Use it as a stand-alone workout, or mix it up with your usual strength-training routine…
Train your core and get your best abs with these six moves three non-consecutive days a week. Either do them all together as a stand-alone workout or add three or four of them to the end of your usual strength-training routine. For each move, start with one set. Once you can complete all the reps with perfect form, add another.
1. Hanging Straight-Leg Raise
Targets Lower Abs
Hang in a straight line from a pull-up bar, your hands shoulder-width apart and hips under your body (A). With a straight back and legs, breathe out and slowly raise your legs until they’re parallel to the floor (B). Slowly lower your legs. That’s one rep. Do four to six. Too easy? Try to raise your feet above 90 degrees (C).
As you raise your legs, don’t swing them or let momentum do the work. Concentrate on keeping your butt down, as if you’re sitting on a chair.
2. Toe Touch
Targets Upper Abs
Lie on your back holding a three- to five-kilogram dumbbell in both hands. Lift your legs so they’re perpendicular to the floor; extend your arms, keeping the dumbbell directly over your chest (A). Without moving your legs, lift your chest and shoulders off the floor and try to touch your feet with the dumbbell (B). Do 15 to 20 reps.
Avoid bending your knees and try to lift your chest and shoulders higher with every rep.
3. The Sprinter
Targets Upper and Lower Abs and Obliques
Lie straight on your back with your heels 10cm off the floor (A). Start sitting up while lifting your left arm with the elbow bent, so it resembles a sprinter’s pumping motion. At the peak of the sit-up, bring your right knee to your chest (B). Return to the start position, then repeat with the opposite arm and leg. That’s one rep. Do up to 20.
Control your movement through the entire exercise, bracing your core to keep pressure off your back.
4. Walking Lunge Plate Twist
Targets Entire Core
Hold a five- to 10kg weight plate with your elbows bent, your feet hip-width apart (A). Twist your upper body 90 degrees to the right while you lunge forwards until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and left knee is nearly touching the floor (B). Twist and step back, then repeat on the left. That’s one rep. Do eight to 10.
Sink low into the lunge but don’t let your front knee extend past your toes. Keep your chest up and your back straight as you twist.
5. Twisting Windmill
Lie with your arms extended to the sides at shoulder height. Raise your legs until they’re perpendicular to the floor (A). Lower your legs to your left until they’re a few centimetres away from your left hand (B). Bring them back to centre. Repeat on your right. That’s one rep. Do 12.
Avoid bouncing your feet off the floor before you move back up to centre.
6. Superman Variations
Targets Lower Back
Lie with your legs hip-width apart and your arms straight in front of you. Lift your head. Lift your legs and hold for 15 to 30 seconds (A). Lower, then lift your arms and hold for 15 to 30 seconds (B), lift your right arm and left leg (C), then slowly switch sides, lifting your left arm and right leg. Alternate until you’ve done 15 on each side.
Try to lift your hips off the floor, not just your legs.