Move over crunches! Certified health coach and nutritionist Michelle Pellizzon developed this quick workout to change up your core-strengthening routine and target the abs from all angles. That’s why these moves incorporate a lot of twisting—which is great for toning the obliques and strengthening your stabilizer muscles. Twisting also helps to whittle your waistline.
The only piece of equipment you’ll need is a 10- to 15-pound kettlebell (you can go up to 20 pounds if that feels too light). A single dumbbell works, too.
To fully reap the rewards, cycle through the full routine twice in a row, resting for a minute in between. Add this into your regular strength routine, along with cardio, and you should start to see and feel a stronger core within a few weeks.
Grab your weight, hit play, and get ready to twist!
Do: 5 reps on in each direction, then switch sides and repeat
This move will help warm up your abs so you can work up to the deeper twists. You can always count on a kettlebell to heat things up quickly! Start kneeling on your left knee with the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Grip the kettlebell with both hands at the horns. Keeping core muscles tight, with your shoulders and chest facing forward, and your elbows bent, begin circling the kettlebell around your head counterclockwise (as shown) until you return to the starting position.
Do: 10 reps on the same side, then switch and repeat
This is no ordinary side plank! You’ll definitely feel your stabilizer muscles working in this move. Start on your left side with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle directly underneath your left shoulder with the hips lifted. Lift your right arm into the air and bend the elbow so that your right hand grazes the back of the right ear. Make sure your hips, feet, and shoulders are all stacked, one on top of the other. Keep pressing the hips up toward the ceiling and keep your core tight to maintain balance as you rotate your torso toward the floor until your right elbow touches (or comes close to touching) your left hand. Use those core muscles to bring yourself back to the starting position.
Do: 20 reps; 1 rep is equal to lifting the right knee and then the left knee
Feeling the burn? That means it’s working—and you’re already halfway done! Jump right into this one to keep your heart rate up. Begin in a high plank position with feet hip-distance apart, shoulders stacked directly over wrists, shoulder blades pressing down, and hands facing forward. Keeping navel pulled into the spine and core muscles engaged, bring right knee across your body toward your left elbow, scooping out the belly and twisting toward the left. Return you right foot to the starting position and repeat with the opposite foot.
Do: 20 reps total, alternating sides
This final move is really effective (read: challenging) so give it all you’ve got. The most important thing is to keep your lower back on the floor especially when your hips may try to lift to one side. This is where you’ll be counting on your core, so let it do the work. Lie with on your back flat on the floor and raise your legs toward the ceiling until you form a 90-degree angle. Spread your arms straight out to the sides, forming a T-shape. Rotate your legs to one side, keeping the whole leg—from inner thighs to the feet—in contact with the other, stopping just short of touching the floor (only go down as far as you can while keeping your lower back glued to the floor). Return to the starting position and rotate your legs toward the floor in the opposite direction.
Melinda writes about health, wellness, and food for the Thrive Market blog. She started her career as a financial journalist in NYC and has written for Where Magazine, Worth, Forbes, and TheStreet.com. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys working out, sketching, and playing with her daughter and mini-dachshund, Goliath.
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