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5 Summer-ready abs exercises

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.

Exercises for beach body abs

If bathing suit shopping makes you wish for an icy, freezing snowstorm, it may be time to get those abs in summer shape. Keep in mind that all the crunches in the world won't help if your diet consists of fast-food and vending machine meals. But combining regular exercise with a healthy diet will have your abs beach-ready just in time for the fireworks display.

Woman doing crunches

Beach body abs exercises

Do the following abs exercises two to three times per week, changing the order in which you do them with each workout.

1Heel to toe crunch

Start position: Lie face-up with legs straight out; place left heel on right toe with left hand under neck and right arm raised towards the ceiling.

Movement: Lift shoulders off the floor until you feel lower abdominal muscles working, focusing on the ceiling. Pause and slowly return to starting position.

Perform: Repeat 15 times and switch sides.

2Vertical leg crunch

Start position: Lie on your back and extend legs straight up toward the ceiling, feet crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knees. Place your hands loosely behind your head.

Movement: Pull in your abdominals and slowly raise your head, shoulder and upper back about 30 degrees off the floor, using your abs muscles -- not your neck and shoulder muscles. Hold, then slowly lower, keeping legs still.

Perform: 15 to 25 repetitions

3Reverse crunch

Start position: Lie on your back on a bench, hands overhead gripping the bench behind your head. If you don't have a bench readily available, lie on the floor and grasp a stable object, such as a couch or table leg, that you can reach. Legs are pointed straight up toward the ceiling.

Movement: Engage abdominal muscles and lift hips off the ground as you bring toes towards the ceiling; pause and slowly return to starting position.

Perform: 15 to 25 repetitions

4Ball plank

Start position: Get into plank position on a fitness ball, supporting your weight on your chest and forearms on top of the ball, with hands in loose fists, legs straight and toes on the floor.

Movement: Keep abdominal muscles contracted as you raise your upper body until elbows are at right angles, eyes straight ahead. Hold 20 seconds; gradually work your way up to 60 seconds.

Perform: 15 repetitions

5Twisted V-Seat

Start position: Sit on the floor in a reclining position, knees bent and heels on the floor (for a greater challenge, lift heels off the ground). Hold a medicine ball in front of you or clasp hands together.

Movement: Engage abdominals as you rotate your entire upper body to one side as you simultaneously rotate your lower body in the opposite direction; pause and reverse.

Perform: 15 to 25 repetitions each side

More tips for flat abs

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More abs exercises

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Pilates core training techniques

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