Super-shredded abs are a bonus of having a strong core, sure, but the real benefit comes from the added stability you get through your entire body. Kara Faulk, an instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp, a fitness studio known for its cardio and strength intervals, created this set of core moves that will have your abs quivering and begging for more.
Here’s the plan: Do this entire series twice, performing each move for 45 to 60 seconds. For an optimal full-body workout, add in a 15- to 18-minute cardio interval, then repeat the series two more times.
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Lie down, and press your lower back into a bench or mat. Raise your straight arms to meet your straight legs in a “V” shape, lifting your shoulder blades to crunch toward your toes at the top of the lift. For an extra challenge, add a heavy weight, using a diamond grip (shown above). Extend the weight overhead and back as your legs extend, and reach the weight toward your toes at the top.
Lie down, and press your lower back into a bench or mat. Lift your shoulder blades to the top of a crunch position, and extend your legs to the height of your shoulders. Raise your right leg, then your left, alternating so that your legs meet in the middle as you switch.
Related: ‘I Did 50 Crunches Every Day For A Month—Here’s What Happened’
Isometric Hold with Arm/Leg Extension
Lie down, press your lower back into a bench or mat, and elevate your legs into a table-top position. Flex your heels, and bring your palms to press against your knees. At the same time, press your knees into your palms. The constant resistance created here will fire up every section of your core. The harder you press, the more effective this move will be.
To advance this move, press your right palm and your right knee against each other while in a table-top position, and extend your left arm and left leg. Bring them back to a table-top position and hold for three seconds before alternating sides. (And remember: press hard!)
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Resistance Band Oblique Crunches
Place a band under a heavy structure with even lengths on both sides. Grab both handles with your left hand, and allow the bands to fall below the height of your left knee, stretching out through the right side of your body. Then, pull your right elbow down, raising the band handles above your left hip. (It’s all about lengthening and then crunching!) Full range of motion is key here. Repeat on your opposite side.
Adding resistance to a basic oblique crunch makes a huge difference in oblique strength and definition. To make this move as effective as possible, resist when you’re on the decline, and release the resistance slowly, tightening your core as you do.
Hate crunches? Check out this standing flat-abs workout:
Resistance Band Oblique Pulls
With a band underneath a bench, turn to your side and hold the hanlde with both hands. Keeping the handle at shoulder-height, turn your chest and pull the handle until it’s in front of you. Then release back to your side with a slow and controlled tempo. As you perform the movement, think about a quick pull, tighten, and then a four-second release time. Make sure your back is straight, your shoulders are back, and your chest is open the entire time.
Related: 3 Strength-Training Habits You Should Quit Immediately
Plank with Knee Taps
Get into a high plank or forearm plank position, then tuck your pelvis and slowly lower your knees to tap the floor. (The key word here is “tap.” Do not place your weight on your knees as you lower down.) Contract your core and exhale as your knees slowly lower down, and inhale as your knees lift back up. Make sure your pelvis stays tucked and that your shoulders stay directly over your elbows or palms, depending on your plank type.
Related: Lose Your Belly with Just Two Exercise Moves
Hollow Hold with Medicine Ball Pass
Lie down, and press your lower back into a bench or mat. Extend yoru arms overhead and lift your shoulder blades while extending your legs and lifting them to shoulder height. Crunch your knees to your chest, bringing your body to balance on your tailbone, and touch a weight to your shins. The challenge is to keep your shins level as you extend your body back into a hollow-hold position.