9 outdoor moves for summertime abs
Now that summer is here, it’s time to take your workout outside and sculpt those summertime abs. The benefits are tremendous: Having a powerful, defined midsection conveys athleticism, confidence and overall health.
But your core does more than just turn heads—it also stabilizes your body for heavy lifts, transfers power from your legs to your torso, and keeps your spine Healthy and safe. And while we want them to look good, the best ab exercises get them strong, too.
Here are nine core-carving exercises you can do outdoors that not only build sexy summertime abs, but also boost your total-body strength.
–By Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS
Spice up boring, conventional planks by turning them into a dynamic exercise. This way, you’ll train your core for function: It must stay rigid and protect the spine as you actively move your extremities.
Start in a plank position with your forearms on the ground. Then, crawl up into a pushup position and lower yourself into a plank. Repeat for 45 seconds.
Alternating side plank
Alternating side planks turn the side plank into a dynamic move that builds tremendous rotational power and strong deep-core muscles like the transverse abdominis.
Lie on your side and place your forearm on the ground, perpendicular to your body. Keep your body straight, your glutes squeezed and your shoulders pulled back. Don’t let your hips sag. Twist your body toward the ground, switch arms and do a side plank facing the other way.
The bear crawl is a great exercise to build strong, sexy abs and total-body stability. Because it engages so many muscles, it has a high metabolic and fat-loss element, too.
Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.
To make it harder, crawl backwards or laterally. Use it as a finisher and cover all directions in 60 seconds.
Sit on the ground with your legs straight. Place your palms on the ground next to your hips and push yourself up while lifting your legs slightly off the ground. You can also use elevated bars or handles. Keep your shoulders down and back—don’t let them shrug.
If this is too hard, start with both feet on the ground as you hold yourself above the ground. Then, support yourself with just one foot on the ground. To make it harder, transition into a V-sit, where you lift your extended legs above your head.
The salute plank removes one base of support, which forces the core to work harder to stabilize your body and withstand twisting.
Start in a plank position. Keep your core tight and your glutes squeezed. Bring one hand to your forehead in a salute position and hold for five seconds. Prevent your hips from twisting and stay tight. Alternate sides. Do this for 30 seconds.
Although pushups already fire your core, this variation will further blast your abs and obliques as you actively move your leg to the side.
As you lower yourself in a pushup, pull one knee out to the side and try to touch that same side’s elbow. Get as close to the ground as you can and push up while bringing the leg back to its original position. Alternate sides. Do 3-4 sets for 8 reps each side.
Ab walkouts mimic the ab wheel and blast your core by changing the length your midsection has to support. You’ll also strengthen your lats as your reach overhead.
Start in a pushup position. Slowly march your arms forward while keeping your feet still and core braced. Do not let your lower back sag or bend your hips as you extend forward. Go as far as you can and march to your original position. If this is too difficult, start on your knees instead of the pushup position.
To shred your abs, do 8 reps for three sets.
Popularized by Bruce Lee, dragonflags are a brutal ab exercise that hammers your entire core, engages your entire body, and carries over to every athletic movement—to do just one, you already have to have a strong core.
Lie on a bench, reach behind your head, and grab onto the bench as tight as you can. Push your legs, hips, and torso straight above and maintain a straight line. Lower yourself while keeping a straight line from feet to shoulders. Go as low as you can without touching the bench and lift your body back up, again keeping your body as straight as possible.
If you can’t lift yourself back up, do negative dragonflags: Bring your body to the top position and lower yourself as slowly as you can while keeping your body straight. Rest at the bottom and repeat. Do them for five reps.
While crunches and sit-ups can hurt your back, develop bad posture and strain your neck, reverse crunches can actually correct your posture while developing strong obliques and lower abs muscles.
Lie on the ground with your thighs perpendicular to the ground, your knees bent as far as you can, and your feet off the ground. Curl your knees up to your head and slowly bring them back. Keep your knees fully bent throughout the exercise and don’t let your thighs go past perpendicular to the ground.
If this is too hard, grab a weight or sturdy object behind you—that way, you can hold and pull it as your curl your knees. To blast your core, do three sets for 12 reps.