Friday, February 8, 2013

20 Minute Abs Circuit

It's cold, snowy, and wet outside in New York. The perfect day to go indoors and do some ab toning exercises. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to work on your abs is not just by doing crunches. You would need to do enough cardiovascular exercises (running, swimming, cycling, elliptical, etc.) to burn the fat all around your body, including your midsection, and then do strengthening exercises to tone up the muscles.

Our focus today is on the strengthening piece, so please make sure you are still getting consistent cardio in, and not simply relying on the work you do to tone. Prior to doing the routine below, I would suggest warming up for about 5 minutes. You can run, use the elliptical, cycle, do jumping jacks, skip using a jump rope, or any other cardio exercise that requires sweat and constant motion.

Here are a few of my favorites that I have put together to form this 20 minute abs routine. Take your timer or stopwatch and do each exercise for 1 minute. When you are done, start from the beginning and do it all over again. Are you ready?

Minute 1: The Plank 
Remember to keep your body straight and your abs tight. No butt sagging towards the floor or butt high in the air!

Minute 2: Russian Twists 
Legs off the floor and twist from left to right. If you cannot do it with your feet off the floor, do it with your heels on the floor. You'd still be working pretty hard.

Minute 3: Side Plank 
30 seconds on your left side and 30 seconds on your right side.

Minute 4: Standing Oblique twist
Stand tall with your abs tight and your hands in fists beside your chest parallel to the floor. Twist to your left side and punch with the side of your right fist towards the right side. Repeat on the other side and continue for a minute. If this is confusing, use my video here to guide you.

Minute 5: Six inches off the ground
Lay on the floor, put your palms under your butt facing down, and lift your legs about 6 inches off the ground. Hold them there for a minute, using your abs strength to hold them up.

Minute 6: High knees with a twist
This is sort of a running position, but rather than have your feet close to the ground, you lift your knees high with each step, like in the picture below. As you lift your left knee, twist your torso to the left side with your abs tight. Alternate to your right side and do the same. Keep switching for 1 minute.

Minute 7: Bridge
Lie on the floor with your butt facing the floor, and your knees bent with your heels on the floor. Keep your knees about a foot or less apart. Keep your straight hands beside your body to the left and right with your palms down, and lift your butt off the floor. Tighten your abs and hold this position for 1 minute.

Minute 8: Standing knee raises
Stand tall. Lift your left knee towards your chest until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Move that knee back until the hip is parallel to your right hip, but don't stop there. Take that knee as far back as you can while keeping your balance. Then repeat the forward and backward motion for 30 seconds. Do the same with the right leg for 30 seconds.

Minute 9: Pushups 
Keep your body straight like with the plank. Lower to the floor, and come as close as possible without actually touching the floor. Lift back up. Keep going for 1 minute. You have a whole minute so pace yourself. However, if you cannot do a full pushup, do them on your knees.

Minute 10:Standing single leg reverse crunch
This one requires balance. Stand tall on just your right foot. Extend your left foot all the way back till it it parallel to the floor and extend your arms forward, so your body (minus your right foot) is in a straight line. Bend that left foot and bring it towards your lips like you're about to kiss it. Bring your elbows towards the knee as well. Then extend back to the original position. Do this for 30 seconds on the left side and then repeat for 30 seconds on the right side. Hold something if you are unsteady.

Do the whole routine a second time. And then remember to stretch when you are done! 

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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