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A 15-minute workout for your abs

I know I said Goodbye Belly Flab – but as with most things in life, flab is one of those things you actually have to work to get rid of.

So – let’s just dwell a little more on those abs and then we’ll move on to the next thing in the Health is Wealth series.  There are few things better than a shapely abdomen. Here are easy and quick workouts that will not only tone, but also strengthen your abdominal muscles.

Begin with the warm-up – the Cat-Camel. After the warm-up, do each exercise once; work your way up to two sets. Finish with the cool-down.

Warm up with Cat-Camel

Go down on all fours, palms on the floor in line with your shoulders and knees aligned with the hips. (See picture). Exhale. Contract ab muscles and curve your spine towards the ceiling (See picture). Now tuck your chin in gently and hold for 10-15 seconds. Then, exhale. Arch your lower back towards the floor, drawing your chest and head upward. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Come back to the starting position.

Repeat 5-8 times.

That’s for warming up. Now begin with the main exercises. (Shhh- they are all easy exercises. Do a few or do them all).
Exercise 1: Bird-dog

Never feel envious about six-packs on someone else, because yours are going to be all nicely toned up soon. Get down on all fours, tighten abdominal muscles with spine and neck in normal position, looking down at the floor. (See picture). Now, extend left leg behind you while stretching right arm forward (See picture).  With hips and shoulders square (back = no arching)  hold this position for 5 seconds. Come back to the starting position and repeat with right leg and left arm. Repeat the exercise 5-10 times for each side.

Exercise 2: Stability-Ball Crunch

This one is fun as it strengthens your abs and obliques while you sit on the stability ball with feet flat on the floor. (See picture). Now – with back resting on the ball, thighs parallel to the floor, walk your feet forward. Cross arms over chest and tuck chin in. (See picture). Contract those abs and exhale, raising torso 45 degrees. Pause. Lower as you inhale. Feel wobbly? Move feet farther apart.  Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Exercise 3: Front Plank

Great to see you’re still reading! 🙂 So now: lie on stomach, arms bent, palms and forearms flat on ground, fingers pointing forwards, legs fully extended, toes tucked under. (See picture) Work the back and abs by contracting your core muscles, slowly raising your torso off the ground, with palms, forearms and toes on the ground. (See picture) Hey – don’t arch your lower back or shrug shoulders. Hold for 10-30 seconds.  Repeat.

Exercise 4: Bicycle

This one is simpler than it seems. Lie on back, fingers behind head, legs raised at right angles to the body, knees towards chest . (See picture). Now, focus on your sides and the whole ab area, contracting as you raise your shoulder blades off the floor. Right light straight at 45 degrees to the floor, raise your upper body off the floor towards the left, with your right elbow close to the left knee. Back to the earlier position. Do this for the opposite side, straighten left leg, bending right leg, bringing left elbow to right knee. As you repeat, it will seem like you are bicycling. Repeat 8-12 full reps.

Exercise 5: Side Plank

Position your body to rest on the right side, legs extended, feet and hips resting on the floor, like in the picture above. You can choose to do this one with the help of ab belts. Rest right elbow under shoulder, propping up your torso, aligning head with spine. Contract your core and lift knees and hips off the floor. This strengthens your sides and deep ab muscles (See picture). Hold for 10-30 seconds, increasing gradually up to a minute and come back to the starting position. Repeat with the left side.

Cool-down with Cobra


Time to cool down. Lie on your stomach, hands under shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Lengthen your neck. (Yes, you can). Exhale, lift chest and torso upward, stretching abs. (See picture). Press hips into floor. Breathing evenly, hold 15-30 seconds. Lower your back and return to the original position.

I am grateful to Real Simple for the reference of these fab abs exercises.

Until tomorrow!

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Cheers!

Vidya

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