abs

Flat abs appear on the fitness bucket list of nearly every woman I’ve ever trained. Why does it seem like an elusive goal? Because it takes more than a single exercise or tactic to achieve. And it becomes even harder to attain as we age.

But here’s the reality.

You need to reign in your diet, first and foremost. Giant restaurant portions, Ben & Jerry, McGriddles for breakfast and wine every night have to go. No excuses.

Then there’s general activity. You have to move. Get up from your desk, get water every hour—find ways to move. Walk while on the phone, etc. Every minute you spend on your butt slows the enzymes that burn fat and boom. Next thing you know: tighter pants.

After you get those ducks in a row, here are three exercises to incorporate into your routine three times a week. They all work a little differently to get every last abdominal and core muscle whipped into shape.

Planks

Planks rule for several reasons: they strengthen your entire core, not just your abs, but your back, too. And you can do them if you have osteoporosis (me, unfortunately!), since they’re safer than traditional crunches.

  1. Lie facedown on the floor and prop yourself up on your forearms; extend your legs behind you until your body is parallel to the floor.
  2. Engage your core by drawing your stomach back and up towards your spine and hold; start with 10 seconds and work your way up to 60 seconds for two to three reps.

Reverse crunches

These target the lower “pooch” area.

  1. Lying on your back with both legs straight out, place hands under your butt, slightly lift the legs up off the floor while focusing on pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine (if you’re not strong enough to do this, bend your knees and lift them towards your chest).
  2. Slowly bring them back down and repeat, without touching the floor with your feet between each rep.

Bicycle crunches

Ranked as the best ab exercise by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), this move works the entire abdominal area, including the stubborn  lower abs.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended, feet about ten inches off the ground, and your hands behind your head.
  2. Rotate your right elbow toward your left knee. Keep your opposite elbow on the ground and the opposite leg straight.
  3. Try to pull your navel down to your spine to help maintain a neutral spine. Straighten your leg back to the start position pause and repeat the motion to the opposite side.
  4. Repeat eight times each side, increasing reps as you become stronger.

Do these three times a week and—on top of a clean diet—you’ll be in super shape by the time bathing suit season rolls around!

Take action today! Which exercises work best for you and why? Please leave a comment below and share it with your social networks.

Fit, Fab & Feisty,

Linda