If your usual crunches and twists aren't meeting your toned tummy desires, it's time to step up the intensity of your core training. Changing your abs routine and incorporating the stability ball into your workouts will challenge your core muscles differently -- and better -- than the typical dozens of crunches. Fabio Comana, MA, MS, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following four advanced ab exercises to give you that sleek torso you seek.
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Stability Ball Russian Twist
According to Comana, the most complex and challenging exercise is the Stability Ball Russian Twist. Due to its sequence of challenging movements, it is also prone to more mistakes than the other exercises. The ACE exercise physiologist explains, "Unlike the previous two exercises that move front to back, this is a transverse exercise, which uses the core as a stabilizer and the oblique muscles to rotate the trunk. People are often tempted to rotate their hips in order to achieve the motion, placing a lot of stress on the low back." The key to correctly performing this advanced abs exercise is good core control and controlling the range of motion.
Step 1: Sit on your stability ball with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lean backwards while walking your feet out along the ball until your head, shoulders and upper back make contact on the ball. Create a 90-degree bend at the knees with your thighs and torso near parallel to the floor. Your thighs should be hip-width apart with weight evenly distributed through your feet. Pull your shoulder blades back and down and extend your arms above your chest, fully extending the elbows and bringing your hands together. Press your hands together throughout the exercise to maintain stability and control.
Step 2: Exhale and stiffen your torso by bracing your core muscles to stabilize your spine, and slowly rotate your torso to one side while keeping your shoulder on the ball and feet firmly secured on the floor. Keep your hips and torso parallel with the floor to avoid any tendency for your hips to drop downwards. Visualize pushing your feet into the floor and hips up toward the ceiling to help maintain the correct position.
Step 3: Inhale and hold this position briefly, then rotate to the opposite side. Start with 1 set of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side, working your way up to 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.
To learn more about ACE and to find an ACE-certified fitness trainer near you, visit ACEfitness.org.
Keep reading for even more abs exercises
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Strengthen your core muscles
Tighten your tummy with these three exercises
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