Abs: everyone wants ’em, but the vast majority of us don’t know how to build them. Boring old crunches have history and tradition behind them, but they just aren’t a very effective core exercise. There are better ways to exercise your core. Let me show you how it’s done!
Here are eight excellent movements mixed and matched into unique routines. Choose three routines to do each week. Put them into your regimen as you see fit, but make sure you leave a day between ab routines so you can recover!
Kettlebell Russian Twist
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your legs together. Hold a kettlebell in front of you by the horns with your elbows bent. Lift your feet off the floor and find your balance on your tailbone. Twist to the right and touch the kettlebell to the floor, then immediately twist to the left and repeat. Continue by alternating sides.
Tip: Make sure your abs, not your arms, are twisting your torso and the kettlebell side to side.
Stand with your feet shoulder-with apart and turn your left foot out. Hold the kettlebell in your right hand, straight up in the air over your shoulder. Place your left hand on the outside of your left thigh. Turn your head to look up toward the kettlebell.
Kick your right hip to the side, and then drop slowly down toward your left ankle, sliding your left hand down along the outside of your leg. Keep your right arm straight up and the kettlebell in the air. When you’ve gone as low as you can, reverse the movement and return to a standing position. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: Actively press the weight up toward the ceiling to engage your shoulder, back, chest, and inner abdominal muscles to hold it steady.
Cable Reverse Crunch
Attach an ankle strap to a cable and lower the pulley to the bottom of the machine. Sit in front of the machine with your legs together. Secure the ankle strap around both ankles, then lie back on the floor. Lift your legs over your hips, with knees bent 90 degrees. Extend your arms along your sides.
Lift your hips and bring your knees toward your head as far as you can. Keep your knees bent. Pause a moment at the top, then slowly uncurl to the start, resisting the pull of the machine on the return.
Tip: Use a lighter weight for this move, and focus on control and form.