Let’s face it sit-ups and crunches can really be boring and half the times you just end up straining your neck anyway. How about try something new that engages your entire body but still hits your ab muscles pretty hard?
“Focus on the deep breathing cues in each exercise to further activate the deep abdominal muscles and help reduce belly fat,” says Jessica Smith, a certified Pilates instructor and creator of the “Barre Fitness” DVD.
Try her daily routine to help improve your posture, strengthen and flatten your abs. Depending on your fitness level she recommends completing the full routine 1-3 times.
Begin with your feet placed wider than your hips. Turn your left leg and foot out to the side while extending your arms to shoulder level. Keep your abs drawn into spine. Inhale deeply through the nose and bend left knee about 90 degrees, bringing left forearm to thigh and reaching right arm by ear, looking up to ceiling.
Exhale fully (through the nose) as left arm extends up to ceiling, sliding right hand down right thigh and gazing up to left hand, stretching left side. Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.
Side Stretch Plié
Start with your feet wider than hips, knees and toes slightly turned out. Inhale deeply and extend arms straight overhead, lightly pressing fingertips together.
Bend knees out over toes, lowering hips to the floor as left arm lowers in front of body and right arm extends by ear. Lean your torso to the left to stretch through the right side and contract oblique’s on the left side. Do 20 reps, alternating sides each time.
Lie face up on the floor with legs extended as straight as possible above hips, toes pointed. Clasp hands together behind head and inhale, drawing belly button in deeper towards spine, lifting shoulders, head and neck off the floor and looking at legs.
As you exhale, twist through the upper body turning left shoulder towards right leg as right thigh reaches in closer to head and left leg lowers almost parallel to the ground. Do 20 reps, and alternate the sides.
Lower into a deep lunge position with left leg forward and right leg extended back straight with heel lifted, placing both hands on either side of front foot. Inhale deeply through the nose and sink hips toward the floor. On the exhale, slowly open left arm to the ceiling, turning chest to the left, gazing upwards look at your hand. Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.
From your rotating reach lunge position, take a deep breath in and lift chest above hips and extend arms overhead to ceiling, palms facing in.
On the exhale, shift weight into front foot, extending front leg, hinging forward from hips (so that chest is parallel to the floor) and engaging abdominals; flex back foot and lift leg in line with hip until body makes a straight line from heel to head (arms remain extended overhead). If this is too challenging, try placing hands on the seat of a chair for help balancing. Do 10 reps per side.