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Free weights can provide a challenging and effective ab workout.
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Ab workouts are generally done with the goal of achieving the elusive six-pack, but the truth is there are many benefits to strengthening these muscles. The muscles that make up your abs, sometimes called your core, help you maintain healthy posture and support your movement through numerous activities. A strong set of abs can not only improve your performance in other exercises, but also can make it easier for you to meet the demands of your daily life. Free weights, or dumbbells, offer a challenging way to build both strength and balance in your core.
Russian Twists on Stability Ball
Hold a free weight in your hands and sit on the ball. Roll forward until your upper back rests securely on the top of the ball, keeping your thighs parallel to the ground and your feet flat. Grip the weight firmly with both hands and extend your arms toward the ceiling. Keeping your arms straight out, turn your torso to the left so that your body makes an L-shape. Return to the starting position and repeat on the right.
Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder width apart, holding a weight in your left hand. Bend at the waist as far as you can on your left side, lowering the weight toward the floor. Keep your back straight and your head up. Bend to the right, covering the same distance, and then return to your starting position. Perform the recommend amount of reps on your left, then switch the weight to your right hand and repeat.
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Hold the weight with both hands close to your chest. While keeping your back and neck straight, use your core muscles to lift your upper body off the floor. Slowly lower yourself to the starting position and repeat. To add difficulty to this exercise, try changing the position of the weight. Hold the weight above your head for a more challenging workout.
Lie flat on the floor with your arms and legs extended, holding the weight in your hands. While maintaining the natural curve of your spine, lift your legs as high as you can, keeping your legs straight. At the same time, use your arms to bring the weight in front of you and tighten your abs to lift your upper body off the ground. Act as though you're trying to touch your toes with the weight. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
Put It All Together
Perform 20 reps of each exercise with 60 seconds rest between each. In the case of the side bend, do 20 reps on each side. Use this workout in conjunction with your cardio day or as a stand-alone routine. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.