This article is the first in a series of articles entitled Mirror Friendly Summer Body Series. Each article in the series will feature a variety of exercise moves that focus on a particular muscle group to help get your body ready for summer.
This first article focuses on the abdominal muscles and has been co-written by myself and Tanya. We started with abs because we know that warm summer weather means bathing suit season and we want to help you flaunt a Mirror Friendly body.
The abdominals consist of the lower and upper rectus abdominals (often referred to as the “sixpack”), the obliques (the sides of the abdomen), and the transverse abdominals or core muscles (deep abdominal muscles that lie beneath the rectus abdominals). The exercises myself and Tanya feature in this article will cover all of these. It is important to ensure you are strengthening all of them as opposed to focusing on just one particular group to create a stronger more balanced midsection.
Give this workout a try to shake things up a bit and kick start your Awesome Abs! Do bear in mind, however, that you need to combine both exercise and proper nutrition to get those abs! Doing these exercises all day long won’t give you a sixpack if you’re not eating healthy (refer to Tanya’s article ‘How Do I Lose My Gut’).
The Awesome Abs Workout:
This workout consists of a circuit of 4 exercises; 1 for each of the 4 abdominal parts. Below you will be able to choose either my pick or Tanya’s pick for each of the 4 exercises. To complete the circuit perform the 4 exercises back-to-back (with no rest between each of the 4 exercises). We perform this circuit for 3 times with 1-2 minutes rest between every set.
We do our ab workouts 3 times a week after we work another muscle group or after cardio. You have a variety of different ab moves to select from so perhaps you’ll find something new to try.
1) LOWER ABS
Captain’s Chair Leg Raises – this requires you to get yourself into a seated position on a captain’s chair (as shown below) with your arms at a right angle. Press your back against the pad and keep the shoulders relaxed. Contract the abs and exhale while slowly lifting your straight legs together up to hip level (in doing so do not to arch the back or swing the legs up). Slowly lower legs back down while inhaling. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions depending on the strength and stamina of your midsection. If you find this too hard, you can instead bend your knees and lift your knees to hip level.
Pike Crunches – Start off in a plank position with your toes on a stability ball. Contract your abs as you pull your legs closer into your body and your hips in the air to form a V shape. Perform this move 12-15 times. Need to dial it down a notch? You can still perform the same move but pull your knees in towards your stomach instead.
B) UPPER ABS
Knee to Chest Crunches – Lie flat on your back with arms behind your ears, knees bent, feet crossed and slightly held off the ground. Exhale while lifting your back off the floor and bringing your knees towards your rising chest in a slow controlled movement. Once your knees reach your chest (or almost) at the midpoint gradually return back to your starting position while inhaling. Perform this move 12 to 15 times. Should you find this too hard you can keep your back flat on the floor and exhale as you bring your knees in towards your chest until your hips lift off the floor.
Crab Abs – This move also works your lower abs and a number of other muscles apart from your upper abs. Lie face up on the floor and position yourself like a bridge with your hands and feet firmly planted on the floor, fingers and toes facing forward. Stabilize yourself, then lift your left (or right) leg and touch your toes with the opposite hand (so if you lifted left then touch your left toes with your right hand). Do this for 1 minute.
Russian Torso Twist – Get into a sit-up position with your knees bent and feet slightly off the floor (cross feet if more comfortable). Lean back as far as you can until you feel your abs tighten. Holding a medicine ball (or a basketball) in front of you, twist your torso to the left and tap the ball on the floor to the left of your hips. Slowly return to the initial position and perform the same to the right side of your hips. In doing so make sure you keep your limbs as steady as possible to minimise swinging and maximise the resistance on your obliques. An easier version of this exercise allows keeping your heels on the floor. Repeat this sequence for 20 times (10 times on each side).
Side Plank – This is just a variation of the front plank which itself works your transverse abdominals (also known as core muscles). On the other hand the side plank is excellent for working your obliques. Lying on your side with your legs straight out so you are forming a straight line with your body, raise your torso off the ground but keep the side of your foot on the mat with your other foot stacked on top. You should be resting on your elbow and it should for a 90 degree angle under your shoulder. Engage your oblique muscles to keep your hips up. Hold this position for 1 minute then switch sides.
4) TRANSVERSE ABDOMINALS (also known as core muscles)
Ab Rollout – Hold the Ab Roller with both hands and kneel on the floor. You can choose whether to cross your feet at the back or not. Place the ab roller on the floor in front of you so that you are on all your hands and knees (as in a kneeling push up position). While breathing in slowly roll the ab roller straight forward, stretching your body into a straight position, stopping a few inches off the floor. After a pause at the stretched position, start pulling yourself back to the starting position as you breathe out. It is very important to perform this exercise in a slow controlled manner while keeping your abs tight at all times.
Mountain Climber – Tanya loves the mountain climber (in a “I hate it” sort of way) because it is a full-body exercise that engages many muscles to assist your transverse abdominals in keeping your body stabilized. Not only does it work your abdominals; the mountain climber also work your glutes, calves, back and arms while also serving as a wicked cardio workout.
Starting out in a plank position, bring one knee into your chest, then quickly switch to the other leg. You want to switch up your legs quickly like you are running on the spot and really bring that knee into your chest engaging your core. A variation Tanya likes is rather than bringing the knee into her chest, she crosses her opposite knee to the opposite elbow in order to engage her obliques a little bit more. Try this slight variation and you will feel the difference.
So there you have it 🙂 Enjoy the Mirror Friendly Awesome Abs workout and please do share some of your ab workouts with us!
To fitness with love,
Andrew and Tanya