Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s time to get serious about toning our torsos so we can feel carefree all summer long. Strengthening our abdominal muscles is important for our overall health and well-being. Abs support our entire body by giving us core strength, supporting our backs and helping us keep our balance, especially as we get older.
While it’s great to work out with summer goals in mind, consistency is the key to all exercise programs. Talk with your doctor if you are new or returning to exercise after a long absence.
Here are some torso tuning ideas:
Side Knee Raises Stand with your feet apart, shift most of your weight to your right leg, bending your right knee slightly. Push your left hip out to the side. Your torso will be on a slight diagonal from your legs. Raise your left arm straight up, make a fist and pull your arm down while lifting your left knee up and to the side. Lift with your side abs (obliques), not your thigh. Start with 10 on each side working up to 15-20 per side.
Reverse Sit-Ups Sit on the floor with your legs bent, knees up, feet touching the floor, your torso and thighs making a V-shape, hands on the floor beside your hips. Lean back, lowering your torso halfway to the floor, then pull yourself up using your abs. Keep your back as straight as possible. Cross your arms across your chest for a greater challenge. Start with 5, work up to 10-15.
V-Pulls Sit on the floor with your legs bent, knees up, feet touching the floor, your torso and thighs making a V-shape. Place your hands on the floor behind you. Lift your feet off the floor and bring your knees into your chest 10 – or even 20 times. Hold your abs tight and keep your back as straight as possible.
Planking Lie on the floor on your right side, supporting yourself on your right elbow; stack your legs and hips on top of each other, your elbow directly under your shoulder, your left arm lying on your left hip. Lift your hips off the floor and hold in a straight line as if you are a plank of wood. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Flip over and have fun on the left side too. For more of a challenge, lift your top arm straight up while lifting your hips off the floor. Start with 2 (on each side) working up to 6-8.
Alternate these abdominal exercises with other daily physical activity, and eat a balanced diet, and you’ll be ready for summer in no time. Make sure you mix up your workouts incorporating cardio, strength training and stretching. Do a physical activity that you love and try group fitness classes – you will find yourself feeding off the energy of others – a super motivator.

Courtesy of Judy Griffith