While a strong and healthy core is important for all seasons, everyone wants great abs in the summer. Between the pool, the beach and running around town on hot, humid days, trying to stay cool often means wearing more revealing clothing and swimsuits. With your middle more likely to be on display – or at least, close to it – making the midsection taut becomes the core focus of most women’s workouts this time of year.
Since you are a woman of style and substance who wants to spend less of her precious warm-weather time doing crunches, and more time outdoors, soaking up all that summer has to offer, you need a plan that incorporates more core work throughout the workout, so that when you hit the gym, you can get in, get out and get on with your day – while rocking that bikini. Here are a few ways to add more functional core work into your routine:
Re-think the plank. Planks are one of the best ways to strengthen your core (including those oft-neglected lower back muscles), but just throwing a plank hold in at the end of your workout, when you’re more likely to be exhausted, isn’t necessarily most effective way to incorporate these staples into your routine. Try the Renegade Row, which works the back and the core, earlier on in your workout. And don’t forget about the Pushup – great for the chest and shoulders, but it’s also a plank in disguise! In both exercises, keep the belly button pulled in towards the spine and the body in a straight line from head to toe, with wrists and elbows in line with your shoulders.
Add some (in)stability to your workout. BOSU and stability balls are great tools for ab-effective workouts. Perform moves like bicep curls on a BOSU; the uneven surface recruits your abdominal muscles to keep you upright. Stability balls are also useful – try pairing abdominal roll-outs with pike-ups.
Include bursts of high-intensity cardio. Between sets or circuits, keep your heart rate up with 30-90 seconds of Burpees, Mountain Climbers or Plank Jacks. You’ll be burning more calories while working your abs – the perfect combination to start seeing some definition in that midsection.
Finally, don’t forget that when it comes to abs, your diet is the key difference between showing off a one-pack and a six-pack, so combine these tips with a clean diet comprised of whole foods.