Looking to tone up your abs, improve your core strength and get a flatter stomach?
If you are anything like me, you hate doing sit ups and crunches; but you want ABS!!! In fact, if you’re looking for a flatter stomach, exercises such as sit ups will not get you the results you are looking for anyway!
I do not have perfect 6 pack Abs or a stomach like a supermodel but I am darn proud of being able to get my flat stomach back pretty quickly after having my baby. This picture here is me now 16 months post partum and my abdominal strength continues to improve each week! I will not lie, I work really hard to live a healthy lifestyle but I also enjoy the occasional dessert and I love wine ( you can’t take away my wine). It’s all about balance!!!
I’m excited to share my favorite exercise routine with you that helped me to get a flat stomach and tone up by ABS! No sit ups or crunches involved!
When it comes to working your abdominal muscles, we tend to think of exercises such as sit ups or crunches as the gold standard. However, these are actually not the most effective exercises for toning your abs and cinch your waistline. Sit ups can actually place stress on the lower back and overwork your hip flexor muscles. The hip flexors run from the lumbar spine ( lower back) and attach to the front of your thighs. When they are overworked or tight they can pull on the lower back and cause discomfort. Research shows that it is much more effective to work your core using dynamic movements that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Furthermore, it’s important to understand that your “core” does not just refer to your abdominal muscles but rather to all the muscles that support the spine ( your abdominals, back and lower body). I have outlined some of the most effective exercises I have found for toning my abs and getting that flat stomach, without doing a single crunch or sit up. In fact, I honestly can’t remember the last time I did a crunch! Of course, proper nutrition plays a huge role in toning your midsection, so it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. So get ready to tone up those ABS!!! *Note: This picture below is me at 5 months postpartum*
*Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially post partum. These exercises are safe to perform post partum and I began this routine 6 weeks after having my baby! If you are cleared to exercise sooner ( as I was), you can check out my post here on some great abdominal exercises you can perform during the 6 weeks post partum wait!
For this routine, it’s important to remember to engage your Transverse Abdominus (TrA) during each exercise by drawing your navel in towards your spine. This will allow for improved abdominal activation and protect your lower back. Perform this routine 2-3x a week for best results!
Follow along with the routine below and get ready to work those Abs!
- Forearm plank: We begin this workout with my favorite abdominal and total body exercise: THE PLANK! Begin laying on your stomach: elbows under your shoulders, toes curled under, abs engaged. Lift your lower body up off the floor: focusing on drawing your navel in towards your spine along with squeezing your thighs and pressing back through your heels to distribute your weight evenly. Make sure you are not arching your back or sticking your butt up in the air. Maintain a neutral spine as shown. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3x. Work your way up to 1 min as you get stronger! If there is one single exercise that has helped to flatten my stomach and improve my core strength, this is it!
- Side Plank: Lay on your side with your body in straight line, elbow directly under your shoulder. Engage your abd while keeping your back straight, lift your knees and hips up off the floor. If you need to you can place one hand in front of you just to steady yourself. Hold this for 20 seconds. Repeat 3x on each side. Work up to 60 seconds. If this is too much for you to start, you can modify this exercise and still get great results. To modify, simply bend your knees ( keep the knees on the floor) and lift your hips up off the ground.
- Superman: This exercise targets your back muscles which allows for improved core functioning and posture. To perform lay on your stomach with your forehead resting on your mat so you are not straining your neck. Extend your arms out in front of you and relax the tops of your feet as shown. Draw your navel in towards your spine and lift your arms and legs up off the floor like “superman” while keeping your spine nice and straight. If this is too much for you or you are just starting out; begin with lifting opposite arm and leg first! Hold this for 5 seconds perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
- Quadruped alternating arm and leg raises: Begin on hands and knees with your knees under your hips, wrist under your shoulders and spine in a neutral position as shown here. Draw you navel in towards your spine to engage your abs and raise opposite arm and leg off the floor as your keep your back from moving. The important thing here is to keep a neutral spine or flat back. It helps to think about balancing a nice glass of wine on your back that you don’t want to spill! Hold this for 5 seconds and repeat 30x total for 2 rounds.
- Slow mountain climbers: Begin in a plank position with proper form. Wrists should be under your shoulders, abs engaged, squeeze your thighs and press back through your heels to take some of the pressure of your shoulders and distribute your weight evenly. Draw your navel in towards your spine as you bring one knee in towards our chest as though you are trying to touch your knee to your nose: you should feel your Abs engage! Repeat this on the opposite side for a total of 30x.
- Boat Pose: Sit on the floor or yoga mat with good posture drawing your navel in towards your spine Bring your knees in towards your chest and extend your legs out in front of you. Try not to rock backwards too much. This is more of an advanced abdominal exercise so a great way to modify is to keep your knees bent or to keep one foot on the ground until you are ready to progress. Hold this for 30 seconds, repeat 5x. Note: baby optional!
- Leg lowers: This is a great exercise to challenge the lower abdominals and help to achieve that flat stomach. To perform: lay on our back with your legs extended at a 90 degree angle, head resting on the floor and hands under your bottom for some support as shown here. It’s very important to make sure you keep your lower back pressed into the floor or mat the entire time so you are not placing too much stress on the spine. This exercise should not cause lower back pain! Inhale as you draw your navel in towards your spine and exhale as your slowly lower your legs down towards the floor so that your feet hover just a few inches from the ground. Inhale back to start. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Scissor kicks: Lay on your back with your head resting on your mat and lower back pressed into the floor legs at a 90 degree angle as shown. Engaging your abdominals and keeping your back from arching slowly lower your legs towards the floor as your perform a scissoring motion ( alternating crossing one leg over the other). Repeat this same movement as your return to starting position: That’s one rep. Repeat 10x total.
- Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Engage your abs as you lift your hips up until your thighs are in a straight line with your torso squeezing your glutes at the top of the motion. Lower back down to start, that’s one rep. Repeat this for 3 sets of 12-15 reps. Extra points for baby!
- Seated twist with medicine ball or weight. Hold on to a medicine ball or weight ( I usually use around 15#). Engage your abs my drawing your navel in towards your spine and sit back slightly so your spine is in a “C” curve position as shown. Moving from your core bring the weight to the right as your gently twist the spine. Bring yourself back to center and repeat to the left side; that’s 1 rep. Repeat this 15x total for 3 sets
So here you have some of my favorite moves for achieving that flat stomach and toning your abs without even doing a single sit up or crunch. I hope you enjoyed the workout! Try this workout and comment with your thoughts. Share on social media and follow me for more workouts, tips and advice!
Check out my post on more tips to get your body back after baby here!
Check out my plank workout to get your bikini ready for summer here!
Email me with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Allie Flowers