You can do crunches ’til the cows come home, but it won’t do much for your waistline. That’s because crunches only challenge a limited portion of the abdominal wall. In order to sculpt washboard abs, you need to train all muscles of the core—from the obliques to the lower back to the lower abs. This challenging crunch-free workout, designed by Kelly Lee, a trainer for Grokker.com, will help you score flatter abs in no time.
MOVE 1: Side Jackknife
Step 1: Lay on your right side with your legs extended and the left leg stacked on top of the right. Make sure that your hips, knees and feet are stacked. There are a few options for the placement of your right hand; extended in front, behind your head or on abdominals. Place your left hand gently behind your head.
Step 2: Raise your legs straight in the air while simultaneously raising your torso, bringing your left elbow toward your left hip. Focus on the quality of the contraction and bringing the elbow toward the hip without pulling on your neck or using your legs.
Step 3: Hold for a moment and then return to the starting position. Repeat for 10-20 reps and then switch sides.
MOVE 2: Side plank with foot taps
Step 1: Lay on your right side with your legs extended and hips, knees and feet are stacked. Prop your upper body up on your right elbow and forearm. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders.
Step 2: Squeeze your glutes and raise left leg. Tap the left toe on the ground behind you, pause over right leg, and tap toe in front.
Repeat (back tap, center pause, front tap) for 3-10 reps and then switch sides.
MOVE 3: Plank with oblique hip drop
Step 1: Get down on your forearms and feet so you are in plank position. Be sure to position your body into a straight line so that it is parallel to the ground.
Step 2: Rotate at the waist and rotate your hips to the right, dipping it toward the ground. Rotate back to starting position, then to the left and touch your left hip toward the ground. Alternate back and forth for the desired amount of repetitions.
Repeat 5-10 times (right and left hip drop = 1 rep).
MOVE 4: Leg lift
Step 1: Lay flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you. If you feel uncomfortable, try laying on carpet or on a yoga mat. If you have back problems, fold a towel and put it under the curve of your back, just above your hips. Beginners, please keep your hands flat down on the ground.
Step 2: Straighten your legs so that they are pointed at the ceiling, keeping your toes pointed. Slowly lower your legs so they float a few inches off the ground or to your furthest/safest point. Don’t just let gravity work for your – make sure you’re in control. If the exercise feels too easy, try to lower more slowly and really squeeze those lower abdominals.
Step 3: Slowly raise your legs back up to the ceiling. Repeat for 10-20 reps.
NOTE: To make the exercise easier-try table top position (knees bent at 90 degrees with knees over hips and shins parallel) instead of legs extended. To make the exercise more difficult-try adding slow negative to your set and maybe a pause at the bottom if you are feeling really strong. Try starting with a 3-4 count slow negative and a 2-3 count hold at the bottom of the movement.