Abs. Why do we think we have to spend hours doing a thousand different types of crunches in order to get ab definition? That sounds like some sort of crazy self-induced torture to me. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m LAZY. Many people I know would argue with me on this: I’ve dedicated the last several years of my life to getting healthy while spending as little as possible to do so. I work full time, do bookkeeping on the side, write this blog, volunteer at a local animal shelter, cook 6-7 days a week, and still don’t feel like I’m busy enough! Even so, spending more than 15 minutes focusing solely on ab work just sounds like a colossal waste of time to me. Worse yet: it sounds BORING.
Granted, my kettlebell workouts involve a lot of core work, so if you’re doing only cardio and hand weights, you might need to adjust the time spent on ab work. I, personally, do about 15 minutes worth of abs twice a week on Mondays and Wednesday. Fridays my kettlebell workout video involves more core work, so I skip abs that day. The most important exercise I do? Planks. Planks SUCK. And by that I mean they WORK but they are HARD.
I started out struggling heartily through a 30-second push-up plank. I graduated to 1-minute push-up planks until a discussion about the difference between a push-up plank and an elbow plank (push-up planks put more stress on your shoulders while the classic elbow plank allows more of the focus to hit your core) led me to switch to the classic elbow plank. A friendly taunting challenged me to extend my planks to 90 seconds, and now I manage a full 2 minute elbow plank.For even more plank variations, check out this fantastic article from Lifting Revolution.
I do my ab workouts in three sets: a two-minute elbow plank, 20 Russian twists with my 30-lb kettlebell, and 20 oblique crunches per side. Then I take a 2-3 minute break, and repeat twice more, for a total of three sets.
1. Elbow Plank
2. Kettlebell Russian Twists (I keep my heels touching the floor.)
3. Oblique Crunch
What ab exercises do you find give you the best bang for your buck?