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The Best Tummy Toners for You

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Beginner Exercises

1. Crunch with Alternate Leg Extensions

Targets abs

Lie faceup, with knees bent and feet on floor hip-width apart. Interlace hands behind head. Simultaneously lift head, neck, and shoulders and extend left leg so that it's 1 to 2 feet off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Bend knee back in as you lower upper body to start. Repeat on right side. Do 20 crunches, alternating sides.

2. Side Extension

Targets shoulders, core, obliques

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding water bottle with both hands overhead, shoulders down. Lean upper body slightly forward and to the right. Hold for 2 breaths. Return to starting position. Repeat on left side. Do 10 reps, alternating sides.

3. Toe Drop

Targets abs

Lie faceup, arms at sides, palms down, knees bent 90 degrees so calves are parallel to the floor. Engage abs and slowly lower left toes to touch the floor. Lift foot back up; repeat on right side. Do 25 reps, alternating legs.

Intermediate Exercises

1. Crisscross Abs

Targets abs, obliques

Lie faceup with legs extended. Bend right knee. Place left hand beside left hip, palm down. Lift left leg while reaching right hand toward left toes, outside leg, crossing over the front of body. Lower. Do 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

2. Knee Lift

Targets shoulders, abs

Stand with feet hip-width apart, abs engaged, holding water bottle with both hands. Extend arms overhead. Lift left knee as you lower arms, bringing water bottle and knee together. Lower knee and raise arms back up. Repeat on right side. Do 10 reps, alternating sides.

3. All-Four

Targets arms, core, legs

Lie faceup with legs lifted over hips, feet flexed. Extend arms over shoulders, palms in. Engage abs; lower left arm and right leg toward the floor, without arching back or shrugging shoulders. Lift back up. Do 10 reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Advanced Exercises

1. Seated Crunch

Targets triceps, abs

Sit with legs together, knees bent, abs engaged. Place hands behind butt, fingers pointed toward body. Press into palms, lean back, and extend legs. Bend knees; twist legs to left and bring them into chest as you crunch upper body in. Lean back and return to center, legs extended. Repeat to right. Do 20 reps, alternating sides.

2. Standing Twist

Targets shoulders, arms, obliques

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding water bottle with both hands in front of you. Slowly lift left leg, balancing on right foot. Engage abs and twist upper body to the left, back through center, then to right. Repeat full rotation for 15 reps. Lower leg; switch sides and repeat.

3. Bent Knee Roll-Up

Targets abs

Lie faceup with knees bent, feet hip-width apart on floor. Hold water bottle in both hands with arms extended behind head. Lift bottle 6 inches. Slowly peel upper body off mat, keeping arms extended, knees bent and feet planted. Come to a seated position with a straight back. Roll down. Do 10 reps.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, July 2007.