Train for Flat Abs: Bicycle
You want four to eight key moves in each workout. Be sure to target the upper and lower abs, the oblique muscles along your sides, and the back. The “bicycle” is one of the best. Lie on your back and “pedal” in the air. Raise one shoulder as if trying to touch the opposite knee. Repeat on the opposite side for two sets of 12 reps. Keep your elbows back, and your lower back on the floor.
The crunch is a classic because it works. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, elbows facing out. With your low back on the floor, use your ab muscles to lift your upper body as far as you can. Hold the pose, then slowly return to the floor. Do three sets of 10-12 reps. Rest for 30 seconds in between all ab exercises.
The reverse crunch targets the lower abs, which are tough to tone. Keep your arms at your sides, palms down. Use the abs to lift the legs, bringing the knees directly over the hips. Contract the abs further, and raise your hips and lower back off the mat, knees toward your face. Hold briefly before lowering back to the mat. Don’t let your feet touch the floor. Do three sets of 10-12 reps.
Grab a dumbbell, medicine ball, or cable weight system. Choose enough weight to work the muscle to fatigue within 12 reps. Kneel on one knee with the other foot forward. Use both hands to lift the weight up over your shoulder, on the foot-forward side. Don’t turn your torso. Slowly lower the weight to opposite hip. Head, hips, and torso should face forward at all times. Do eight to 12 reps before switching sides.
Choose a medicine ball or dumbbell. In a sitting position, lean back slightly and engage the abs, with your knees bent and heels touching the floor. Hold the weight close to your body, and slowly twist your torso to one side. Pause briefly before rotating to the opposite side. Contract the abs deeply as you twist. Work up to three sets of 12 reps.
Abs and Pecs: Dumbbell Fly
To look good shirtless, you’ll want chiseled pecs along with flat abs. Here’s a move that targets both areas. Sit on a stability ball holding dumbbells. Walk your feet forward and lie back until your head and upper back rest on the ball. Hold the dumbbells directly above your elbows. Tighten the abs and push the dumbbells straight up. Slowly swing the arms out and in — extended but not locked. Do three sets of 8-12 reps.
Abs and Back: Front Plank
As you build steely abs, be sure your back keeps pace. The plank gets the job done. Lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor. Keep the elbows bent and under your shoulders. Use your core muscles to lift your torso and thighs off the floor, tightly contracting your butt and your abs. Hold for 5 and work up to 30 to 60 seconds before lowering to the floor. Do three sets, resting 20 to 30 seconds in between. Stop immediately if you feel any lower back pain.
Abs and Back: Bird-Dog
Kneel on your hands and knees, with your fingers facing forward. Tighten the core muscles, and raise the right leg until it is parallel with the floor, not higher than the hip. At the same time, raise the left arm until it is parallel to the floor. Hold briefly. Then lower to starting position, and repeat on the other side. One rep includes a full cycle of both sides. Do three sets of 8-12 reps.
Abs and Legs: Knee Tucks
This move starts with your stomach on a stability ball, hands and feet on the floor. Engage the abs. Now walk your hands forward until you form a rigid plank, ankles resting on the ball. Don’t let the low back sag. Slowly, tuck your knees into your chest. Hold briefly, then slowly return to a plank position. Expect the ball to roll forward and back with your moves.