If your weight room sessions these days consist of you plodding through the exact same regimen that consists of the exact same sequence of exercises that you cooked up way back in high school, here is your chance to incorporate some badly-needed variety in your life. Today: CRUNCHES. Here's how to get the abs of your dreams, according to a few of our favorite trainers.
Idalis Velazquez: Hollow body crunch
The hollow body position involves bracing your abs and creating total-body tension, which is a more effective way and functional way of training your abs than traditional crunches. Start by laying out flat on the mat, and, while keeping your lower back on the floor, tuck in your ribs and raise your shoulders and legs off the exercise mat at the same time. Imagine pulling your belly button into your spine. Hold for one second, and then bring your knees and elbows together, holding that position for an additional second. Aim to complete 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.
Ben Booker: Hanging knee raises.
Hanging on a pull-up bar, arms straight, and raise your knees high as you can towards your chin. Don’t swing—controlling the motion like this recruits the obliques and other stabilizer muscles, which demands tremendous core strength. For additional variety, add a twist at the top of the motion, or if you dare, try to get your toes all the day to the bar.
Jay Cardiello: Knee presses.
Try an isometric exercise for a change of pace in your core routine. Lay flat on floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your shins off the ground and parallel to floor. Place your palms on top of knees, and press into your knees as hard as possible, while also driving your knees upwards toward your chin. Keep your lower back flat on floor, and imagine pressing your stomach up towards the ceiling. Maintain the position for 30 seconds, and then release.
Gideon Akande: Reverse crunch.
Most people mentally check out after just a few crunches, but reversing the motion is a great way to refocus your attention. Start on your back with your knees bent in a sit-up position. Glue your heels to your butt and lift your hips over your head. The challenge, though, is returning to the starting position as slowly as you can. The only way that happens is to engage the lower abs and maintaining control throughout the movement, like so.
Alexia Clark: Medicine ball engaged crunch.
Lay on your back and squeeze a medicine ball between your forearm and your thigh. Use your core to hold the ball in place while keeping your leg at a 90 degree angle, as demonstrated here. Raise the opposite leg up and down, performing 15-20 reps on each side. This exercise requires your core to do multiple things at once, maximizing calorie burn and promoting extreme muscle confusion.