Read an Excerpt
101 Workouts for Women
By Muscle & Fitness Hers, Cory Sorensen, Roni Ramos, Per Bernal, Jim Purdum, Ian Logan, Robert Reiff
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2007 Weider Publications, LLC
All rights reserved.
We crave them, we obsess about them and we're constantly holding them in. We're talking about abs, of course. With a solid diet plan and the workouts in this chapter, you too can achieve a head-turning midsection.
GETTING STARTED | Your abs are one of the easiest bodyparts to train at home, and this top-to-bottom routine takes only 15 minutes to complete. Perform each of the exercises 3-4 days a week, periodically swapping out these moves for other favorites.
Lie faceup with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, or bend your knees and bring your feet up in the air. Be sure your lower back is pressed firmly into the floor. Touch your hands behind your head and curl your upper chest toward your hips, lifting your shoulder blades off the floor. For a more advanced move, lift your feet and curl your knees toward your chest as you crunch your torso up. Squeeze your abs before lowering back to the start.
Begin by lying faceup on the floor. Bend your knees, lift your legs 90 degrees from your hips and place your hands under your lower back. Contract through your lower abs to slowly curl your pelvis off the floor and toward your ribcage, holding for a moment at the top. Slowly lower your legs and hips back to the start position.
Start in the same position as the crunch. Support your head by placing your hands lightly behind it, then lift your head and shoulder blades off the floor. Hold this position and crunch to your right side to work your obliques, thinking of bringing your right elbow to your right hip while keeping your lower back pressed firmly against the floor. Repeat to the left side. Your abs will perform an isometric contraction as you hold your head and shoulder blades off the floor, putting the muscular stress on the obliques.
GETTING STARTED | Get your heart rate up and melt the flab that's covering your abs with this routine. Perform the exercises one right after the other, moving quickly from one to the next. This continuous movement will keep your body warm and working hard.
Lie back on an exercise ball so your torso is parallel to the floor, feet hip-width apart and knees bent 90 degrees. Press your lower back into the ball and place your hands lightly behind your head. Lift your shoulders while keeping your hips stationary. Squeeze your abs briefly at the top, then slowly return to the start position and repeat without bouncing or pausing. Be sure you crunch by flexing your spine, not your hips.
Exercise-Ball Oblique Crunch
Lie back on an exercise ball, torso parallel to the floor, hands lightly behind your head. Lift your shoulders by contracting your abs, then twist your torso to aim your left shoulder toward your right knee. Hold briefly, return to the neutral crunched position, then slowly return to the start position. Alternate reps to each side.
Attach either a close-grip handle or a rope to a high-pulley cable. Facing the weight stack, step back 2-3 feet and kneel down, taking a firm grip with both hands in front of you and leaning forward slightly. Keep your lower body stationary as you contract your abs and aim your elbows toward your knees to curl your torso toward the floor. Squeeze your abs briefly, then slowly return to the start position.
Lie faceup on the floor with your knees and hips bent 90 degrees. Place your hands down by your sides and extend your legs straight out at about a 45-degree angle. Hold this position for a count, then slowly return to the start. Repeat for reps without letting your feet touch the floor.
GETTING STARTED | Most of us know exactly when we last did crunches, but when was the last time you worked your lower back? Training one but not the other leads to an imbalance, which you may not even recognize because your body adapts to these changes over time.
Lie facedown on the floor, resting on your elbows with your arms tight by your sides and palms facing up. Place your left toes on top of your right heel. Using your abdominal and back muscles, push through your hips to lift your torso off the floor. Hold this position for as long as you can (at least a minute) before returning to the start. Switch foot position and repeat.
Lie faceup with your arms down by your sides, knees bent and feet on the floor. Simultaneously lift your knees toward your chest and crunch your upper body forward. Lower back to the start, keeping your heels and shoulder blades off the floor. Focus your eyes above your knees to keep your chin off your chest.
Lie facedown on the floor with your arms extended out in front, elbows slightly bent. Using your lower-back muscles, lift your chest off the floor, keeping your neck and arms in line with your spine. Avoid lifting your legs and chest simultaneously; this can put too much pressure on the discs in your back.
GETTING STARTED | With ab training, it's the negative that counts — the negative or eccentric contraction, that is. Perform each movement in two parts, holding the top position for one count and moving slowly through the negative rep to return to the start in two counts.
Sit upright on the bench with your feet under the rollers, keeping your feet and lower legs relaxed. Place your hands lightly behind your head, which increases the resistance against which your abs will move. Lower yourself slowly and under control, holding your abs tight throughout. Think about making your torso as long as possible throughout the negative rep. At the bottom, keep your abs tight as you begin to shift direction. Curl up until you're just short of vertical, using the strength of your abs rather than leverage against the footpad.
Lie faceup on a flat bench, grasping its edges alongside your head. Start with your legs straight and elevated at about a 90-degree angle. Using a moderate pace, contract your abs to raise your hips off the bench about 2-3 inches. Lower slowly and go straight into the next rep.
Lie faceup on the floor, cross one foot over the opposite knee and place both hands lightly behind your head. Curl up using the strength of your abs to lift your shoulder blades off the floor, then twist your torso to bring one shoulder as far as possible toward the opposite knee. Lower slowly, keeping your abs tight on the return. Alternate reps to each side.
GETTING STARTED | The exercise ball or stability ball is a great tool for training abs. Performing these common core exercises on a ball recruits and fatigues more muscle fibers to help you keep your balance, with the added benefit of firming your entire midsection.
Exercise-Ball Back Extension
Stand facing away from a wall in front of an exercise ball. Lie facedown over the ball so your midsection is fully supported. With your feet against the wall, hands lightly behind your head and abs tight throughout, slowly raise your torso to a comfortable position before returning to the start.
Exercise-Ball Oblique Crunch
Lie faceup over an exercise ball, finding a position in which the ball comfortably supports your low back. Tuck your chin in slightly, focusing your eyes at a 45-degree angle — roughly the point at which ceiling meets wall. Keeping your abs contracted throughout, slowly crunch your ribcage in a diagonal direction, moving one shoulder toward the opposite hip. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Exercise-Ball Lateral Abdominal Flexion
Lie sideways over an exercise ball with your legs extended out to the side, feet against the wall. Keeping your abs contracted and your hands lightly behind your head, slowly crunch up sideways, making sure not to simultaneously flex your torso forward or backward. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
GETTING STARTED | When it comes to getting a drum-tight midsection, it's important to work both the six-pack muscles — the upper and lower abs — and the oblique muscles along each side. This workout does just that with exercises that target each region.
Kneel facing a cable station with a rope handle attached to the upper-pulley cable. Place the rope behind your head and hold the ends near your collarbones; lean forward slightly. Crunch down, aiming your forehead toward the floor while keeping your lower body and arms stationary.
Lie faceup on the floor with your legs straight up in the air, perpendicular to your torso. Extend your arms toward your feet and reach for your toes as you crunch up to raise your shoulders off the floor. Contract your abs tighter at the top, then reverse the motion, ut don't go all the way back down.
Decline Twist Crunch
Set a decline bench to 30-35 degrees and secure your feet under the rollers. With your knees bent 90 degrees and your hands lightly supporting your head, lie back slowly. Crunch back up, aiming your right shoulder toward your left hip. Complete all reps for one side, then switch sides.
Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent, feet up off the floor and hands lightly behind your head. Crunch up and aim your left shoulder toward your right knee while pulling that knee in. Alternate from side to side, keeping the motion smooth and controlled.
GETTING STARTED | If you've worked to whittle your middle but have little muscle to show for it, the time has come. This routine will overload your ab muscles using high reps. Paired with a lean diet and cardio, you can turn your tummy into a trophy of dedication.
Decline Weighted Twist
This exercise will stimulate your entire core. Grasp a weight plate or a medicine ball and sit upright on a decline bench, feet secured. Lean back until your torso is perpendicular to the bench (A). Holding the weight/ball out in front of your body, gently twist to the right (B) and then to the left (C). This exercise is great for the oblique muscles, which don't follow a straight line between origin and insertion but instead wrap around the torso.
Lying Cable Crunch
Lie faceup on the floor with your head roughly a foot in front of and facing away from the weight stack of a cable station, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grasp the rope attached to the low-pulley cable and bring your hands above your collarbones; your head will be inside the V of the rope. Perform a standard crunch, bringing your head and shoulders off the floor. Squeeze at the top of the movement and slowly return to the start. Try not to let the weight touch the stack, and keep your hands close to your body throughout the set.
Lie faceup on the floor with your legs straight, heels about 6 inches off the floor (A). Separate your legs as far apart as possible (B) and then bring them back together, but don't cross them. With your feet together, bend your knees and bring them into your chest while crunching up with your upper body (C). In sequence: heels up, legs apart, legs together, double crunch, then repeat. Try not to let your heels or legs touch the floor.
GETTING STARTED | If you have the exercises from Workout 6 down pat, it's time to kick it up a notch by building on that base. The basic crunch is made more difficult by straightening your arms overhead, and the cable crunch is modified to target the obliques.
Hanging Leg Raise
Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms and legs fully extended. Without using momentum, contract your abs and raise your legs straight out in front of you till they're parallel to the floor. Return to the start position slowly and under control. Avoid swinging.
Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your hands overhead and lay one hand on top of the other. Keeping your arms extended, crunch up, lifting your shoulders off the floor. Squeeze your abs at the top, then lower slowly without going all the way down.
Cable Crossover Crunch
Kneel facing a cable station with a rope handle attached to the upper-pulley cable. Hold the ends near your collarbones and lean slightly forward. Crunch down against the resistance, aiming your left shoulder toward your right hip while keeping your lower body stationary. Alternate reps from side to side.
Hanging Knee Raise to the Side
Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms and legs fully extended. Without using momentum, contract your abs and obliques and raise your knees to your right side as high as you can. Return to the start position slowly and under control, and alternate reps from side to side.
GETTING STARTED | The exercises in this routine target the stabilizing muscles in your low back and abs, conditioning your midsection while reducing your risk of developing back pain. Not only will you strengthen your core but you'll also stand a bit taller.
Exercise-Ball Opposite Arm/Leg Lift
Lie facedown on an exercise ball so your midsection is fully supported. Place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders; position your feet so they also touch the floor. Keep your abs contracted. Without moving your back and keeping your neck neutral, slowly lift one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously. Think about lengthening those limbs rather than lifting them as high as you can. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
Exercise-Ball Trunk Slide
Kneel down facing an exercise ball and place your clasped hands atop it. Keeping your abs contracted and your back flat, slowly roll the ball forward so that your body moves forward with it. Roll as far as you can without feeling shoulder discomfort or pulling your spine out of position.
Exercise-Ball Plank-to-Knee Tuck
To start, lie facedown on an exercise ball so your midsection is fully supported. Place your palms flat on the floor — arms straight but not locked — and extend your legs behind you. Using your hands, slowly "walk" yourself forward until your shins rest atop the ball. Keep your hands aligned under your shoulders, your shoulder blades pulled back and your abs contracted. Practice holding this "plank" position for 30-60 seconds, breathing comfortably. For a greater challenge, start in the "plank" position. Draw your knees toward your chest, allowing the ball to roll forward under your shins. Slowly extend your legs back to the start position, keeping your abs contracted and your back flat throughout.
Exercise-Ball Leg Lift
Lie faceup with your feet on the floor, knees bent and an exercise ball positioned between your knees and lower legs. Keeping your abs contracted, slowly lift your feet and the ball off the floor till your thighs are perpendicular. Resist the tendency to arch your back and let your abs protrude. Keep your neck relaxed and your head in contact with the floor. To intensify this movement, lift your feet only a few inches.
GETTING STARTED | Bored with traditional ab routines and exercises? Spice up your mid-section training by grabbing a medicine ball and enlisting the help of a friend. Your core development will benefit from these variations as your gym time becomes more fun!
Both you and your partner lie faceup with your knees bent 90 degrees, feet on the floor, keeping your low backs in contact with the floor. Place your feet atop your partner's or vice versa. You hold the ball. Simultaneously crunch up slowly, lifting one vertebra at a time off the floor. At about 30 degrees you'll reach a sticking point where it feels as though you can't rise any higher. Try to keep going, as high as you can, but don't bounce, use momentum or lift your feet. At the top, throw the ball in chest-press fashion to your partner, who catches it before you both slowly return to the start position. Repeat the ascent so your partner can throw the ball back to you. Take 4-5 seconds each on the way up and down, moving in a controlled manner. Repeat the sequence for reps.
Excerpted from 101 Workouts for Women by Muscle & Fitness Hers, Cory Sorensen, Roni Ramos, Per Bernal, Jim Purdum, Ian Logan, Robert Reiff. Copyright © 2007 Weider Publications, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.