Bicycle Crunches: On your back, rotate in a double crunch movement, trying to get your opposite elbow to touch your opposite knee and then switch. As your knee comes towards your elbow, slightly lift your hips off the ground. When the leg/knee is moving away from the elbow, allow it to fully extend and hover above the ground so that it is constantly engaging your core while your other leg is working. Each leg counts as 1/2 of a rep. Each twist w/ leg extension should take you long enough to say “one one thousand” to yourself, no faster. Try to keep your shoulder blades off the ground.
Bridged Leg Lifts – Position yourself on your forearms and toes and make sure your body is in a straight, neutral alignment. Slowly engage your core by lifting one leg at a time, bringing your toe to touch the top of the stationary leg’s heel. Tap the heel, then bring the leg down and switch legs. Each leg counts as 1/2 of a rep. Keep your butt down.
Burpee: From a standing position, drop to the ground, jump your legs out into a full extension position (you will then be in plank or push-up position), jump your legs back in, then from a squat position, extend your arms over your head and jump towards the ceiling. If you want to make this more difficult, add a push-up.
Butt Kicks: From a standing position, jump both feet off the ground, but backwards so that the heels of your feet hit your butt each time.
Circle Crunches: Go up into a crunch position and move your upper body in a circular motion. If your circles start to the right, you will try to have your left elbow go out as far as your right knee, and then continue the circular motion all the way back to the centered position (as shown in the picture.) Do 8-12x in one direction, and then reverse your circle and do 8-12x in the other direction.
Circle Supermen: Lay on your stomach and raise your upper body and lower body off the ground. You can keep your hands by your ears, or fully extended in a straight arm position reaching in front of you; the closer your hands are to your body, the easier the exercise will be. Perform 8-12x large circular movements in one direction, and then switch to do 8-12x in the other direction. You are focusing on making a circle with your upper body, not your lower body.
Frog Hugs: Laying on your back, crunch your arms and legs up together and wrap your arms around your knees as if you were hugging yourself. Slowly extend both your arms and legs, shooting your arms out above your head (to be parallel to the floor) and your legs simultaneously, hold for 2 seconds and then go back to the hug position.
Half Up Twists / Russian Twist: Sit up, put your hands on top of your knees and then lean back until your arms are straight. Cross your arms in front of you (each hand holding an elbow) and start twisting from side to side. You should try to twist far enough so that the opposite elbow of the side that you are twisting to reaches the side of the opposite knee. (Example, as you twist to the right, your left elbow will rotate far enough to reach the outside of your right knee). Each side counts as 1/2 of a rep. If you want a more advanced option for this exercise, do this in a “butt balance” position, doing the same movement, but keeping your feet off the ground. You can also add a weighted medicine ball to make the exercise even more effective.
Heel Touches: Lay on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift your upper body and head slightly into a permanent crunch position and extend your arms out straight towards your feet. Rotate from side to side with your hands, reaching as far as you can towards each leg’s heel as if you’re trying to touch it. Each heel touch counts as 1/2 of a rep. Keep your shoulder blades off the ground, remember to breathe, and make sure your feet are far enough away from you that you have to really reach to touch the heel.
Hip Bridges: Lay on your back, with arms extended out alongside your body. Squeeze your glutes and lift up pressing through your heels into a 90 degree angle with your legs. Hold the bridge for a few seconds, then release and repeat.
Hip raises: Keep your legs straight and don’t let them rock back as your lift your hips. The less you rely on momentum for this exercise, the more effective it will be! Try to keep your arms out to the side with your palms up, which will prevent you from using your hands/arms to push you up. The slower you do this exercise, the more effective it will be. Do not rush these! The higher you get, the more you will feel it. If you’re looking for a more advanced option, then hold the lift at the top of the movement for 4-6 seconds each rep. You will definitely feel the burn.
Kettle Bell Side Dips: Follow the steps in the picture below, keeping the following things in mind: (1). Keep your hips stacked as much as possible (2). When pressing up and out of the side bend, focus on pressing the weight straight up above your head towards the ceiling (3) Even a small amount of weight will make this exercise effective (4). This is a slow-motion exercise, do not attempt to do it quickly (5). If you do not have a kettlebell, you can substitute with a dumbbell.
Knee Tuck Jumps: From a standing position, jump both feet off the ground in a tucking position. Extend your hand and arms straight in front of you and try to jump so high that your knees hit your extended arms.
Knee-up crunches / Reverse Crunches / Double Crunches – Focus on keeping the small of your back against the floor even throughout the range of motion. You can choose to isolate your upper body in a constant crunch while your knees move up and down, or you can move both the upper body and lower body at the same time for a double movement. Be sure keep your knees bent at a 90degree angle and keep your heels pointed down and toes up when your feet come down to strike the ground in between reps. The farther out you allow your heels to drop, the more effective the exercise will be for your lower abdomen region.
Leg Circles: Position yourself in a leg raise position while laying on your back. Keep your legs together and rotate them in a large, circular movement one-direction for 8-12x, and then switch to the other direction for 8-12x. The larger the circles, the better.
Modified Single Leg Lowers: Laying on your back, crunch your right elbow up to touch your left knee. Hold this position stationary for the entire time while your right leg does single leg reverse crunches. Once you complete 15 reps, switch positions so that your left elbow touches your right knee and then perform 15x single leg reverse crunches with your left leg.
Oblique crunches: Lay on your side, put one hand around your head and allow the other to rest on the side of your body. Stack your knees and keep them bent at 90degrees. Crunch up with both your upper body/head and your legs for a double crunch movement; you should feel your ribs pressing pinching into your side. Try not to fold forward, but rather bend up trying to get your elbow to touch your feet.
Oblique Leg Extensions: Stay in the same position as you were for the side plank dips and stay on the same side to maximize the fatigue that will be building up in that portion of your core. This exercise not only works your obliques, but should also engage your piriformis & hip flexor as well. Crunch up as in an oblique crunch; while doing the crunch, your top leg that is stacked will crunch up (trying to get your knee to elbow) and then extend out fully, staying raised above the other leg. Don’t let your leg touch the ground, and when the leg is fully extended your butt should be tightly squeezed rotating your leg out ever so slightly (this is the piriformis part).
Pushups – Keep your head raised and looking forward, and your body in a perfect horizontal plane. Your elbows should bend back, not out to the side. If you are not feeling your core muscles when you are doing pushups, then you are not doing pushups correctly. Also, try pushups on your knees; if your body is in perfect core alignment, then you will activate the core doing it this way as well
Reverse Leg Lowers: These are exactly like a leg lower, but in a reverse movement. Begin on your back, and slowly extend you legs to be elevated parallel to the ground. Next, raise them up together as if you are scooping something up with them until they are perpendicular with your body. Once you are in this 90degree position, tuck your knees in and begin the next movement. The single leg versions of these are exactly that…just doing the extension and scoop one leg at a time.
Side Leg Lifts: Laying on your side and keeping your legs straight and stacked upon one another, lift both legs up towards the ceiling and repeat.
Side Plank Dips – Keep your body in a straight line (one plane) and keep the movement smooth and slow. Try to keep your shoulders stacked perpendicular to the floor, keeping your hips stacked in the exact same plane as your shoulders. During the movement, your hips should just touch (but not rest on) the ground, and then they will raise back up. Essentially, you are doing small, sideways hip taps to the ground.
Side Plank Leg Raises– Keep your body in a straight line (one plane) and keep the movement smooth and slow. Try to keep your shoulders stacked perpendicular to the floor, keeping your hips stacked in the exact same plane as your shoulders. During the movement, your top leg will slightly raise and extend itself, and then it will lower back down. Essentially, you are doing small, single leg lifts while maintaining the side plank position.
Slow-Mo Bicycles: Crunch up your upper body and raise your legs. In a rotational movement, try to get your right elbow to touch your left knee and then switch (left elbow to right knee). In slow-mo bicycles, you will try to hold in that crunched position (with the non-crunching leg fully extended in a hold) for 3-5 seconds. The slower you do these, the more you will feel them!
Standard Crunch – Think about a string attached to your belly button & running through your body pulling your stomach towards the floor. Keep your eyes fixed on the ceiling and do not pull your neck. Keep your neck and upper body completely relaxed. If you want a more advanced option for this, hold the crunch at the top of the movement for 8-10 seconds on each rep. Another advanced option is to focus on the “negative” movement instead of the “positive” movement. This means that you will go up into a crunch over a 2 second period, but come down out of the crunch over a 6-8 second period.
Starfish Crunches – Start in an extended crunch position. Extend your legs, allowing them to hover an inch from the ground. In one movement, crunch legs, arms & head all up together and then unfold at the same time.
Step-Ups: Choose a bench (if you are at a gym) or a large step (if you are doing these at home), place your entire foot on the bench and press through the heel of your foot for the movement. Do all step-ups on your right leg before proceeding to the left leg. Try to do these quickly, they are meant to be a heart rate booster for you!
Supermans: Lay on your stomach, arms and legs extended. Raise up opposite leg and opposite arm at the same time, lifting your head and looking forward while you do it. Each side counts as 1/2 of a rep. Your stomach muscles should be engaged when you lift up. Think about your arm and leg not only being pulled up, but also out. Hold it at the top for 2 seconds, if you want a more advanced option, hold at the top of 6 seconds. If you really want to be a superman and work on your balance, do this exercise from a full plank stance (stationary pushup position) on your hands and toes.
Plank Hold w/Heel Taps: Position yourself on either your hands or elbows/forearms and go into a plank position with your body. Keep your core active by tucking in your abs and lowing your glutes to form a straight line with your body. While in plank position, lift one foot off the ground taping your toe to the heel of the other foot and repeat.
Plyo Box Jumps: Jump up onto a box or ledge, and step down.
Reverse Crunches – Focus on keeping the small of your back against the floor even throughout the range of motion. You can choose to isolate your upper body in a constant crunch while your knees move up and down, or you can move both the upper body and lower body at the same time for a double movement. Be sure keep your knees bent at a 90degree angle and keep your heels pointed down and toes up when your feet come down to strike the ground in between reps. The farther out you allow your heels to drop, the more effective the exercise will be for your lower abdomen region.
Windshield Wipers: Lay on your back, arms extended to the sides and your legs straight up. This is your starting position. Move your legs in a controlled movement all the way to one side, fully rotating at the core. Activate your core muscles to pull the leg back up together in a controlled manner back to the center point and then begin the movement on the other side. Beginners will have their legs at more of an angle and will not lower them quite as far. Intermediates, try having your legs at a 90degree angle from your body and lower the legs to the ground on each windshield wiper movement. Advanced, incorporate an extra hip raise in between each wiper.