Did you just wake up and realize you're smack dab in the middle of swimsuit season? Yeah. Me too.
Time to pull yourself out of the winter food coma, wipe the pizza grease off your face and get your butt to the gym.
We all want those toned abs to show off at the beach. But crunches. Le sigh. Crunches are the worst exercise in the whole world. They are so boring, so tedious, so not a delicious, sugary dessert that I want to consume instead of doing crunches.
Lucky for you, crunches are not the only way to tone your abs. And we really have no time to lose, my friends. It's summer, so we need to tone our abs FAST. Besides looking good, exercising is an amazing stress relief and mood booster that helps keep your life balanced. Happy summer fun and a healthy bod is the way to go. Isn't that what summer is all about?
Here are eight unusual, not-at-all-miserable exercises to help you get those rock-hard, sculpted-from-marble abs in time for summer (even though it's kind of already summer). Tick tock!
1. Two-minute plank
Planking is the ultimate exercise to tone your whole body. You're engaging your arms, butt and legs. It really works those oblique muscles and the lower abdomen by squeezing them in (much like a corset, only without all the organ crushing). Planking is super simple, but also challenging.
Balance on your toes and forearms, while creating a straight line with your body. Hold steady for a solid two minutes. Make sure your form is strong by not putting too much stress on your shoulders. And don't forget to pull in your abs — and to squeeze those butt cheeks like you're making diamonds!
2. Stir the pot
This exercise is fun because you feel the burn in your obliques and your upper abs without becoming a sweaty mess.
Before you grab that beach ball, grab a big ol' exercise ball, my friends. Use the ball as your foundation and move into a raised plank (that means elbows on the ball, people!).
Wait! The fun isn't over.
Now, use your almost-six-pack abs to move the ball in measured circles, like you're stirring a big pot of soup. Do 12 rounds on each side and repeat.
If being on your toes for this long is too much stress on your lower back (because that's the way life goes), don't be embarrassed to lower to your knees. You've got this!
3. Mountain climbers
Mountain climbers will chisel your entire body, but they especially help to tone your lower abs. And as anyone who has ever done an abs exercise knows, toning your lower abs is the hardest part of working out your core. The pouch is real.
Start in an elevated plank. Pull each knee in toward your chest, one at a time. Do this for a full minute. The more familiar you become with the technique, the faster and more efficient you'll get at it.
It literally looks like you're climbing a mountain, only on the floor.
4. The leg swoop
This exercise is definitely challenging, but it's so worth it because it really tones your abs, FAST. And on the plus side it's not boring: It keeps you engaged because you have to focus on moving your legs while simultaneously keeping your arms still.
Start by grabbing a 5- or 10-pound standard weight plate. While lying on your back with the plate held stationary above your chest, lift your legs to form a 90-degree angle. Swoop your legs outwards, in opposite directions, until your ankles eventually hover two inches above the ground. Then bring your legs back to the starting position. Repeat 12 to 15 times before resting.
5. Boat pose
Calling all yogis! This yoga pose is actually a killer abs workout. It pulls in and tones your obliques and upper and lower abs to tighten and strengthen them.
Sit on your butt and balance on your tailbone. Glue your legs together and lift them as high as you (comfortably) can. Raise your arms straight in front of you, creating a V with your body. Balance in this position for as long as possible. Remember to steady your breath and avoid tensing up in your shoulders.
6. Dragon walk
Dragon walking is a fun exercise because it just looks really cool. Like mountain climbers, it tones your entire body. The difference is you move across the floor while doing it. (That's why it's called dragon walking — because you look like a dragon. Duh.)
Start in your plank and then pull your knee toward the elbow on the same side. At the same time, walk your opposite arm forward, like you're climbing a ladder. It's challenging, but it shows results.
A classic bridge is amazing for your glutes, but it also does quite a number on your abdominals. You might not know this, but it's important to strengthen your inner core before building those defined abs that reside above it. Bridge pose does just that.
Lie on your back and hoist your lower body into the air, placing your weight onto your heels and the tops of your shoulders. Focus on your breathing and hold for 20 seconds. Slowly bring your rear down to the floor and repeat for five reps before resting.
In order to really tighten up that belly, you need to focus on your lower back muscles — and that's exactly where the superman helps you out. FYI: It's called a superman because you look like you're flying through the air like the Man of Steel when you execute it correctly.
Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched out so you're as long as you can be. Simultaneously lift your arms and legs as high as you can manage. Again, squeeze those cheeks! (When you do the move correctly, your body will resemble a semicircle.) Perform 10 to 15 reps before resting.