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7 Ab exercises you can do on a swing set

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

A quick post-cardio core workout you can do on a swing set

Hands down, the swings are the best part of every playground, which is why this ab workout is so much fun.

Using nothing but the swings, you'll maximize your abdominal burn, strengthening your core as you pull, push and balance yourself on the seat. Do the workout after a quick run or brisk walk, or incorporate it into playtime with your kids.

1. Pike

Start in a push-up position, your hands on the ground and your feet resting in the seat of the swing — your body should form a straight line from head to toe.

Pike

Engage your core and lift your hips up toward the sky, keeping your legs straight as you draw the swing seat in toward your body. When your body forms an upside down "V," hold the position for a second, then return to the starting position in a controlled, even manner.

Pike

Start by performing two sets of 8-10 reps, gradually working your way up to 12-15 repetitions per set.

2. Reverse crunch

Start in the same push-up position that you did with the pike exercise.

Reverse crunch

This time, instead of lifting your hips toward the sky, engage your core and pull your knees in toward your chest, bending at the hips and the knees as you draw the swing seat toward your body. Hold the position for a second, then reverse the movement and return to start.

Reverse crunch

Perform two sets of 8-10 reps, gradually working your way up to 12-15 reps per set.

3. Hanging leg lift

Position yourself so you're sitting on the very front edge of the swing, your torso straight and tall. Hold onto the swing's chains in a position close to your shoulders. Bend your knees behind your body, lifting your toes from the ground — try to keep the swing as steady as possible. You want your thighs to hang as vertically as possible.

Hanging leg lift

From this position, engage your core and draw your knees up toward your chest, all while keeping the swing relatively still. You don't want to "cheat" by using the momentum of the swing — plus, it requires more core engagement to keep the swing still. Lower your legs back to start and continue the exercise.

Hanging leg lift

Perform three sets of 10-12 repetitions.

4. V-up

Position yourself so you're sitting toward the back edge of the swing. Use your feet to steady the swing (you don't want the swing to start swinging) and lean your torso backward. Keep your core tight and your upper body straight, loosely holding the swing chains as you lift your legs straight out in front of your body. Balance in this wide "V" shape for a second to prevent swinging.

V-up

Then, in one movement, tighten your core as you bend your knees and pull them in toward your chest as you also pull your torso toward the swing's chains. If you can, avoid pulling on the chains as you sit up — the movement should originate and focus on your core, not your upper body. From the upright, small "v" position, carefully extend your legs as you lean back, returning to the starting position.

V-up

Perform three sets of 10-15 repetitions.

5. Wide oblique twist

During the wide oblique twist, you may experience some lateral swing motion, but as always, the goal is to keep the swing as steady as possible.

Wide oblique twist

Sit toward the back edge of the swing, gripping the swing chains high, so your arms are almost extended above your head, your torso leaning back slightly. Lift your legs from the ground, extending them straight in front of your body. You'll hold them steady in this position throughout the exercise. Release your left hand from the swing chain, and in a very steady, controlled movement focused on keeping the core tight, open your left arm wide, reaching it back toward the ground as your body twists as far as you can to the left. When you've twisted as far as you comfortably can, use your core to pull your body back to center, reaching your left hand up to grab the swing's chain. Repeat the exercise, this time opening your right arm up and twisting to the right. When you return to center, you've completed one repetition.

Wide oblique twist

Done correctly, this is surprisingly difficult because you must keep your core tight as you work against gravity to pull your body back to center. Start by performing two sets of 8-10 repetitions, increasing the repetitions to 12 as your strength improves.

6. Narrow oblique reach

After performing the wide oblique twist, the narrow oblique reach feels killer. Start in the same position as the wide oblique twist — your arms high on the chains, your torso straight with a slight backward lean and your feet extended straight in front of you.

Narrow oblique reach

This time, release your right arm from the chain and reach it straight across your body between your torso and your left arm, tightening your core as you reach as far to the left as you can, minimizing the movement of the swing as much as you can.

Narrow oblique reach

Return to center and grab the chain with your right arm, and repeat to the opposite side. When you've reached to both sides once, you've performed a single repetition. Try to perform two sets of 8-10 reps, increasing the reps to 12 as your strength improves.

7. Plank

Finish burning out your core with a basic plank exercise, but instead of performing it on the ground, use the swing to add instability.

Plank

Rest your forearms in the seat of the swing and extend your legs behind you until your body forms a straight line from heels to head. Hold the position for as long as you can, aiming for at least 30 seconds. Do three to four sets, holding each set for as long as you can.

More fun outdoor workouts

How to: Simple playground workouts
Ditch the gym every day of the week
The Big Stick: A new way to workout

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