Seven Minute Abs, Just in Time for Spring

Alycia Stevenin.

The temperature's rising, the sun's shining, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and all of that means …

That the acceptable window of time to hide your mid section in wool and fleece is running out, fast. consulted Barry's Bootcamp director Alycia Stevenin to get the scoop on six exercises that will tone and trim your core in time for swimsuit season. Grab a mat or square of floor and try this sweat inducing seven minute routine. You'll feel the burn, in the best kind of way, as spring heats up.

1. Basic Crunch/Long Arm Crunch

You've been doing this move since elementary school gym class. But, Stevenin said, a lot of people perform it incorrectly. The right way: place your hands behind your ears, contract your abs, flatten your lower back against the floor, dig your belly button into your spine, breathe in, and exhale as you lift your shoulder blades up. Return to start, and repeat for a minute. "Keep you neck and chin straight," Stevenin said. "If you feel your neck muscles pulling, readjust and start again."

Once you've mastered that move, try extending your arms out behind your head for even more of a burn.

2. Bicycle Crunch

Targeting the oblique muscles on the sides of your body are crucial in whittling your waist. Bicycles may not be the newest exercise in the ab arsenal, but they've stuck around so long because they work. Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and contract your core muscles. With your hands behind your ears, lift your knees to a 45-degree angle. Pedal your feet back and forth, touching opposite elbow to opposite knee as you twist back and forth for 60 seconds.

3. Leg Throw 

"The lower abs are the hardest area to work," Stevenin said, "but this exercise goes right to their core." Begin by lifting your legs upwards so they're directly over your hips.

Extend your legs until they're above floor level (make sure you contract your abs and your lower back is flat against the floor). Once your heels are a few inches above the floor, quickly raise your legs back up. Repeat for one minute. "If you feel your lower back lifting up as you lower your legs," Stevenin said, "back off. Don't allow your legs to get so low that your lower back comes off the mat."

4. Plank

The technical terms for the regions targeted by this and the following two exercises are rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus. Both contribute to the "six pack" region you see on the fittest of the fit. The plank targets these two spots and more. "A proper plank will integrate all the stabilization muscles," Stevenin said. "The arms, glutes, and legs are active as well. It's a great way to build endurance in your abs and back."

Lie face down on the floor resting on your forearms, with palms flat. Push off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your elbows. Keep your back flat, and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for one minute.

5. Mountain Climber

This has the added bonus of boosting your heart rate. Begin in a pushup position on your hands and toes. Bring the right knee in towards your chest, resting the left foot on the floor. Jump up and switch feet in the air, bringing your left foot into your chest and the right foot back. Continue alternating your feet as fast as you can for 60 seconds.

6. Side Plank

"This variation on the standard plank will tone and tighten more than your abs," Stevenin said. Lift your body off the ground and balance on one forearm and the side of your foot. Contract your abs, draw your hip up towards the ceiling and relax your shoulders. Too easy? Balance on your palm instead of your forearm for a tougher challenge. Do one minute on your right side, then switch to your left and hold for another minute.

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