Since retiring from collegiate athletics in November, I'm experimenting with new kinds of workouts and strength training that doesn't involve...ehem...an Olympic bar. Body weights, circuits, and moves that I can do while traveling are key! Here are a few favorites so far for abs:
1. Side crunches: Lying on your right side, prop yourself up with your right arm with your body weight on your elbow and your forearm extended 90 degrees from the line of your torso. Place your left hand behind your head. With knees bent 90 degrees (beginner), straight (intermediate), or straight gripping a pilates ball (advanced), lift your legs off the ground using your obliques. When you're getting used to the move you may have to twist slightly so that you're slightly more on the back of your hips than on the side.
GREAT for obliques and hard to get at low abs! Try 2-3 sets of 15 reps.
just kidding--the traditional plank is great from the front and sides. BUT! while a three minute plank might be admirable, it's a better idea to keep mixing up what kind of plank you're doing to get the best results. Try these varieties
Rotational plank: A combination of the front and side plank. Stark with both forearms on the ground, elbows under shoulders. Extend the rest of your body push-up style behind you. The idea is to keep your midsection and hips in a straight line through the whole exercise. Hold for 30-60 seconds. TIP--focus on pulling your belly button up towards your chin and in towards your back. This will keep your back from arching!
For the rotational version, move between the front and side plank during the interval, where you're body weight rests on only one arm.
When you're ready for a challenge, try lifting one leg into the air while holding the pose.