Health

Ab-a-dab-a-doo! 7 yoga poses, exercises to get great abs

Feb. 26, 2014 at 11:03 AM ET

TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer and fitness trainer Jeff Halevy are helping viewers blast belly fat with our "6 months to a 6-pack challenge. Throughout the series, they share ab-friendly recipes and exercise moves to help you get abs of steel.

The back
Take a broom, a stick or baseball bat, whichever you have at home. You want to start holding the item with your back hunched over at almost a 90 degree angle and slowly move the stick in a forward motion over your head. 

Then, straighten out your back, bringing the stick up over your head. Hunch down again and begin the cycle from your original position with the stick/broom in back of you.

The sides
Using a bungee cord or a resistance band, secure it to a heavy item in your home, like a table or chair, or have someone hold it for you. 

Lie down on your back, with your knees bent. Take the band and bring it up in a line.

The front
Put a towel on the floor (not carpet) and start in a plank position. You are going to use your arms to gently and slowly slide your body forward, and then back. This is going to work all of the muscles in your body (a full-body exercise), while really working on the front of the chest. 

Squat jacks

Start with your hands at your sides and jump, while raising the hands overhead, and land in a squat position. Return to the starting position by jumping out of the squat and returning the hands to your sides. 

Try to perform these repetitions as rapidly as possible, while maintaining proper form. Beginners should aim for 30 seconds of work followed by 30-60 seconds of rest for 8-12 rounds. Intermediate and more advanced trainees can up the challenge by performing the exercise for a minute and then resting for only 30 seconds for 8-12 rounds.

Squat thrusts
This is a staple in military and martial arts training. Start in a normal standing position. Reach down for the ground, and as soon as the hands have been planted firmly on the ground, kick out to a plank position (the "top part" of a push-up). Return to standing by quickly reversing the motion you used to kick out to a plank, then standing up. Once again, try to perform these repetitions as rapidly as possible, while maintaining proper form. Beginners should aim for 30 seconds of work followed by 30-60 seconds of rest for 8-12 rounds. Intermediate and more advanced trainees can up the challenge by performing the exercise for a minute and then resting for only 30 seconds for 8-12 rounds. 

Walking
To reap the benefits of walking for exercise, you must walk at a three mile-per-hour (or 20-minute mile) pace for at least 20 minutes.

Reverse lunge + overhead press

Select a pair of dumbbells that you can lift overhead 8-12 times before fatiguing. In a standing position, with feet hip-width apart, hold the dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing each other. Extend one leg back and drop down into a lunge, then press both dumbbells overhead. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position and stand back up, using the front leg to drive your body back to standing. Repeat the movement, but with the other leg extending back into the lunge. After both legs have lunged and you have pressed the dumbbells overhead twice, you have completed one repetition. Try to complete 2-5 sets of 4-6 reps, resting 45-120 seconds between sets.

Side lunge + row
Select a pair of dumbbells that are a bit heavier than those you used for the Reverse Lunge + Overhead Press. In a standing position, with feet hip-width apart, hold the dumbbells at your sides with palms facing each other. Step to the side, extending the leg fully and drop down into a lunge (which will feel more like a squat in this position), then hinge forward at the hips, and with the chest nearly facing the ground, row both dumbbells to the hip area. Lower the dumbbells, raise your trunk, then pull yourself back to the starting position, with the anchor leg (e.g. the leg that did not move) bent to perform the lunge. Repeat the movement on the other side. After each leg has lunged and you have rowed the dumbbells twice, you have completed one repetition. Try to complete 2-5 sets of 4-6 reps, resting 45-120 seconds between sets.

Medicine ball slam 
Get your aggression out while sculpting your abs with this explosive movement. Ideally, you'll use a soft medicine ball, but a laundry or duffel bag stuffed with clothes will do, too. 

Raise the implement overhead and simultaneously hinge your hips backwards (think: close a door behind you with your bottom), while slamming the implement to the ground. Be sure to maintain your grip on the implement, so you can immediately go right into your next repetition. This exercise is best done in intervals, e.g. 30 second of slams, followed by 15-60 seconds of rest, repeated several times over — or as a single set the next time your computer freezes up on you!

Box squat
The box squat may be the most effective tool to not only teach yourself how to squat correctly, but to also continue to train the movement (if it's appropriate for power lifters performing 800-pound squats, it's not "too easy" for you!). Set up in front of a chair, step, or stool (your "box") that is just below knee height, with feet just outside hip width, and the toes slightly turned out. Cross the arms by placing your hands on opposite shoulders, with the elbows pointed up high. Initiate the movement not by sitting down, but by sitting back — just as you would on the toilet...silly, but it will help you lock in perfect form. Come to a complete stop on the chair or step, then return to standing. Be sure that your knees do not collapse inward at any point in time during the movement. There is high variability in the number of sets and reps you can do, but I would suggest beginners start with 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps, taking 45-120 seconds rest between sets.

Video: In TODAY’s special series, “The 6 Months to a 6-Pack Challenge,” TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer and fitness trainer Jeff Halevy present exercises and foods that you need to lose stomach flab. Check out TODAY.com for some bonus ab-blasting recipes.


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