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Quick Ab Routines

by Michael George - traineo Celebrity Trainer and Expert Motivator

Four minutes in your home or office is all it takes.

You're constantly on the run: no time to hit the gym. That once-flat stomach is starting to inch over your belt and feel a little mushy--not to mention that your lower back is acting up again. These are all indications of what I call "weak abs syndrome."

In our busy, stress-filled lives, the abs, or abdominal muscles, are the muscles most neglected and least used. Obviously, a consistent exercise regime with a balanced diet is the key to staying fit and keeping those abs from turning to mashed potatoes. Unfortunately, due to life's wonderful spontaneity, a consistent workout schedule is not always an option! So how can you keep your abs from growing out of control?

You don't have to spend hours in the gym to have hard abs. It only takes four minutes a day to maintain and strengthen your abs. (Of course, to burn the fat silently hiding under the ab muscles you also need to exercise consistently and eat healthy.)

Here are four easy exercises you can do, for one minute each, in the privacy of your office or home.

  1. Crunches : Lie down on a soft mat or carpet. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. With both hands clasped behind your head, slowly bring your head straight up (not forward), pulling from your abdominal area. Your head only needs to come up far enough for you to feel a complete contraction of the abs. Then allow your head to slowly return to the floor. Repeat. Be sure to do each repetition slowly, with controlled exhalation on each contraction. Do as many crunches as you can in 60 seconds.
  2. Reverse Crunches : Start in the same position as with the crunches, but this time cross your legs and slowly bring the knees into your chest as your arms lie flat on the floor. Make sure you feel the lower abs working and not the momentum of your legs moving too fast. A harder, modified version is to take your legs straight up into a 90 degree angle with your body, and push your pelvis upward from the lower abdominal region. Do as many crunches as you can in 60 seconds.
  3. Oblique crunches : Start lying on your back with feet flat on the floor. Take one leg and cross it over the other leg, so the ankle of the crossed leg is resting on the thigh of the other leg. Bring the arm on the side of the uncrossed leg behind your head while the other arm rests on your stomach or the floor. Slowly bring the arm behind your head up and twist so the outside of the elbow goes to the outside of the opposite knee. Come down and repeat. Do as many repetitions as you can in 30 seconds. Then switch sides and repeat.
  4. Slow bicycle : Lying on your back, clasp your hands behind your head. Slowly bring one knee into your chest as the other leg lies on the floor (the modified, harder version is to keep your extended leg about one inch off the ground). After your opposite knee and elbow touch, slowly do the same on the other side. Picture yourself riding a bicycle. The key to this exercise is to do it very slowly, allowing your abs and oblique muscles to work in unison. Repeat for 60 seconds.