A fun and challenging workout that can be done just about anywhere with the help of a plyo box, bench, or chair. Targets both the abdominal and oblique muscles – great for carving out a flat stomach and toned abs.
My ab workouts have really evolved over the last couple years, and for good reason. Improving my diet was one thing, but I also realized that squeezing in 10 minutes of ab work at the end of my last workout of the week somehow wasn’t cutting it. Duh.
I actually see a lot of people do this. They spend most of their workout doing cardio or lifting weights, and then throw in a few ab moves at the end. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it will take you a VERY long time and a pretty strict diet to carve out a six pack or flat stomach with such little time spent on your abs. I promise I’m speaking from experience.
I think the root of my problem was that I didn’t have a very well-rounded ab routine. I’d do a few variations of crunches or swiss ball exercises, then quickly move on to the only ab machine that my gym at the time had. Which meant that the machine was almost never available.
What young Stephanie finally realized was that variety and time was just as important to getting toned abs as it was to my other muscle groups. If I could spend an entire workout training my biceps & triceps, why couldn’t I do the same for my core workout?
This ab workout does just that – incorporates a variety of exercises to target different areas of your core, leaving your abdominal and oblique muscles with that wonderful burning sensation while strengthening your overall core. Complete 8-12 reps of each exercise (8-12 reps per side for those that work each side separately) and then repeat the entire circuit again for a total of 3 rounds.
#1 Reverse Plank Single Leg Crunch
Place your palms on the edge of a plyo box or bench, hands under your shoulders and feet out in front of you so that your body forms a straight line. Keeping your core tight and legs straight, pull one knee towards your chest, pause at the top for a second, and then lower your heel back to the ground. Repeat for the other side, and continue till you’ve done desired amount of reps (8-12) for each side. Be mindful not to lower your butt toward the ground as you lift your knees – this will ensure that you’re using your core muscles to stabilize the movement.
#2 Elevated Crunch
Lie on your back with your feet elevated on the edge of the box, calves almost parallel to the ground and holding a weight in front of you. Brace your core as you lift your shoulders off the ground in crunch position, being sure not to strain your neck or arch your back. Your ab muscles should be flexed, using your waist as the pivot point. Slowly lower back to the ground, keeping your core engaged.
#3 Oblique Raises
Place your elbow/forearm on the edge of the box just under your shoulder in side plank position. Holding a weight in your other hand, tighten your core and begin to lower your hip that is facing the ground. Go as low as you comfortably can, making sure your arm does not move. With this exercise, it’s tempting to move your arm or shoulder to help your body get even lower. Keeping the arm that’s on the box completely stationary ensures you are working your core muscles, and not your shoulder. Added weight is optional.
#4 Planking Diagonal Crunch
Get in a plank position with your hands gripping the side of the box, your arms creating a 45 degree angle with your body so that your hands aren’t directly under the shoulders. Bring your knee diagonally across your body as far as you can without arching your back toward the opposite side. Lower back onto your toes and repeat with the other knee, continuing to reach diagonally across the body with each knee.
#5 Spider Crunch
Get in plank position, this time with the tips of your toes on the box and your hands on the ground underneath your shoulders. Bring your right knee out to the side and toward your right elbow, keeping your core tight and back straight. Bring your leg back so that your toes return to the box and repeat with the other side.
#6 Seated Crunch
Sit on the edge of a plyo box or bench, hands gripping the sides at the back of the box. Extend your legs out straight in front of you and tip your upper body slightly backward. Bending the knees and flexing your core, pull both knees in toward your chest and pause at the top of the movement. Bracing your core, slowly straighten your legs back out. That’s one rep.
#7 Reverse Single Leg Crunch
Lie on your back with your heels on the edge of the box, calves parallel to the ground. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees with your hips elevated off the ground. One leg at a time, tighten your core and bring your knee as close to your chest as possible in a crunch. Slowly lower back to the box and repeat with other side.