Emily’s Top 5 Ab Exercises

Summer is on its way and it’s time to get bikini ready! I’ve put together a list of my top five ab workouts to tone and tighten your tummy in time for the swimsuit season.

1. The Plank

The plank is my #1 go to ab exercise. It is so effective in targeting  the abdominals as well as strengthening the shoulders, back and glutes.

Start by placing your elbows directly under your shoulders and rise up onto your toes. Push your heels back and keep the back flat so that you are in a straight line. Pull the belly button in towards your spine to engage your core. Hold here for 30-60 seconds and repeat 3 times.

If this is too hard or you are feeling pressure in the lower back, reduce your time to 10 seconds and work your way up. Or try holding this position down on your knees for 3 sets of 30 seconds. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t hold this position for long. Keep trying the modified knee version and slowly start to work your way up to holding for longer periods on your toes.

2. Single Leg Stretch

Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Take a deep breath and then while exhaling draw the naval to the spine and fold your knees to your chest one at a time. Curl your upper body forward with your chin tucked into your chest and close the gap between your ribs and hips.

While exhaling slowly, stretch your right leg away from your body so that it is approximately 45 degrees to the floor. Breath in and bring the leg back to your chest and repeat this with the other leg. Repeat this 10 times on each leg. Rest and repeat two more times.

3. Vertical Crunch

 The vertical crunch is a great way to exercise the upper and lower abdominals, and one which I would consider the most effective at targeting and toning the abs.

Start by lying flat on your back with your hands behind your head. Extend your legs towards the ceiling. If you can’t fully straighten them, don’t worry, just bend them as much as you need to. Whilst exhaling, bring your belly button in towards the spine and contract the abs to lift your shoulder blades off the ground. At the same time, tilt your heels up towards the ceiling so that your pelvis lifts slightly off the ground. Inhale and lower down and repeat this movement for 3 sets of 10.

4. Reverse Crunch

This ab exercise is fantastic for working the lower abs. It is important to not get into the habit of swinging the legs though – that’s cheating!

Start by lying flat on your back with your hands down by your sides. With your legs extended up to the ceiling, use your abdominals to lift your hips off the ground and push your legs upwards. Lower down slowly and repeat for 3 sets of 10.

5. Side Plank Raises

Side planks are great at targeting the obliques and for working into that problem area that many people call, “Muffin Tops”. Start this exercise by lying on your right side and propping yourself up on your right forearm. Make sure that the elbow is directly underneath your shoulder. With your legs extended and stacked on top of one another, push up onto your feet so that your hips are off the ground and you are in a straight line. Now you are in the side plank position. Slowly lower your hips without touching the ground and then lift them back up to the side plank position. Repeat this for 10 repetitions and then perform the movement on the other side. Do 3 sets on each side.

If this is too hard, just come down onto your knees and do the same movement.

Be careful when performing these exercises. If you are feeling any pain in your lower back, STOP. If you have any injuries, please consult your physiotherapist or GP before doing the exercises.

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