8 Killer Ab Exercises

Get ready to whip off your cover-up: This workout, created exclusively for Women's Health by Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in Newhall, California, combines fat-burning cardio with moves that target your entire core rather than individual muscles, so you'll burn more fat while toning up.

Directions

Do these workout moves three nonconsecutive days a week. Start with the Basic Workout (moves 1-4) to prime your muscles. After three weeks, you'll be ready to graduate to the Advanced Workout (moves 5-8). For maximum fat burning, perform the exercises as a circuit: Do one set of each move in the order shown, resting for 30 seconds between exercises. Then rest for a minute and repeat the circuit from the beginning.

Melt Your Middle

Follow this interval-training program three times a week after your core workout. It'll fire up your metabolism and burn off the fat that's hiding your abs. Intervals are short bursts of maximum-intensity effort—you're doing it right if you can't carry on a conversation—separated by periods of easy-pace recovery. In an Australian study, women who cranked out high-intensity interval training three days a week for 15 weeks dropped significantly more weight than those who exercised for the same period of time at a lower intensity.

For this interval workout, remember to include an easy 3- to 5-minute warmup and cooldown. You can run, bike, or use the cardio machine of your choice.



Burn More Fat!

Supercharge your workout with these tips.

Basic Move: Plank




Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) and hold for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5 seconds, continuing for 1 minute. Focus on form: Don't drop your hips or raise your butt.

Basic Move: Side Plank




Lie on your right side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your right forearm so your body forms a diagonal line. Rest your left hand on your hip. Brace your abs and hold for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5; continue for 1 minute. Be sure your hips and knees stay off the floor.

Basic Move: Glute Bridge March




Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor, palms up, at shoulder level. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (A). Brace your abs and lift your right knee toward your chest (B). Hold for 2 counts, then lower your right foot. Repeat with the other leg. That's 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

Basic Move: Lunge with Rotation




Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell with both hands. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out (A). Take a big step forward with your left foot and, bracing your abs, twist your torso to the left as you bend your knees and lower your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles (B). Twist back to center, push off your left foot, and stand back up. Repeat on the other leg. That's 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps. Keep your elbows straight but not locked.

Advanced Move: Plank with Arm Lift




Get into the plank position (toes and forearms on the floor, body lifted). Your body should form a straight line (A). Brace your abs and carefully shift your weight to your right forearm. Extend your left arm in front of you (B) and hold for 3 to 10 seconds. Slowly bring your arm back in. Repeat with the right arm. That's 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps, resting for 1 minute between sets.

Advanced Move: Side Plank with Rotation




In a right-side plank position (A), brace your abs and reach your left hand toward the ceiling (B). Slowly tuck your left arm under your body and twist forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor (C). Return to the side plank. That's 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps on each side, resting for 1 minute between sets.

Advanced Move: Hip-Thigh Raise




Lie on your back with your right knee bent and your left leg extended. Rest your arms on the floor, palms up, at shoulder level with your hips about 2 inches off the floor (A). Raise your hips to form a straight line from your shoulders to your left foot (B). Hold for 2 counts, then return to start. That's 1 rep. Do 10 to 15 reps on each side. To make it harder, cross your arms over your chest.

Advanced Move: Reverse Lunge With Single-Arm Press




Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell in your left hand and hold it up next to your left shoulder, palm facing in (A). Step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your knees are bent 90 degrees (your left knee should nearly touch the floor) while pressing the dumbbell directly over your shoulder without bending or leaning at the waist (B). Lower the weight back to the starting position as you push quickly back to standing. That's 1 rep. Do 10 to 15, then switch sides.

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