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Flat abs exercises: Top 4 tummy toners

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Best abs exercises

If you're not quite back to your pre-holiday skinny jeans size, it may be time to bring out the heavy artillery. No, not the latest infomercial product like the ones gathering dust in your garage. Just you, gravity and a few of the right moves. Here are four abs exercises that will flatten your tummy and strengthen your core.

Flat abs must-do: Watch your diet

Keep in mind, however, that all the ab exercises in the world won't help you if you're not watching your food intake. So kick those chips to the curb, trade the diet soda for sparkling water with lemon and add a few greens to your plate. And incorporate these killer tummy-toning exercises to your regular, total-body workouts two to three times a week for fast results.

Best abdominal exercises

1

Leg bicycle

Leg Bicycle

Targets the entire abdominal and core

Start position: Lie face-up on the floor and bring your hands behind your head, elbows out to the side. Pick feet up off the ground and bend knees as you lift your upper back off the ground.

Movement: Straighten out your right leg while you simultaneously bring your left knee in and rotate your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee.

Perform: Continue alternating right and left legs in a "pedaling" motion for 15 repetitions for each side.

2Oblique Double Leg LiftOblique Double Leg Lift

Tones obliques or "love handles"

Start position: Lie on your right side with your right arm extended, in line with your body and underneath your right ear. Your torso and legs should be in a straight line with your feet together. Place your left arm bent with forearm in front of your torso, left hand flat on the ground in front of you.

Movement: Contract your abdominals and obliques and raise both legs together approximately three inches off the ground, keeping your body in a straight line. Hold a second or two and slowly return to starting position.

Perform: Repeat 15 times and switch sides.

3Front PlankFront Plank

Strengthens entire core

Start position: Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat or the floor, elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and hands facing forward.

Movement: Tighten abs and slowly lift your entire torso off the floor or mat, maintaining a stiff torso and legs. Keep your back straight (avoid sagging or hiking up your hips). Keep your shoulders positioned directly over your elbows with your palms facing down. Continue to breathe while holding this position for a 20 seconds or longer.

Perform: 15 repetitions

4Side plankSide Plank

Works entire core with emphasis on obliques

Start position: Lie on your right side and prop yourself up on your right elbow with your left arm straight down along your left side. Keep your legs straight and stack your left foot on top of your right foot.

Movement: Contract your abdominals and raise your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line. Hold for 20 seconds, gradually increasing time as you gain strength. Switch sides and repeat.

Perform: 15 times each side

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