Better Abs…Faster!

yoga side plank
Trim, sexy abs. We all want them, but just about all of us struggle to achieve them. Yes, watch your diet. Yes, do cardio at least 4 to 5 times a week to blast ab fat. But what else can you do to sculpt out a better waistline?

Read: The Skinny On Belly Fat

Try these expert-approved tips at least 2 to 3 times a week:

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1. Weighted bicycle

According to a San Diego State University study, the bicycle is one of the most effective abs exercises you can do, and this weighted version will have your rectus abdominus working overtime.

How to do it: Start lying on your back with both knees bent. Extend your arms overhead, bending your left arm behind your head and holding onto your right arm, just above your elbow, with your left hand. Bend your right knee and press your right foot on the inside of your extended left leg (left leg should be off the floor and low). Lift your right shoulder off the floor and turn it in towards your left leg, while you lift both legs up about 45 degrees. Lower back to start position, that’s one rep. Perform 15 reps on each side.

Bonus tip: Exhale as you perform the movement, and think of drawing your belly button in deeper to your spine on the hardest part of the move.

This move targets the lower portion of the abdominal wall (AKA the dreaded ‘pooch’ area).

Open knee tucks

This move targets the lower portion of the abdominal wall (AKA the dreaded ‘pooch’ area).

How to do it: Start lying on your back, bend your knees into your chest, point your toes together, and open knees out to the sides, keeping toes touching. Extend both arms overhead on either side of your ears, palms facing up. Lift your hips off the floor and bring your knees up towards your armpits. Slowly lower your hips back down to start position.

Bonus tip: Think of engaging your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use to stop the flow of urine) while you lift your hips off the floor. Repeat 20 times total.

X Abs

Slightly changing the angle of your arms and legs can make a huge difference in the intensity of your abs work. Try this ‘X’ shaped move to feel the extra burn!

How to do it: Start lying on your back with your arms and legs extended straight up to the ceiling, head resting on the floor. Open your arms and legs into an ‘X’ shape, bringing the legs just above the floor, and your arms back by your ears. Next, bring legs and arms back together, lifting your head off the floor, looking towards your legs, pressing your arms just outside of hips (but not touching the floor), and lifting your hips off the ground as your legs come in towards your head. That’s one rep. Repeat 20 times total.

Bonus tip: Think about exhaling and drawing your belly in tighter as you lift your head and hips up to help control your movement and not use momentum.

Side Plank with Knee Circle

This total-body move really zeros in on your core muscles, which not only include your abs, but also your back, hip flexors, and inner thighs.

How to do it: Start lying on your right side and bend your right elbow underneath your shoulder to prop up your body, reaching your left arm straight up to the ceiling. Bend your right knee and keep your left leg extended, with your foot flat on the floor. Press your hips off the ground and lift your right knee off the floor and bring the inside of your right foot to the left inner thigh. Next, turn your right knee up towards the ceiling (keeping your foot still pressed on inner thigh), tracing a ‘circle’ with your knee. Make 10 circles with your right knee, and then switch to the other side and repeat with your left.

Bonus tip: This move is tough, so if you need to, just work on holding your side plank position with your knee off the floor first and then build up to tracing the circles.

Chop Jacks

This quick cardio burst helps work your waistline while burning up some body fat at the same time.

How to do it: Start standing with your feet together and your hands clasped. Bring both hands up to your right shoulder, bending elbows. Next, jump your feet apart and squat back into your hips as you chop your hands down to the outside of your left hip. Jump feet back together and bring hands back to right shoulder. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times on one side, and 10 times on the other.

Bonus tip: The higher you jump during this move, the more intense this move gets. Add as much height as you can to boost your calorie-burning potential.