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Tighten those abs: Four exercises for your core

Get the abs you want... now!

From SheKnows Canada
It's almost bikini season, so get a head start on tightening those abs. Keep your core strong and defined with these four simple exercises.

Woman with flat abs

The abdominal bicycle

This move targets your entire ab muscle group: the upper, middle and lower portions of your abdominal muscle. It helps create the "six pack."

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor or a mat.
  2. Bring your knees to your chest while lifting your shoulder blades off the floor.
  3. Twist your body. Bring your right elbow to your left knee while stretching out your right leg, without touching the ground.
  4. Then alternate. Touch your left elbow to your right knee while straightening your left leg as it's held off of the ground.
  5. Continue to alternate sides for three sets of twelve reps.

The plank

This exercise helps build endurance and strength in the abs as well as back muscles.

  1. Lie face down with your arms bent at the elbow and palms and forearms flat against the floor by your head.
  2. Push straight up from the floor, rising up on your toes while keeping your forearms and elbows flat on the ground and your back straight.
  3. Tilt your pelvis as you contract your stomach muscles. This will help keep your straight line.
  4. Hold this plank pose for 30 seconds, then slowly lower your body to the ground.
  5. Repeat for five more reps.

The arm crunch

This crunch manoeuvre develops the upper portion of your abs.

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor or a mat. Bend your knees.
  2. Hold both of your arms straight behind your head and clasp your hands.
  3. Lift your shoulders and head off the floor while tightening your abs.
  4. Hold for three seconds, then lower your body.
  5. Pause and repeat. Do three sets of ten reps.

The bridge

Work your abs, back and shoulders all with this one exercise.

  1. Sit on the floor or a mat with your knees bent at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Lean back slightly and place your hands, palms down, on the ground directly below your shoulders.
  3. Tighten your abs, tuck in your butt and use your core muscles and arms to lift your body up to a bridge position. Your feet will be balanced on your heels while your hands remain flat. Your torso should be level with your shoulders and knees. Hold this position for a count of five, then lower your body. Repeat ten times.

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