Our Abs are one of the most difficult areas to lose weight from or to tone up, as many of us know – much to our dismay!
For a regular person to aspire for Bollywood-style six-pack Abs is far-fetched, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try! So here’s my secret list of 5 super-easy Ab Exercises for your core which helped me melt away my C-Section belly. All you will need is a yoga mat and 10 minutes from your admittedly busy day. And as to the question – Do they work? Well, I still don’t have Bipasha’s Abs but at least I don’t jiggle now!
1. The Plank
This is frankly THE most effective yet under-rated exercise to tone your core (at least in India).
Somehow all we can think of, when trying to lose belly fat, is Ab crunches. Whereas they can be effective – when you do about 200 of them every day! – I personally felt that they gave me a stiff neck and back. A plank, on the other hand, is way more effective and it tones your entire body. Ideally, during ‘planking’, the body should be in a straight line with no sagging down of the stomach/belly and no holding up of the butt/glutes. The strength should come from the tightening of the core (think of it as the area behind your navel).
There are several easier variations of a Plank, especially for beginners, who can start with resting on their knees instead of their toes but I would advise you to start off with resting on the toes only. Even if you can hold it for 1 second, you should start from there. And as for how long you should hold the Plank position, well, the current world record (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) is 3 hours 7 minutes and 15 seconds, set in Newport, Kentucky on 20 April 2013 by George Hood. My personal record is 2 minutes 2 seconds. Wooo Hooo!
2. Russian Twist
Try the Russian Twist for those Love Handles! This is my personal favorite! While it takes some practice to get the posture right, once you do, it is positively the best exercise to say goodbye to those charming little love handles.
1. Start by sitting on the floor & placing your feet in front of you with your knees bent (as in the image for beginners).
2. Lean back slightly so that there is a 45 degree angle between your upper body and your legs and then start twisting from side to side, trying to touch the floor on the opposite side with your hand.
3. To make this exercise even more challenging (advanced), lift your feet off the ground, taking care to keep your back at the same angle and then start twisting. The advanced version of the exercise (keeping your legs in the air) will also engage the Lower Abs as they tighten to help you keep your balance.
4. To further up the ante, add in hand weights as per your ability.
3. Bicycle crunch
Instead of doing a normal crunch, I prefer bicycle crunches. And while these may look easy to some of you, they really work the abdomen, which means that even after about a year of training, I cannot manage more than 20 on each side at one go.
Here’s a quick guide on what to do:
- Lie on your back on a mat with your legs in a table-top position & your hands behind your head (remember not to clasp/lace your fingers together since all it will really do is put unnecessary pressure on your neck).
2. Tighten/suck in your tummy and lift your shoulders, ensuring that you do not tuck in your chin.
3. Now bring your elbow and opposite knee towards each other (trying to get them to touch being the eventual goal) while straightening/kicking out your other leg. Make sure that your straightened leg is at least 6 inches off the ground or higher. Now do the other side & that’s one rep (a cool way of saying one repetition)
Keep the motions continuous, as if pedaling a bicycle. And I cannot stress enough that the pressure is meant to be on your core and back, and Not on your neck. Without the right posture, you can get injured, so be very careful.
4. Front Leg Raises
This is a great exercise for the pesky lower abdomen area & one I swear by.
1. Lie flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you. If you have back problems, fold a towel and put it under the curve of your back, just above your hips. I generally keep both my hands there to give support to my lower back.
2. Straighten your legs so that your toes are pointed at the ceiling. Keeping your toes pointed is very important since that will make sure your body is straight and your form absolutely correct.
3. Now breathing in, slowly lower your legs in a controlled motion, to just about an inch off the floor. And while breathing out, raise them back up to point at the ceiling. Remember on the way down, not to let gravity do your work – make sure you’re in control. And if the exercise feels too easy, then you’re doing it too fast, so try to lower your legs more slowly.[/one_half]
There are many versions for this exercise and you can incorporate them as you get stronger, like lifting your hips off the ground when your legs go up, holding a small exercise ball between your ankles, etc. But let’s just get this right first 🙂
5. Dead Bug
Ya, it sounds weird & looks weird but is a lot of fun!
1. Begin by lying on your back, with your legs at a 90 degree angle and the knees bent, with your feet parallel to the floor. Your arms should be at 90 degrees to your body, pointing straight up.
2. Now after holding this initial position for a moment & making sure that your Abs/Core is tightly held in and that your back isn’t arching off the floor (if it is, lower the feet to the ground for this exercise), slowly lower one arm and then the opposite leg towards the floor. Bring them back up and lower the other arm and opposite leg to the floor. This is one rep.
Continue lowering opposite arm and leg for a total of 10 reps. This is a wonderful exercise for the back and abs which will give you fast and desired levels and is also fairly easy to do.[/one_half]
So hopefully now you have everything you need to start your attack on that stubborn belly fat and build a stronger core. Like I said, all you need is a yoga mat and 10 minutes out of your busy day.
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