The advent of winter is a great time to transform your body - you have three months where you can keep yourself covered up and work out like a demon, unbeknown to any of your friends. Then in spring you take the layers off and show everyone that firm, envy-inducing frame that you have kept in secret for so long. Picking the right types of exercise is important though, that where we can help with these specially sequenced exercises that will have you looking hot by spring time.
This workout includes exercises that not only directly require the use of your abdominals, but ones that also give them a workout when you are targeting other parts of your body. You will be performing static holds and planks, which has been proven by research to create a high activation rate of the abdominal wall, thus creating a better exercise affect and a more defined midsection.
You will need to perform this series as a circuit - complete the exercises in order with the repetitions suggested. Try not to rest between exercises, but when you complete the whole series you can rest for a minute. Attempt to complete 5 rounds of the whole series.
This is a great exercise to condition the whole body, especially the abs. To get into the plank position, you need to prop yourself up onto your hands and feet. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders, with your elbows straight (but not locked), and your shoulders down and back. Your spine should make a straight line with your legs, pubic bone tucked towards your belly button. Feet flexed and balls of the feet on the floor.
To perform the plank, hold this position and breathe normally, but with every breath out thinking about connecting your ribs to your hips so that your obliques can activate.
reps: hold for a minute
Pilates Push Up
The Pilates Push Up compounds the plank by increasing the load (and difficulty!) on the arms. This is great for the triceps and shoulders, along with the abs.
To perform the Pilates Push Up, begin by assuming the plank position. From here, widen the stance of your hands so that they are just wider than shoulder width apart. Now, begin to lower yourself down into the push up position - the twist here is to stop twice during the lowering phase of the push up so that you are holding your plank in positions where your elbows are heavily bent. This will increase the tension in your arms. Once you have lowered yourself all the way down, press into the floor, straighten your elbows and move yourself back into the starting plank position.
Abdominal Curls on the ball
Ab curls on the ball are incredibly tough and hit the abs in different ranges of movement - much better for your six-pack than your standard sit up.
To do Ab Curls on the ball, grab a Pilates ball and lie down on top of it, with your lower back and hips supported by the ball and your feet on the floor. Elbows are bent and wide, with your hands clasped behind your head. Breathe in, and lower your upper body and head down onto the ball. Once your upper back touches the ball, breathe out, curl your ribs to your hips and lift your upper body off the ball - that's one rep.
Sides over the ball
Direct oblique exercises are generally hated because they don't seem to do too much - sides over the ball will change that.
To do Sides over the ball, get your Pilates ball and lie on it sideways - you will have to secure your feet on the floor, with your legs wide. Keep your hands close to your head, elbows bent. Breathe in, and lower your body sideways onto the ball. Try to get your armpit to touch the ball. From here, breathe out and curl your upper body up towards the ceiling, bending at the side of your top waist. That's one rep.
reps: 20 - don't forget to do each side!
Kneeling sidekick is an amazing butt-toner, but also good for the abs. Be sure to pump yourself up first before this exercise, it's a killer!
To perform Kneeling Sidekick, prop yourself up onto your hand and knee on the same side. Hold yourself so that your body is facing perpendicular to the floor. Your free hand goes behind your head, while your non-weight bearing leg straightens out and aligns with your body. As you hold this position, breathe out and raise your straight leg up as high as possible (hip height is best), then breathe in and lower the leg back to the floor (but don't touch the floor). That's one rep.