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Summer is coming up, ladies, and I’m going to share five of my most effective core exercises that’ll guarantee a good burn. There is no secret to building muscle and definition other than dedication and consistency. I would recommend doing two to three sets of this ab workout three to five days a week for the best results. Also, if the workout becomes easier, make sure to add more reps and/or more resistance. 

1. Hanging Knee Raises (AMAP)


three women on the floor working out
Photo by bruce mars from Unsplash

How to: Start by hanging from a pullup bar and without swinging your body, raise both knees together to a 90-degree angle, hold that for three seconds and repeat. At the end of your reps, try to hold the last knee raise for 15 to 30 seconds for that burn. Make sure your core is tight throughout the exercise to prevent any swaying. The goal is to keep your body so connected and tight that you are able to control your body when raising your knees.

More advanced: Hanging leg raises to iso hold.

2. Spider-Man’s to Cross-Body Mountain Climbers (eight to 10 reps each side)

How to: Start out in pushup position with your legs slightly wider. Slowly bend your right knee and pull it to the outside of your right elbow and hold it for three seconds. Return to pushup position and repeat on the left side. Once you are back in pushup position, you will do a cross-body mountain climber by pulling your right knee as close as possible to your left elbow. Return to start position and repeat with your left knee. With the spider-man’s, I usually go slow but perform the cross-body mountain climbers faster. This way you feel the burn while keeping your heart rate up! Engage that core and try not to move your hips or let them sink! The spider-man exercise will work the obliques and mid abs, and cross-body mountain climbers works your entire body.

Tip: Place a cone on your back and try to keep it from falling. This is a good indicator of proper form with minimal hip movement. 

3. Jackknifes (eight to 10 reps)

How to: Lie flat on the floor with your arms extended above your head This exercise is great for activating the lower abs. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, raise them to about a 40 degree angle and simultaneously lift your upper body and bring your arms up over your head and in front of you so they’re parallel to your legs. Try to touch your feet and stay in the jackknife position for about three seconds, increasing your strength and stability, while in the parallel position before going back down again. Your breathing is very important in this exercise as it helps you perform more controlled movements. Make sure to inhale as you lower your body to the starting position and exhale when you raise your arms and legs in jackknife position.

More advanced: Weighted jack knifes using a medicine ball or dumbbell. 

4. Lying Windshield Wipers (eight to 10 reps each side)

How to: The name of this exercise says it all. Your legs are acting like windshield wipers. Lie on your back with your arms stretched to your sides and palms against the floor. Keeping your legs straight and feet pointed towards the ceiling, slowly rotate your hips and lower your feet to one side and then to the other. Make sure to keep your legs locked out and feet together for the most control. Try to resist rotating your shoulders by pressing your hand down hard on the side you are rotating toward. Keep your core tight, move slow and controlled and use your core to rotate your legs to both sides. This should activate your oblique muscles.  

5. Plank (one to two min)


Girl doing push up
Pixabay

How to: I’m pretty sure we all know what a plank is but most people do not know what muscles to contract while holding the plank. Make sure to contract your core, glutes and quads while pressing your fingertips and toes into the ground. This makes holding a plank tougher but leads to the best results. It’s completely fine to start with a 30 second plank and build up your time because you are working all of your muscles in this position. It is better to hold a plank for less time while contracted than to hold it for longer but with no contraction. It is also important to make sure your back is straight by tightening your core as a caved-in back can lead to backaches and damage in the future. 

More advanced: Weighted plank (10 to 25 lbs for one to two minutes) OR plank leg lifts. 

Remember to perform each workout slow and controlled, even if that means you have to cut down on reps. The burn is what builds your strength and definition so push through and remind yourself it’s worth the 30 seconds of torture. Mind over matter, baby! Also, make sure to breathe properly, inhale as you release and exhale as you contract. This is important to prevent cramps and possibly passing out from holding your breath for too long while contracting. 

Further, while working out for 30 minutes or more a day will lead to great results, what you feed your body is most important. Make sure to keep up with your protein intake and clean eating. If you want to build muscle, you need a whole lot of protein every day and in order to keep that strong physique, so eating healthy balanced meals every day is the way to go. 

Finally, I recommend taking progress pictures. You might not think that from now until summer you will see results but if you are consistent with any workout, you will definitely notice some changes in your body in a short period of time. The photos help motivate you to continue and represent your accomplishments! What’s not to love about that? Prepare for hot girl summer the right way!

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Aryana is currently a freshman at FSU. In hopes of opening her own medical practice one day, Aryana is majoring in Business Management while on the pre-med track. She has a love for fitness, Bruno Mars, and all things fashion. If she isn't chasing a sunset, she's making an acaí bowl...hopefully without breaking a blender this time.
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