Great Abs, No Crunches!

Workout of the Week
November 15, 2013 Updated: November 14, 2013

Having strong, svelte abdominals doesn’t have to mean hundreds of sit-ups every day. In fact your muscles need new movements, which keep them working at their peak, adapting to the new stresses. 

Both of these exercises are far more difficult then they appear. I suggest adding them into your abdominal routine to prevent boredom and stimulate change and progression in your stomach area. 

Here is an extra tip for trim, taught, and terrific abs: Drink lots of water and stay well clear of processed foods. The cleaner your diet is, the fasted your stomach will start to transform. Plus, you will feel healthy and energetic!

Hip Circles 

Epoch Times Photo

(Willis Lim/Brisbane Australia)

This exercise strengthens and tones the abdominals and lower back and lengthens and tones the legs. Hip circles improve stability in the deep core muscles and promote mobility in the pelvic area.

1. Sit down and prop yourself up with your elbows, keeping your chest open and back broad. Your torso will lean back diagonally. Extend your legs toward the ceiling, squeezing your thighs together. 

2. Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you do a full circle with your legs in a clockwise direction, returning to the starting position. Your hips will move with the legs circles. 

3. Repeat the circle counterclockwise. 4. Do 8–10 repetitions

Avoid sinking through your chest area and rounding your spine. Concentrate on engaging your pelvic floor and tranversus abdominal muscle, which wraps around your torso from the ribs to the pelvis. This will ensure you are working the correct muscles and protecting your lower back. 

Keep the circles small to start with and then gradually increase the size as you become more competent with the movement. 

For an advanced workout, instead of working with your elbows on the floor, hold yourself up with your hands. The difference is huge. Also, increase the repetitions for a higher-intensity workout. 

Oblique Roll-Back 

Epoch Times Photo

(Willis Lim/Brisbane Australia)

This exercise targets your obliques, the muscles that run up and down your sides.

1. Sit tall with your knees bent in front of you. Your legs are parallel, hip-width apart. Extend your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. 

2. Inhale as you tuck through your pelvis and lower back and start to recline into a C-shape position through your spine. As you are rolling back, open your right arm out to the side, with your line of sight following your hand. Keep your left arm in line with your left thigh instead of letting if follow the right arm. 

3. Simultaneously bring your arm back to front as you roll yourself back to the starting position. 

4. Repeat five times on the right side, five times on the left. Finish the set by alternating roll-backs on the right and left sides for another 6–10 times. 

Keep your back in a C-curve when you are reclined. If your back is straight, it can cause tension in your lower back. Pull your lower abdominals in as if you’re trying to loosen the elastic around your waist, to get the best ab connection.

Once you feel you have conquered this exercise, lift your feet a little bit off the floor to make it more challenging. Also recline back as deeply as you can to make the exercise really intense.

Hold the position while you’re reclined with one arm open to the side. Circle the outstretched arm 5–10 times clockwise, and then reverse. 

Plank

Epoch Times Photo

(Willis Lim/Brisbane Australia)

The plank strengthens the entire abdominal area and promotes shoulder stability.

1. Prop your body up on your elbows and toes.

2. Hold your body up and keep your back straight. Check in a mirror or with a friend to be sure you’re not sinking or curved.

3. Hold the position for one minute or until you can hold it longer. 

4. If it feels too difficult, work from your knees.

Focus on pulling in your lower abdominals. Imagine a corset is wrapping your entire mid section up. This will help you use your abs and not your back. If you feel any strain in your back, stop and rest. 

For a more advanced workout, lift one leg off the floor. 

Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With nine years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. Emma-Kate is based in Brisbane, Australia.