Six-pack abs don’t come easily, but there are some sure fire ways to tighten and tone your core. A solid diet is one big piece of the puzzle, and ISSA-certified trainer Aneshea Shali, owner of Core Camp Challenge, provides the other. Her floor-based routine works the core from two basic positions: (1) faceup balancing on your glutes (similar to a V-up position) for the first four exercises; and (2) an arms-extended high plank for the latter three moves.
Holding these two positions requires core strength and stability, of course, but the variety of exercises calls a number of other muscle groups into play, as well — including the thighs and glutes on the faceup moves and the shoulders via the high-plank holds. And why not? A little bonus work for the butt, quads and delts is never a bad thing, particularly in the summer months when tank tops and bathing suits are in regular rotation.
“This is also a really good workout for the lower abs due to all the leg lifts in the first four exercises,” Shali says. “Getting a better six-pack is primarily about nutrition, but you still want to train all areas of the abdominal wall and core.”
Kicks and Planks Core-Crusher Workout
Do each of the below exercises one after another as a circuit, 10 reps per move. After you’ve completed one round of the circuit, rest 60 to 90 seconds and repeat the circuit for two more rounds.
If you’re advanced and want a greater challenge, do four or five rounds instead of three and/or shorten the rest between rounds to zero to 45 seconds.
|In and Out||10|
|Cross-Body Toe Touch||10|
|High-Plank Spider Man||10|
Exercise Descriptions and Tips
In and Out
Execution: Sit on the floor, lift your feet up with bent knees, and lean your torso back slightly so you’re balancing with only your butt and hands touching the floor. (Place your hands under your glutes for stability.) Extend your legs out in front of you while lowering your torso to the floor. When your heels and shoulder blades are only a few inches off the floor, body in a straight line, contract your abs and core to return to the up position, bringing your chest and knees together. Do 10 continuous reps at a steady cadence.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “You don’t have to do these super slow, but make sure the motion is under control the entire time and you can feel your abs working.”
Execution: Lying faceup on the floor, lift your shoulders and legs up so that only your glutes, hands and forearms are in contact with the floor. (Place your hands under your glutes.) Your heels should be only a few inches off the floor (legs fully extended), with your shoulder blades anywhere from 6 to 12 inches up. Keeping your torso in this position throughout and your knees extended, contract the muscles of your outer hips and thighs to spread your legs apart as wide as possible. Bring them back together and repeat for 10 reps, keeping your feet hovering over the floor the entire time.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “This should be a dynamic movement that you feel in the core and outer thighs while also feeling a stretch in the adductors (groin) when your legs are spread. Go with a cadence of around one second per rep.”
Execution: Assume the same starting position you did with Hello Dolly — faceup, shoulders and legs off the floor, with only your glutes, hands and forearms in contact with the floor. This time, do large vertical alternating flutter kicks. At the top, your up leg should be just short of perpendicular with the floor; at the bottom, don’t let your heel touch the floor. One kick up with each leg is one rep. Alternate legs until 10 reps are complete.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “Keep breathing — don’t hold your breath! Like the Hello Dolly, this is a dynamic exercise. Go for good, powerful kicks on every rep.”
Cross-Body Toe Touch
Execution: Begin in a similar starting position as the Hello Dolly and flutter kick exercises, except that your hands and arms are at your sides (instead of under your glutes) and your heels are on the floor. Keeping your knee extended or close to it, lift your right leg and torso up together and touch your left hand to your right foot. Drop back down, then repeat on the other side (left leg lifting up, right hand to left foot). One leg lift per side is one rep. Alternate legs for 10 total reps.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “Balance will be more of an issue on this exercise than the previous ones. Focus on keeping your core tight for stability, and feel free to slow the movement down, if needed. Don’t rush this one.”
Execution: Start in a high-plank position (aka push-up position) — hands on the floor below your shoulders, arms extended, body in a straight line from head to heels. Maintaining the rigid plank, bring one knee to the same-side elbow with your thigh flared out to the side, then reverse the motion to return to the start position. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Alternate sides until you’ve completed 10 reps.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “Even though the motion is occurring in your legs, keep your focus on the core the entire time. Don’t let your hips drop down to the floor. Strong, tight core!”
Execution: Starting in the high-plank position, kick both feet out to the sides so they land on the floor somewhere outside shoulder width (depending on your hip mobility). Immediately bring your feet back together and repeat for 10 reps. Keep your knees extended, core tight and hips up throughout.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “Keep your eyes facing the floor so that your neck stays in a safe, neutral position; don’t lift your head up to look in front of you. And just like with the Spider-Man [exercise], focus on the core even though you’re moving your legs.”
Execution: From the high-plank position, bring one knee straight forward underneath your chest, then reverse the motion to extend it back to the start position. Repeat with the opposite leg — that’s one rep. Alternate legs until you’ve completed 10 reps total.
Aneshea’s Coaching Cue: “At this point, your shoulders are probably getting tired from holding the high-plank position for multiple exercises. If you need to take a short break between these last few exercises to give your shoulders some rest, that’s fine.”