It’s a truth virtually any woman of a certain age can attest to: Once you leave your 30s behind, it’s just not as easy to keep your tummy toned. So ab workouts for women of a certain age have to be adapted to best work with your changing body. That’s why we asked Leigh Crews, 2011 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, to come up with this waist-whittling ab workout for women over 40. This routine combines both strength moves to build your core muscles and cardio bursts to burn extra calories and help you shed the fat covering those muscles. Warm up for 5 minutes with some light jogging or marching in place, then go through the entire sequence three times. Bonus: Although this is designed as an ab workout for women, these moves target other muscle groups as well, giving you an all-over workout in just 30 minutes.
1. Single Leg Lunge with Overhead Press
Stand with your left knee slightly bent. Rest the top of your right foot on a stability ball behind you with your right knee bent to 90 degrees. Hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest, arms straight. Hinge forward from the hips, reaching down as if you were going to place the weight on the floor a few inches in front of your left foot (A). Unhinge, returning to previous position, then press the dumbbell up toward the ceiling (B); return to previous position. That’s one rep; do 12 to 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
2. Do jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
3. Side Plank with Rear Delt Raise and Hip Drop
Lie on your right side with right arm bent, elbow directly under your shoulder, legs stacked or with bottom knee bent and top leg straight; grasp a dumbbell on the floor in front of you with your left hand. Raise your hips off the floor to come into side plank (A). Raise the weight straight up toward the ceiling (B), then slowly drop your right hip to the floor. Lift back up into side plank and lower your arm; that’s one rep. Do 10 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
4. Do fast feet (running in place as quickly as you can) for 30 seconds.
5. Ball Bridge with Single Arm Chest Fly
Lie with your head, neck, and shoulders on a stability ball; knees should be bent with both feet on the floor so your body forms a straight line from head to knees. (Move feet farther apart to make the exercise easier, or closer together to make it harder.) With a dumbbell in your right hand only, extend both arms straight up toward the ceiling (A). Keeping your left arm raised, slowly lower the dumbbell out to the right until it’s level with your shoulder (B), then raise it back up to previous position. Do 15 reps, then switch hands and repeat.
6. Do jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
7. Multi-Planar Reach
Stand with feet shoulder-width, a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended by your sides. Raise your right arm forward to shoulder level, then lower it and repeat with the left arm (A). Raise your right arm out to the side (B), lower it, and repeat with the left arm. Imagine you are surrounded by a large bubble; continue to lift your arms (alternating sides) in all directions, trying to touch the hand weight to all points inside the bubble (C, D). Continue for one minute.
8. Do fast feet for 30 seconds.
9. Ball Leg Drop with Hamstring Stretch
Lie on your back with legs extended toward the ceiling, feet flexed, a stability ball between your calves, arms out to the sides for balance. (Need support for your back? Place hands under your hips.) Keeping your abs engaged throughout the move, slowly lower your legs toward the floor (B); stop when you feel your back begin to arch, then return to previous position. Rotate the ball with your legs until you feel a stretch in your front hamstring (B), then reverse, rotating in the opposite direction; that’s one rep. Do 10 reps.
10. Do jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
Learn more about Leigh at LeighCrews.com, and follow her on Facebook at Leigh Crews and on Twitter at @leigh.crews.