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5 at-Home Ab Exercises you NEED to do

Abdominal Hold

This is the sort of move that looks so wonky, you sure hope your roommate doesn’t catch you doing it — unless she also gets to see you look stellar in a bathing suit, in which case she just may pull up a chair.

  • Sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair (or step with four risers) and place your hands on the edge with your fingers pointing toward your knees.
  • Tighten your abs and bring your toes 2 to 4 inches off the floor. Lift your butt off the chair.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can — aim for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Lower yourself down and repeat.
  • Continue this exercise for 1 minute.

The Side Crunch

A deceptively difficult move, the side crunch tests your balance while it teases your oblique muscles. (It worked my hips in a way I’ve not felt in a while, too.)

Do it:

  • Kneel on the floor and lean all the way over to your right side, placing your right palm on the floor.
  • Keeping your weight balanced, slowly extend your left leg and point your toes.
  • Place your left hand behind your head, pointing your elbow toward the ceiling.
  • Next, slowly lift your leg to hip height as you extend your arm above your leg, with your palm facing forward.
  • Look out over your hand while bringing the left side of your rib cage toward your hip.
  • Lower to your starting position and repeat 6 to 8 times.
  • Do two sets of 6 to 8 reps, and then switch sides.

Opposite Arm and Leg Raise

Done during my workout warm-up, this move makes me feel longer, steadier, and seriously balanced. Thanks, core!

Do it:

  • Begin on all fours, aligning your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders.
  • Raise your left arm to shoulder height and your left leg to hip height.
  • Hold for 2 counts, reaching forward with your fingers and back with your heels.
  • Repeat this exercise on the opposite side.
  • Do 15 to 20 reps, alternating sides.

For a bigger challenge, touch your opposite elbow to your knee as you pull your arm and leg in.

Squat Thrust with Twist

I avoided this move at first because I thought it had “wrenched back” written all over it. But after doing slooowly at first and testing where the back tweaking would begin, I found the threshold between “yikes” and “yes!”

Do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height.
  • Begin by squatting down, bending your knees 90 degrees, and twisting your upper body to the left.
  • Now come up and repeat the exercise to the right.
  • Keep your weight in your heels and don’t allow your knees to jut forward away from your toes.
  • Keep your knees facing forward as your chest and shoulders move side to side.

For the best results, bend your knees as close to 90 degrees as possible.

Ballet Twist

I like the really generous side-stretching in this modified half-crunch. (When I first tried this move, I had a buddy hold my feet still at first until I got the motion down — it was helpful to have her watch my form and correct the angle of my back.)

Do it:

  • Sit on the floor and extend your legs, pressing them firmly together.
  • Lean back 45 degrees from the hips.
  • Keep your abs engaged as you bring both your arms overhead like a ballerina.
  • Slowly twist your torso to the right, placing your right arm on the mat. Keep your left arm reaching overhead for a slow count of 3.
  • Repeat the movement, keeping your left arm on the floor, and keeping your butt and heels on the floor.
  • Contract your abs to support your spine as you return to center, bringing both arms overhead.
  • Continue alternating sides. Do 2 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side.
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