If you want toned abs in less time (who doesn't!), add a ball, disc, or roller to your workout. Their wobbly surfaces will challenge your core twice as much as traditional crunches, says a recent Auburn University study. That means you can get away with doing only 2 moves and still see fabulous results. The ball routine is the easiest because the large surface area provides more stability. As the props become smaller, there's less contact with your body and the floor, increasing the challenge.
Do your chosen ab workout 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days, completing 2 or 3 sets of each exercise.
FOR FASTER RESULTS
Include 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 3 to 5 times a week to burn off the fat that's hiding your abs.EASY
To make the ball easier to control, release a bit of air from it; to increase the difficulty, pump it up. Bonus: You can sit on the ball during strength-training to add a balance challenge.
Targets rectus (front abs), transverse (deep abs), quads, inner thighs
Sit up straight on top of ball with knees bent, insides of legs touching, and arms extended to sides, palms down. Press knees and inner thighs together while lifting right foot and straightening leg. Lower foot and repeat with left leg for 1 rep. Do 8 to 10 reps.Ball Circle
Targets transverse obliques (side abs), back, shoulders
Kneel on floor with forearms on top of ball, keeping body in one long line (A). Circle forearms to roll ball clockwise 8 times and then counterclockwise 8 times (B). Keep rest of body still.
Keep your feet off the floor with these moves to activate more muscles. Bonus: Stand on the disc barefoot while talking on the phone or doing the dishes to work your core at the same time.
Targets rectus (front abs), transverse (deep abs)
Lie faceup on floor with disc under hips and lower back, shoulders and head on floor, and arms at sides, palms down. Start with legs together in a tabletop position, knees over hips, shins parallel to floor (A). Keeping legs together, lower feet as close to floor as possible without arching back (B). Return to start. Do 8 to 10 reps.
Targets rectus, transverse, lower back, thighs
Sit on disc with hands on floor behind you. Lean back slightly and bend legs so shins are almost parallel to floor. Keeping chest lifted, extend legs straight out. Return to start. Do 12 to 15 reps.
When you lie vertically on the roller (as in these exercises), make sure your tailbone, spine, and head are supported. Bonus: This prop can ease muscle soreness. Click here to get moves.
Targets rectus (front abs), transverse (deep abs), obliques (side abs), quads
Lie faceup on roller with forearms pressing floor for balance. From a tabletop position, open knees 6 to 8 inches; keep heels together. (A). Extend legs at a 45-degree angle to floor, squeezing legs together (B). Don't arch lower back. Bend knees back in. Do 15 to 18 reps.Roll-Up
Targets rectus, transverse, obliques
Lie on roller, arms extended toward ceiling, knees bent, and feet shoulder-width apart. Lift head and neck, reaching arms toward knees as shown. Then roll up until you're sitting upright with arms parallel to floor. Slowly roll down. Do 6 to 8 reps.