No one wants to feel less than their best during the summer months. ‘Tis the season for crop tops, bathing suits, short shorts, and tank tops. As we kick off the days of running around in barely there clothing and basking in the sun, looking good is important, and the first step to looking good, is feeling good, first. Don’t let summer slip by just because you’re not feeling your very best.
According to Robert Reames, Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute Expert, the secret to a good ab workout is targeting different parts of the massive muscle, which benefits the entire body. Reames, who has provided us with 5 moves for great abs, recommends performing this circuit 3 to 4 times a week, then, once you’re comfortable, taking it to the next level with the high-octane versions. Repeat the 5-move circuit 3 times, resting for 30 seconds between circuits.
Here are 5 moves from Reames for your best summer abs.
1. Bicycle sit-ups (50 reps, each extension of the leg is 1 rep)
Lie flat on your back with hands behind head and knees directly over hips, forming a 90-degree angle. In a single motion, extend your right leg straight while bringing your left knee straight back toward your left elbow. Return to the original position, then repeat with the left leg extending and right knee moving toward right elbow. “You should focus on having a smooth, even, continuous flow to your movements for maximum effect,” Reames says.
High octane version: Place hands on a medicine ball
2. Russian twist on a Swiss ball (12 reps, each side)
Lie with your low to mid-back on a Swiss ball and your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, then clasp hands directly over chest, keeping arms straight. Carefully rotate arms to one side, as the Swiss ball rolls across to the back of your shoulder. “Make sure to keep your hips high by squeezing and activating your glutes,” Reames says. Then, return to the starting position, repeat to opposite side.
High octane version: Hold medicine ball between hands
3. Hanging knee lifts (15 reps)
Place your arms in the straps connected to the high chin bar, firmly gripping the top of the strap. Bring your knees to your chest, then slowly return to the start position. “Controlling the speed of the return motion will help to avoid swinging,” Reames said, and will also ensure that you work your abs to their fullest.
High octane version: Add a 10-pound dumbbell between your feet.
4. Ball bridges (15 reps)
Begin facing up with your head, neck, and shoulders comfortably placed on the floor with your legs stretched out straight and your lower legs balanced on a Swiss ball. Pull your legs toward your body while lifting your glutes off the ground until your feet are firmly planted on the ball and your upper body forms a straight line from your shoulder to your knees.
High octane version: Put a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell or plate on the lower ab area
5. Stationary cobra (hold for 30 seconds)
Lie face down on a mat or the floor. Push your chest off floor until your arms are straight. Make sure to keep your neck in a neutral position to avoid neck hyperextension. Hold this position for 30 seconds, to work the low back area and provide a perfect complement to all the ab-focused exercises.
High octane version: hold for 1 minute