Getting Your Red Zone in Shape

by Anna D

We’re now heading to week 3 of our fitness challenge and this week our focus is on – ABS, ABS, ABS. I call this the red zone because it’s a very important zone indeed. More than having a tight and toned midsection, your abs are a major part of your core. You may have heard that having a strong core is important but what does that really mean?

Here is a very practical way of looking at your core and why getting it stronger can help you get and stay in shape:

  • Performing the right abs exercises means your waist will actually get slimmer.
  • Your core protects your back from injuries.
  • Your strength comes from your core when doing ANY exercises. Whether you’re doing upper body, lower body, cardio or jumping exercises, your core helps you transfer energy between all parts of your body so you can lift heavier weights, jump higher, run longer, etc. This translates to being able to build more sexy muscles that burn fat! (I’m not talking about incredible hulk muscles either…lol)

How to Get Slimmer, Sexier Abs

I’ll make this very easy for you – don’t do sit ups! Sit ups do very little to strengthen your core and doing them will actually make your ab muscles bigger which will make your midsection look thicker. Plus, all the bending on your spine from doing these will hurt your back.

Once I stopped doing sit ups, I actually lost inches from my midsection and if you are like me who did them almost everyday, you will lose inches too once you stop doing them.

Which Ab Exercises to Do Instead?

You want to perform ab exercises that keep your spine in it’s neutral (or fairly straight) position. Here are the top 5 ones I highly recommend and we do at bootcamp every week:

#1 Plank

Get on your elbows and toes and squeeze your butt together to keep your back straight. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds. Once you get better at them, challenge yourself into doing a full minute or longer.

#2 Side Plank

Make sure your elbow is in-line or underneath your shoulder so you don’t injure your shoulder. You can start with your feet by each other for more stability and move your way up with your feet on top of each other (first picture). You can also support yourself with your free arm on the floor in front of you (see second picture).

Modified Side Plank

#3 Floor or Stability Ball Crunches

Start with your feet wider than hip width apart. Lay on the stability ball with your middle to lower back supported. Lift your head up slightly with your chin pointing towards the ceiling. Don’t bend your neck. Keep your chin away from your chest.

#4 Bird Dog

Get on all fours with knees and hands on the floor. Lift your opposite arm along with your opposite leg. Hold this position for 2 seconds and switch sides. Keep your legs parallel to the ground (you’re not pointing your legs up towards the ceiling).

#5 Stability Ball Jackknife

This is an advanced move that should only be attempted once you’ve gotten better at doing the other 4 abs exercises. Start with your arms straight and hands on the floor. Put one foot on the stability ball followed by the other foot. Once you feel stable, use your upper body and core to roll the ball towards your chest and lift your hips towards the ceiling.

How to Fit in Abs Exercises into Your Busy Day

The goal of our fitness challenge is to make small changes and not let these changes take over your life. The best way to do these abs exercises are during down times. Some examples are before you take your 15-minute break at work, before you head out for work, while you’re cooking dinner, before lunchtime, as soon as you wake up, during television commercials, etc.

As you can see, all the times I’ve listed are times when you’re already doing something else or about to do something else. Our goal for this week is to steal those 2-3 minutes and perform your abs exercises whenever you remember them. Start the habit today! Your waistband and waist line will thank you 🙂

When are you going to squeeze these abs exercises into your day and which exercises are you going to master first? Leave a comment below so we can support you.

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