” found me by Googling “ab exercises” or reached over to grab your coffee and your elbow accidentally hit keys that spelled out my website name.

Whatever the reason, fate brought us together. I promise I won’t disappoint.       3 Favorite, Most Challenging Ab Exercises I Love To Hate

You are about to get the scoop on my all-time favorite (and by that I mean, “most painful but effective”) ab workouts of all time.

Or at least so far this week.

First, a little backstory… 

I co-host a live, sponsored radio show called The Bowflex Burn.

It airs every Wednesday morning where the host, Tom Holland, exercise physiologist, a good friend and 23-time Ironman triathlete (you can listen live at 11:00 a.m. EST every week at WGCH.com or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes) and I tackle timely issues.

Topics range from diet myths (surprise: carbs are not the root of all evil), to how to get rid of belly fat once and for all (links below to blogs on the topic), and the weirdest people you’ll ever meet at the gym, including the Creeper, Machine Hog and Sweaty Gross Guy.

3 Favorite, Most Challenging Ab Exercises I Love To HateAnd, like this blog, we use humor to dispense solid information in a non-boring way.

Because, let’s face it, fitness information isn’t typically known for its cliff-hanging, nail-biting suspense or hilarity.

But one topic always garners the biggest reactions from listeners: abs.

Specifically, how to flatten, tone and tighten them and otherwise whip them into shape like you wish you could do to the office bully who took credit for your idea to give all female employees a monthly shoe budget. But I digress.

As an Ageless Woman, you’re likely familiar with this battle.

It’s ongoing, affects nearly every woman over 50 on some level, and is enough to make you join a monastery so you can wear a monk robe flouncy enough to hide a 500-lb. weight gain.

But since you likely don’t live high on a mountain top in the Himalayas, you have to find a way to fit into human-size pants.

The number one obstacle you must address: your diet.

I won’t get into that in depth here, since I’ve talked about it in other posts (see below), but I will say this: No exercise in the world will help flatten your abs if you’re spooning Chunky Monkey straight from the container every night. Or drinking copious amounts of wine. Or otherwise overindulging in another calorie-laden adventure.

Also check out:

5 Scientifically proven ways to get rid of belly fat

5 Ways to ditch belly fat

10 Ways to blast belly fat after 50 (my free eBook)

So once you have your dietary ducks in a row, doing the right exercises can help firm up your midsection.

This week a listener asked, “What are your three favorite ab exercises?”

I assume by “favorite” she meant “most effective,” since no sane person actually enjoys ab workouts.

I picked three, complex ab exercises I do all the time. I like them because, basically, I’m lazy. I don’t like to waste a lot of time going from one exercise to the other but would rather combine them. Consider them the equivalent of an exercise casserole.

(Note: I talk more about combination exercises in this post: A workout hack to speed results and save time)

Before you try these, keep these tips in mind:

  • These are advanced moves, so go easy if you’re just starting.
  • Go to failure (do as many as you can using good form) instead of counting reps
  • Do these at the end of your workout to avoid fatiguing your core muscles, which reduces your stability while doing other exercises

PLANKS ON A FITNESS BALL
Only try these after you’ve mastered traditional planks. The added balance challenge takes your core workout to the next level.

BICYCLE CRUNCHES
These target all parts of your abdominal area and were once rated the #1 ab exercise by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

REVERSE CRUNCH
These target more of the lower abdominal “pooch” area. To make these super challenging, I do these on a decline bench, with my head up on an incline.

NOW YOU.

Which of these exercises will you try this week? Post below and tell me which one you liked best! I’d love to hear from you.

By the way, if you need help getting your nutrition act together, sign up for my Ageless Body Eating Plan! It’s custom designed for you based on your goals, likes and dislikes — AND it’s the plan I turn to when I need to fine tune myself (which is more often than you may think).

Questions? Comments? Accolades? Post below, share ’em on social networks or, if you’re shy, send me a note at linda@lindamelone.com

Your Ageless Body Coach,

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6 Comments

  1. Teresa Fulwiler on May 19, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Will definitely try the reverse crunches. I’ve already started doing the bicycle crunches and really like them. I had been doing sit ups and was starting to have some lower back pain. I’m still working on surviving the plank! 🙂 I truly appreciate your news letters and website! You are helping this 55 year old look and feel better!

    • Linda Melone, CSCS on May 19, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks, Teresa! 🙂 Sit ups are not great for your lower back, but you have plenty of alternatives. The plank is much more back friendly. Keep up the good work!

  2. Patricia Scott on May 19, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Enjoyed these tips. Learning to not depend on that swing with the movements is a challenge. I’ve slowed down my movements in quite a few exercises and have seen an improvement. Better form over quantity. Thank you

    • Linda Melone, CSCS on May 19, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      That’s great, Patricia! 🙂

  3. Debbie on May 20, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    Thanks so much for these great ab exercises! I’ve been doing the bicycle and reverse crunches, but the planks on a fitness ball are definitely going to be added to my core workout. Should I work my abs more than 2-3 times per week? There seems to be arguments for both sides, so what is your opinion, Linda?

    • Linda Melone, CSCS on May 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Debbie! As with other muscle groups, I’d skip a day in between, especially if you’re still sore from the last workout. There’s no real advantage to doing them more than a few times a week, especially if you’re really working hard :).

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