Adapted from The News Rules of LIfting for Abs: A Myth-Busting Fitness Plan for Men and Women Who Want a Strong Core and a Pain-Free Back, by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove (Avery)
Get into a modified pushup position with your weight resting on your forearms and toes, elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your neck to your ankles. From that position, brace your core and lift one foot off the floor. You can hold that position for the entire set—60 to 90 seconds—and then do the second set with the other leg raised, or switch legs halfway through each set.
Position your toes on an exercise bench and your forearms on the floor, with your weight resting on your forearms and toes, elbows under your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your neck to your ankles, which means your head will be angled downward slightly. Brace your core and hold for 10 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this pattern a total of 10 times.
Place your hands on a stability ball, roughly 18 to 24 inches apart, and extend your legs behind you in a pushup position, with your body forming a straight line from your neck to your ankles. Raise your right foot off the floor and slowly bring your right knee up toward your chest, then lower it. That’s one rep. Repeat with the left leg, and continue alternating until you’ve done 10 to 12 reps with each leg.
Stand to the right of a step with a heavy dumbbell in your right hand and squat until the weight is at your shin. As you stand, step to the left to plant your left foot on the step, quickly followed by your right foot so that you’re standing on the step. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do five, then switch sides and repeat. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds, then repeat for a total of two sets.
Lie on your left side with your legs straight and your right leg stacked on your left. Position yourself so your weight is resting on your left forearm and the outside edge of your left foot. Your elbow should be directly beneath your shoulder, and your upper arm should be perpendicular to the floor. Align your body so it forms a straight line from your neck to your ankles, and place your right hand on your hip. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Lie on your left side and set up in a side plank, with your legs straight and your weight resting on your left forearm. Align your body so it forms a straight line from your neck to your ankles and put your right hand on your hip. Lift your left leg and bend that knee, bringing your foot next to the inside of your right knee. Your body weight is now resting on your left forearm and the inside edge of your right foot. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Position yourself next to a low cable machine (or attach a resistance band, with or without a handle, to a secure low object) and get into a side plank position facing the cable. Grab the handle with your free hand, palm facing the floor. Brace your core and, without allowing your torso to lean forward or backward, pull the cable until it’s at or near the side of your rib cage. Slowly return to the starting position, again keeping your core still and moving only your arm. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 12, then repeat on the other side.
Grab a dumbbell in each hand, one about 10 pounds heavier than the other, and hold them overhead, palms facing each other. Keep your core engaged and slowly walk forward 10 to 20 steps, moving from heel to toe as you step. Switch the weights and repeat. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds, then repeat for a total of two sets.
Last updated: February 14, 2011 Issue date: January/February 2011