Ab Trifecta #3

Do each exercise once, and then repeat each one for a second set. 

Down-Dog, Up-Dog

This yoga move might be a new trick for your old abs-routine, and it’s one that will reward your practice.

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Your entire rectus abdominus (fancy Latin for entire front of your abs!) will be challenged to stay taut throughout the slow pose changes.  The constant contraction provides a super-effective toning workout. 

Begin in a plank pose with your arms straight beneath your shoulders, your legs straight out and up on your toes, and your hips in a neutral position in line with your shoulders and toes.

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Slowly press your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping abs tight as you exhale.  Pause for a second, then slowly lower your hips until slightly lower than neutral as you inhale, again keeping your abs contracted.  Pause at the bottom, and repeat.

Continue the repetitions for one minute.

To kick this exercise up a notch, bring one knee into the opposite elbow as you come down, and then extend your heel toward the ceiling as you come up.  Repeat on the opposite side.

 

 

 

Lat Lift Crunch

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This exercise is the best buddy to an upper-body workout, sneaking lats (the muscles on your mid-back right underneath your arms) into the workout alongside your abs!

Lie on your back with your feet on the ground to keep your back flat. 

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Holding an 8-15 lb weight between your hands, extend the weight out above your chest.  Slowly lower the weight behind your head, keeping your elbows extended but soft to protect the joints.  Lower as far as you can to work the lats, and then bring back up to the starting position and contract your abs into a crunch. Be sure to exhale deeply as you bring your shoulder blades off the mat.  Always keep your chin up and neck straight.  Inhale as you come back down.

Repeat 20-25 reps.

You can progress this by adding heavier weight or doing this on top of a BOSU or stability ball.

 

 

 

 

Leg Lower

This little lift challenges your abs and hip flexors, where your legs become the heavy weight they work against.

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Lie flat on the mat with legs extended.  In order to keep your back from arching, which can cause or aggravate back pain, place thumbs underneath your hips to give them something to resist against. 

Slowly lower legs as far as you can without your back arching, all the time pulling your abs in as if to make your belly button come back to the floor beneath you.  Then, bring the legs slowly back up to the top.  Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up.

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To make this more challenging, place a stability ball between your legs and squeeze throughout the entire exercise to target inner thighs and add some resistance.

You could also add a hip raise at the top, pressing feet toward the ceiling, for additional abdominal contraction.

Repeat 10-20x.