If you're looking to tone your midsection, your routine needs to include more than traditional crunches. While these exercises work the muscles that give you a six-pack, they don't target your obliques — the muscles on each side of your midsection.
The good news is, you don't need fancy equipment to strengthen your obliques. These exercises can be performed in the comfort of your living room. Begin with 10 repetitions of each exercise, working up to three sets in a row.
The oblique muscles rotate your trunk. Cross-Over-Crunches strengthen obliques on both sides at the same time.
HOW TO DO IT: Begin in a traditional crunch position — lying on your back with your knees bent. Cross your arms behind your head or over your chest. Lift your chest, bringing your left elbow toward your right knee. Stop when your shoulder blade clears the ground. Slowly lower back down. Repeat on the opposite side.
2. Side Crunch
Place a towel between your knee and the ground if side crunches are uncomfortable for your back.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms crossed behind your head. Keeping your back flat, drop your knees to the right until they rest on the ground.
Lift your chest up toward the ceiling until both shoulder blades clear the ground. Slowly lower back down. Repeat with your knees dropped to the left.
3. Side Plank
To make this exercise easier, keep your knees on the ground.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your right side with your legs directly on top of each other. Bend your right elbow and rest your forearm on the ground. Put your left hand on your left hip.
Lift your hips straight up toward the ceiling until your body is straight. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat this exercise on your left side.
4. Windshield Wipers
Keep your upper body flat on the ground throughout this exercise. If you have difficulty with this, start with your knees bent.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your arms resting at your sides. Keeping your legs together and knees straight, lift them straight up toward the ceiling. This is the starting position.
Slowly drop both legs to the right, as far as possible without moving your upper body. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the left, and alternate sides with each repetition.
Walk-outs can be easily modified based on your current fitness level. To make them easier, place your hands on an elevated surface. To make it more difficult, start in a standing position rather than on your knees.
HOW TO DO IT: Start on your hands and knees. Slowly walk your hands forward while keeping your midsection tight. Do not allow your body to lean to either side.
Walk your hands as far forward faceas possible, then step them back to the starting position.