A toned set of abs doesn't require weight machines.
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Building a strong abdominal area doesn't require complicated or expensive machines. Using handheld weights, bodyweight and isometric exercises - in which you hold a position to build muscle - can help tone your stomach area, building ab strength and giving you a sleeker silhouette. Abdominal exercises will also build your core muscles, reducing the risk of injury and encouraging better posture.
The rolling pike not only works out your abdominals but also your shoulders and legs. Lying face down on a stability ball, place your hands flat on the floor, fully extending your arms with the stability ball under your stomach. Keep your legs together and straight as you roll the ball back so it sits under your knees; do this by walking forward with your arms. Keep your torso straight and parallel with the floor, making a plank position on the ball. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, keeping your legs and torso straight, letting the ball roll until it reaches your feet. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds before rolling back to plank position. Repeat 10 times for two sets.
Standing Side Crunch
This crunch variation, the standing side crunch, works your side abdominal muscles and is good for times when exercise space is limited. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, place your hands behind your head so your elbows extend out to the side. Lifting your left knee out to your left side, bring your knee up as you lower your left elbow down to meet it. Return back to the starting position and repeat 10 times per side for three sets. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, hold a stability ball with your hands instead of placing them behind your back.
Plank pose works your full core muscles, building deep abdominal strength. Lying face down on the floor with your legs together, place your hands palms down under your shoulders and push up, fully extending your arms and resting on your hands and toes only. Keep your body completely straight, so that there is a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold the pose for 30 to 90 seconds before taking a 10 second rest. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Slowly increase your holding time for this pose, working up to the full 90 seconds.
Side plank is similar to plank pose, but you start lying on your left side, with your right leg on top of your left and your left hand underneath your shoulder. Place your right hand on your hip and push up with your left arm, fully extending it and balancing on your left foot only. Your body should form a straight line from head to foot. Hold the position for 30 to 90 seconds before relaxing and switching sides. Repeat 5 to 10 times per side. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, try extending your upper arm straight up, forming a single line along your arms.
Medicine Ball Twist
Also known as the Russian twist, this exercise builds your front and side abdominal muscles. Sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet crossed at the ankles, hold a medicine ball with both hands in front of your lower chest. Keep your back straight as you slowly twist your body to the right, keeping your legs facing forward. Then slowly turn to the left with your torso, still keeping your legs forward. Repeat the twists 10 times per side for three sets. Increase the weight of the medicine ball as you become stronger and more accustomed to the exercise.