Think celery is the only thing that should crunch? Are sit-ups your exercise equivalent of a root canal? Good news: You can achieve firm, flat, sexy abs without doing either. “Strength moves requiring balance work the tough-to-reach transversus abdominis more effectively than traditional ab toners do,” says Robert Sherman, a trainer in Rockville, Maryland, who designed this sneaky sculpting routine. You’ll need anything that creates an unstable surface: folded bath towels, a BOSU or a pair of balance pods. Complete two sets of each move up to three times a week on alternate days, and you’ll be ab fab in a flash!
With left foot on pod, lower into lunge, knee over ankle, thigh parallel to ground, right knee bent with heel raised, hands on hips (as shown). As you straighten left leg, push off ball of right foot, bringing right thigh in front and parallel to ground, balancing on pod. Slowly return to start. Do 12 reps. Switch legs; repeat.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, pod under right foot, arms down. Raise arms to sides at shoulder level as you engage abs, then slowly extend left leg to side as high as you can (as shown). Slowly return to start. Do 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Start in plank position, forearms resting on pods (spiky side down), hips lifted, legs behind you, resting on toes (as shown). Hold pose as long as you can; work up to 60 seconds. Lower to knees; repeat twice.
Stand on pods with feet hip-width apart, knees soft, arms down. Engage abs and raise arms to shoulder level for balance as you slowly squat as low as you can (as shown). Return to start. Do 12 reps.
Stand with right foot on pod, sole of left foot pressed inside left shin, knee out, and palms pressed in front of chest. Engage abs and hold pose. If you can, slowly extend arms overhead (as shown), then lower. Hold up to 30 seconds as you maintain balance. Switch sides; repeat.
Start in push-up position, with ball of left foot on pod and right leg raised in line with hips. Engage abs, bringing right knee toward left armpit (as shown). Return to start. Do 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Sit with legs extended, heels on pods, wrists directly below shoulders with palms flat on ground, fingers pointing forward. Lift hips off ground. Maintain hip lift as you engage abs and raise left leg as high as you can (as shown). Slowly return to start. Repeat on opposite side for one rep. Do 12 reps.
Time to roll up a towel or grab a BOSU! Try this workout and let us know what you think in the comments!
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Photos: Jorg Badura