Okay, I hope you guys don’t think this is a click bait title. I do think that when you break down ab workouts, they’re not that hard. The specific movements are pretty easy to nail down in fact. But, well, when you actually put the timer on and have to do it? It can be really hard. My abs are always on fire!!!!
Here’s my completely non-professional opinion on abs. They’re important. Not for how they look, but I truly think that when your core is strong the rest of your workouts (lifting, cardio, yoga, whatever!) is easier. A strong core is the best foundation for building the rest of your workout.
If you’ve been following along on my “exercise journey,” you know that I found this class that I love at Chelsea Piers. It’s Intro to Strength Training with Susannah (who is leaving us to get her doctorate! No big deal.), and it’s totally changing my opinion about working out. I love it now! Seriously, I hardly recognize myself. I shared our stretching routine a couple of weeks ago. Today I’m sharing the ab workouts we do. Technically we do these after the bulk of the workout and before our final stretches.
But I think you could do these on your own, too. These would be great to incorporate into your routine after spin class or even if you just want to do it on a Saturday morning at home. Again, they’re “easy” and super hard at the same time. You can mix and match the moves. In class we do four or five sets for 45 seconds each (as many quality reps as possible), and then we end with the planks.
This is Susannah’s favorite move to kick off with our ab circuits. It’s simply a toe touch with your legs completely straight in the air. You come back down without completely flopping to the ground and then crunch back up to touch your toes.
For this one, you lie down on your stomach with your arms and legs slightly apart and extended. Lift your left leg and right arm, place back down. Then lift your right leg and left arm, place back down. And repeat.
With with your legs in a V in the air, crunch up reaching your arms through the V, then reach your arms to the left of your legs, then to the right of your legs. Repeat. (So middle, left, right, middle, left, right, etc.)
I HATE this one because it makes my abs burn like crazy. Also, my legs are supposed to be straight… so do as I say, not as I do. (It’s just so hard, I do my best ha!) Start with your right leg in the air and left leg extended, then switch keeping your legs as straight as possible.
Oh, my favorite! I just think it’s fun. With one leg extended and one leg in the air, you “climb” up your leg until you reach your feet, then “climb” back down to your calf. Repeat going back up and down. And after the 45 seconds, switch legs.
Another classic, but this one also starts to burn quickly! With your body in a V, keep your legs as straight as possible, reaching your arms out.
There are a few variations you can do here. But I like to keep it simple. Extend your legs while you’re in a very obtuse V (I feel like a turtle on my back) and then crunch up, pulling your knees into your chest and sitting up into your knees. Extend back out to the obtuse V and repeat.
Another one of Susannah’s favorites. Lift your legs completely straight up into the air and raise your tailbone. Release back down but not all the way and lift back up.
The simple bicycle is a quick way to start questioning everything. It hurts so good. Extend your left leg straight out, and pull your right knee in as you twist your left elbow into the right knee. Repeat on the opposite side!
This starfish move is one where I mentally have to really focus otherwise I’ll quit from the pain! Lie on your back with your arms extended out and above your head and legs out as well, like a starfish! Lift your left leg and your right arm up to meet, and switch sides, and repeat.
This is the Superman. I don’t love this one, but I suffer through it. Start on your stomach with your legs and arms straight out. Using your core, lift your legs and arms! You can hold and release to the ground before going back up, or you can just hold it.
Finally the planks! We do a minute plank (you can also do it on your forearms) and then 30 or 45 seconds planking on each side, modifying as necessary.
Photos by Courtney Ann Photography