By Guest Blogger Vesna Dodevka
Happy 2014! I am sure you already know that some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, work out more frequently, and be healthy.
Did you also know that many people share similar workout habits? They come to the gym, pull out their crispy clean workout clothes from their gym bag, fill up their water bottle and off they go to the gym floor.
On average, they work out for one hour, doing all sorts of exercises such as lunges, squats, shoulder presses. They work on all their muscles groups, often skipping their abs because, let’s face it, once you lie down on that mat to do abs at the end, you’re pretty exhausted by then. Or, if you haven’t run out of time, you just might throw in a set of 20 and rush off to the locker room to shower.
Now, I don’t mean to act as your personal trainer, but I do want to mention that your core which includes your abs, obliques and lower back are the powerhouse of your body where a lot of your strength comes from, so you don’t want to skip it. Trust me.
If lack of time or simply exhaustion is what’s stopping you from working your abs, then let me show you a few ways you can incorporate your abs THROUGHOUT your routine. We’re not on the fence when it comes to the importance of using our core!
Exercise 1: Chest Fly
The chest fly is a great exercise for working the chest and arms but you can also incorporate your abs. It is generally done by laying on a bench and feet flat on the floor. But in the modified version you will raise your legs up as shown in the picture. Flex your abs by pressing your lower back into the floor. Grab a medium weight and try for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Exercise 2: Skull Crusher
The skull crusher is an exercise for the triceps and done with your feet flat on the ground as in the previous exercise. This time, for a bit more challenge, raise your legs up at the angle shown in the picture and again press your lower back into the ground as you are doing the skull crusher. Major ab work here! Try for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Exercise 3: Squat + Front Raise
A normal squat with dumbbells will work your abs. But if you add a shoulder raise in your squat position, then your abs will be activated much more. To get even a bigger effect, first get into your squat position and then raise your arms. Watch what happens! Try for 2 sets of 10-15 reps and make sure you don’t use a heavy weight.
Exercise 4: Side plank + rear delt raise
This exercise will work your entire body with more focus on the back of the shoulder, which is great for posture. Grab a light dumbbell (2-5lb) and from your plank position raise your arm up and back down (perpendicular to your body). This exercise will throw you off balance but it will really work your obliques.
Exercise 5: Lunge Twist
Beware of being thrown off balance with this exercise! And when you are thrown off, then take that as a sign that your abs are working hard to keep you from falling. Hold one dumbbell and twist toward the side of your forward leg. You can either do the twist on your way down into the lunge or wait until you have reached the lunge position and then twist. Try doing 2 sets of 12 repetitions on each side.
A lot of these exercises I have outlined will not give you a big that burn like doing regular crunches, but here is the thing:
Doing these exercises will activate your stabilizer muscles and work your entire core including your obliques and back muscles. You will get a few extra muscles working that you probably have not used, so overall you will be getting a better workout. It will also save you workout time at the end when you are ready to go home or to work.
2014 is here. Now is the perfect time to start fresh, and get your body healthy. A healthy body helps with a healthy mind.
About Vesna Dodevska
Vesna Dodevska is an entrepreneur and personal fitness trainer from Toronto, and the founder of FitMissy.com. As a business owner who works with clients both offline and online, Vesna promotes the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
We’d love to know, do you already incorporate any of these exercises above, and do you have any fitness tips of your own that work well for you? Please share them below.
Happy Motivation Monday!
I’d also love to say, that I hope to age like this woman. Diane Keaton was the coolest, classiest chick at the Golden Globes last night.
And finally, once we are on the topic of health and happiness, I would like to leave you with this TEDx talk. While you may not agree with homeschooling, this 11 minutes is worth your time.