Summer Body Workout, Pt 1 – Abs

Summer is lurking around the corner right after the rainy months of spring. That means only one thing; in Nelly’s famous words, “It's gettin' hot in here, I am gettin' so hot, I wanna take my clothes off.” When the clothes come off there’s nowhere to hide – that belly is too much! In honour of the hottest season of the year and our hankering for washboard abs, I’m doing a multi-part workout series here on my blog designed to get you in tip top shape to wear less and bare more with more confidence. (UM, did you see RiRi’s see through sparkly dress?) Bathing suits here we come! This post is all about the most sought-after, yet often most-misunderstood, of all muscle groups: abs.

Before we dive into the most effective exercises to tone your midsection, there are a few things I want to stress:

1. Abs are made in the kitchen – Clean nutrition is key!

a. Avoid alcohol b. Avoid sugar and fake sugar (watch for my Blood Sugar Control Challenge next month) c. Make sure you’re getting enough fiber

2. Ab training doesn’t have to happen every single day of the week or take hours 10-15 minutes of focused training every other day will deliver cut, ripped, shredded, gorgeous abdominals.

3. Women tend to carry more fat on their lower abdomen (boo) for child-bearing, plus, women’s abs are smaller, longer and thus more difficult to train than men’s.

So with the above in mind, YES this area is more difficult to chisel than other parts of the body – especially lower abs beneath the belly button – but getting a set of bricks for abs is 100% achievable through strict dedication to your training and Eating Clean. Remember, it’s just as important to grow your ab muscles as it is to melt the fat from your winter spare tire, meno-pot, pooch, Bhudda belly, whatever you call it. Commit to this and you will see your abs rise to the surface!

With that, here are 3 of my all time favorite exercises to flatten our midsections and make our gorgeous abs pop out:

1. The Captain’s Chair Using a vertical bench, rest your lower arms on the arm rests for support, place your back flat against the back support and allow your legs to hang down. Hold your body steady and slowly raise both legs, keeping them as straight as possible. Lift them as high as you can in a slow, controlled movement. Hold your legs in the extended and raised position for a count of two and then slowly lower them. Keep your back straight against the bench throughout and do not swing your legs up – deliberate movements only. Perform three sets of 12-15 reps. This exercise delivers a steady contraction to the lower abs that you will definitely feel the next day!

2. Bench Knee Tucks Sit sideways on a bench, holding the edges on either side of you for support. Begin with knees bent, tucked in close to your tummy. Raise the legs slightly, then straighten them, leaning backwards to help with balance if needed. Next, lift your knees up and in towards your chest, into a tucked position. Breathe in deeply as the knees tuck in and exhale as your legs straighten out in front of you. Keep your lower legs pointing down and contract the lower abs tightly. Make this move harder by twisting to target obliques. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

3. Heel Press to Ceiling Lie down on your back on the floor. With your legs extended straight and heels flexed, contract your lower abs and press your heels up toward the ceiling. Your buttocks should come off the floor slightly, only inches. Hold the contraction for a moment then return to starting position. Repeat this movement for three sets of 12-15 reps.

Ab exercises like these will give you a burn while you do them and on into the next day but don’t fret, the “pain” tells you your muscles are truly engaged and growing. But the best part is that when you mix these moves in with your favourite workouts, eat high quality clean foods and stay consistent you can watch your waistline shrink! And putting your little ol’ bikini on this summer won’t be such a downer.

I need to know! What are your go-to ab workouts? What are your goals for your core; a ripped 6-pack, a svelte and tiny waist or a little tune up? Connect with me in the comments, at the Kitchen Table or on Twitter or Facebook.

Remember, I’m always listening Tosca

PS. Oh by the way … Reverse Crunches are pretty awesome ab makers too!