Engage your core

Ab Workouts

There is no doubt that ab exercises are effective and important for your health. 

However, the most popular ab workouts people do are sit-ups and crunches. These exercises can cause excessive flexing of the spine, especially if there are too many repetitions. Excessive flexing of the spine can cause compression of your spinal discs, causing them to bulge and press on nerves. This can lead to back pain or more serious medical conditions.  Switch up your routine by trying these ab workouts below.

Ab Ball Pass

Step 1: To begin the ab ball pass, lie face up on the floor holding a stability ball overhead with both hands, your legs together and extended straight on the floor.

Step 2: In one motion, brace your core and lift your arms and legs off the ground, placing the ball between your feet.

Step 3: Squeeze the ball with your legs and lower your arms and legs back to the floor.

Step 4: Repeat, passing the ball back to your hands. That's one rep.  Do this for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.





Ab Ball Roll outs

 Step 1: To begin ab ball roll outs, get down on your knees and place your fists on top of an exercise ball. Elbows should be bent 90 degrees and your lower back should be naturally arched. This is the starting position.

Step 2: Begin exercise by slowly rolling the ball forward with your fists as your arms and body straighten out. Extend your body as far as you can while keeping your hips in line with the rest of your body.

Step 3: Hold this position for a brief moment, then slowly reverse movement back to starting position. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.



Bench in and outs

Step 1: To begin bench in and outs, Sit on a flat bench with your legs off the end

Step 2: Place your hands behind you, grasping the edge of the bench with each hand

Step 3: Extend your legs straight out and lean your back at a 45 degree angle

Step 4: Bring your knees in toward your midsection, making sure that your abs are doing the work in a slow and controlled fashion

Step 5: Return to the starting position

Step 6: Complete 3-4 sets of 10-20 repetitions






Step 1: To begin bicycles, lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and  knees bent. Your feet should be on the floor and your hands are behind your head.

Step 2: Contract your core muscles, drawing in your abdomen to stabilize your spine.

Step 3: With your hands gently holding your head, pull your shoulder blades back and slowly raise your knees to about a 90-degree angle, lifting your feet from the floor.

Step 4: Exhale and slowly, at first, go through a bicycle pedal motion, bringing one knee up towards your armpit while straightening the other leg, keeping both elevated higher than your hips.

Step 5: Rotate your torso so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions on each side.



Bird Dogs

Step 1: To begin bird dogs, kneel on the floor, knees hip-width apart, with your hands firmly placed on the ground about shoulder-width apart. Brace the abdominals.

Step 2: First, practice lifting one hand and the opposite knee just an inch or two off the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee and keeping your weight centered.

Step 3: When you feel steady and ready to move on to full range of motion, point the arm out straight in front and extend the opposite leg behind you. You should form one straight line from your hand to your foot, hips squared to the ground. However, if your low back begins to sag, raise your leg only as high as you can while keeping your back straight.

Step 4: Return to the starting position and complete 3-4 sets of 10 reps on each side. You can add a light -weight in your hand when you become comfortable with this exercise.



Flutter Kicks

Step 1: To begin flutter kicks, start by lying flat on your back on a mat with your arms by your sides or under your glutes with your palms down.

Step 2: Extend your legs fully out with a slight bend in your knees

Step 3: Lift your heels about 6 inches off the floor. Make a small, rapid up and down scissor-like motions with your legs.

Step 4: The key is to focus on having your midsection do all the work and to keep your abs constantly contracted throughout the exercise.



Hanging Knee Raises

The hanging knee raise is a core strengthening exercise that targets the lower abdominals, hip flexors, and lower back. This exercise will also increase stability in the upper back and shoulders.

Step 1: Dead hang from a pull-up bar or Roman chair with a grip that's comfortable, with your arms and legs fully extended, and feet off the ground.

Step 2:Raise your knees up into one side, going about 90 degrees at the hip. Avoid any swinging, performing the exercise with control.

Step 3: Return to the starting position and then perform the movement to the other side. Continue alternating until the set in complete.

Step 4: Repeat as many times as you can.



Leg Raises

Step 1: To begin leg raises, lie face up on a mat, and raise your upper legs until they’re perpendicular to the floor. Bend your knees slightly

Step 2: Without changing the arch in your lower back or the angle of your knees, brace your core and try to take 3 to 5 seconds to lower your feet as close to the floor as you can

Step 3: Complete 3-4 sets of 10-20 reps



Mountain Climbers

Step 1: Start in a plank position with arms and legs long. Beginning in a solid plank is the key to proper form and good results in the Mountain Climber. At its heart, the Mountain Climber is a form of plank. Keep your abs pulled in and your body straight. Squeeze your glutes and pull your shoulders away from your ears

Step 2: Pull your right knee into your chest.  As the knee draws to the chest, pull your abs in even tighter to be sure your body doesn’t sag or come out of its plank position.

Step 3: Quickly switch and pull the left knee in. At the same time you push your right leg back, pull your left knee in to the chest using the same form.

Step 4: Continue to switch knees. Pull the knees in right, left, right, left—always switching simultaneously so that you are using a “running” motion. As you begin to move more quickly be in constant awareness of your body position and be sure to keep a straight line in your spine and don’t let your head droop. Core body stability is crucial.

Step 5: Try doing 4 sets of 30 second Mountain Climbers



Roman Chair Leg Raise

Step 1: Position yourself in an upright roman chair. Be sure your back is upright and against the back of the chair. Also, be sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders

Step 2: Begin exercise by slowly raising your legs up until they are parallel to the ground, while keeping them as straight as possible.

Step 3: Slowly lower legs back down to the starting position. Be sure you lower your legs all the way back down before raising them back up. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.




Tuck Jump in and out to side oblique crunch

 Step 1: Grab a heavy dumbbell that will hold your weight without moving.

Step 2: Start to get in a high plank position, hands holding the sides of the dumbbell.

Step 3: Bend your knees and jump your feet towards your hands, landing in a            crouch on the balls of your feet.

Step 4: Jump up and extend your legs back out to your plank position.

Step 5: Bend one leg and bring the knee toward your shoulder on the same side, crunching your oblique as you do so. Keep the upper body stationary throughout the movement. Pause and return the leg to your starting position.

Step 6: Repeat on the opposite side. Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions on each side.