Quick Abs Workout - Killer Ball Exercises
By Courtney Virden
You don't have to do crunches to get toned, sexy abs. I haven't done them in 20 years, so I wanted to share three exercises that will strengthen your abdominal muscles, improve your posture, and create a sleeker torso and flat stomach, all while boosting your confidence. Crunches, reverse crunches, side planks, and front planks are what most think of to get six-pack muscles. Though they can cause a lot of strain on your back and can lead to disk damage for some. You want to strengthen your torso and the muscles supporting your spine, not leave it vulnerable to injury. This is done by engaging in moves that activate your deep abdominal muscles and other core muscles.
Functional ab workouts provide you with ultimate core strength, including the pelvic floor. When you do pelvic floor training, ab exercises are built in. Sometimes though, there is nothing better than the feeling of a tough abs workout. The move below helps your abs pull in toward the spine to protect it to give you that flat stomach. It is a lower abs workout, deep abdominal workout, and upper abs workout at home in one.
Killer Abs Workout
A killer abs workout for women, and men, will keep your core engaged. Keep in mind the best abs workouts for women can be different for men if they have diastasis recti. If you are a woman with diastasis recti (separated rectus abdominis), then those and many other exercises will worsen your pooch! You will need a specific postpartum ab workout which includes pelvic floor therapy. If you don't, women's ab workouts can be the same as a man's.
I love a quick workout and a killer ab workout in one. The moves below can also be done with your hand on the flat side of a Bosu to make it even more intense. That is significantly more advanced, though. For most, those advancements come with time if wanted. You want strong abs, you want them functional but not distended. When you exercise, pay attention to whether your abs are pulling in towards your spine or pushing away from it. Our abdominals support our spine and are part of our core, and if they are distended, our core strength and function are compromised.
If you enjoy workouts with maximum results and minimal time, this routine (video below) is for you. Add the three moves to add to your fitness rotation for defined abs without the crunches below.
Exercise Ball Ab Workout Routine:
- Cannonball Drop
- Plank Knee to Chest with Optional Push-Up
- Feet on Wall Twist
THE MOVE: CANNONBALL DROP
How to: First, start behind a stability ball and roll forward by walking your hands on the floor until your knees are in the middle of the ball, your legs extended, and your hands are under your shoulders. Then bring your knees toward your chest, relax, and drop your head. You will drop down onto your left side hip, lift your hips up, and drop to the right side hip, keeping your knees in toward your chest the whole time. Repeat back and forth. This is a challenging exercise, and you can do little drops until you are strong enough to drop your hip onto the ball entirely. Keep the knees close, and don't let them escape your chest.
THE MOVE: PLANK KNEE TO CHEST WITH OPTIONAL PUSH-UP
How to: First, start behind the ball and roll forward by walking your hands on the floor until your knees are in the middle of the ball and your hands are under your shoulders. (You can go all the way until just your feet are on the ball, yet keep in mind the farther forward you go, the more advanced and unstable this becomes.) Then you will lift one leg off the ball and bring your knee toward your shoulder. You can add a push-up, and as your knee is as far toward your shoulder as possible, you will be at the bottom of your push-up. Repeat all your repetitions on one side, then return to starting position and switch. Alternate legs if needed to make the exercises easier.
Note: if this exercise is too challenging with the instability of the ball, you can do it with your feet on a stationary object and then advance to the ball when you are ready. The bonus is it is also a killer upper-body exercise and a shoulder and abs workout.
THE MOVE: FEET ON THE WALL TWIST
How to: First, sit on the top front of the ball with your feet on the wall and broader than hip-distance apart. Holding this position, sit up tall and do a slight pelvic tilt so your lower abs are drawn in, and the ball supports your lower back. You will then pass the ball back and forth, left hand to right hand, using the muscles under the shoulder blades. Keep your right and left knees bent in a fixed position with arms extended and elbows straight.
Note: Be mindful not to let your abs pooch out and not to straighten and bend your knees, which rolls the ball. You will keep them in a relatively fixed position, and the movement is from your waist.
Functional Ab Workouts Are the Best
The term functional training is gaining in terms of popularity, and with good reason. When I train, I don't do it to burn calories or to strengthen or tone a specific body part. I workout to move well and fix any imbalances my body has. So abdominal exercises should focus on creating a solid foundation and one that is functional.