Toned abs are at the top of everyone’s list of fitness goals. But it takes more than just a few crunches to get them. Bodybuilding.com says that unless you’re eating properly and exercising on a regular basis, your abs are never going to show up. By adding these exercises into your routine, you can not only expect to burn calories, but you’ll also torch fat by increasing your heart rate and engaging multiple muscles at once. Get one step closer to having the abs you always dreamed of with these five cardio exercises.
1. High knees with a twist
This move will not only help you reach your target heart rate, which NPR mentions is the zone that boosts calorie burn, but it will also help strengthen your glutes, legs, and abs all at the same time. Everyday Health says that to perform this exercise, you’ll run in place with your knees reaching hip height (or higher for even more of a challenge). Keep your arms bent so that your elbows are by your ribs, and with each move, twist the upper half of your body toward the knee that’s lifted. Make sure to keep your back straight and lift with your hips, not just with your legs. The faster you move, the harder your body works. It may sound simple, but you’ll definitely feel your muscles working after just a few reps.
2. Rotational jacks
Everyone loves a good exercise that targets the entire body with just one move, which is what you can expect from doing a rotational jack. A simple jumping jack can be challenging enough, but Cosmopolitan says that you’ll work on cardio while engaging your quads, hamstrings, back, glutes, and core with this variation. Begin by standing with your feet together and arms at your chest. Then, jump up and land with your feet wider than hip-width apart, and then immediately lower your body into a squat. While you’re in a low squat, touch the ground with your right hand and reach your left hand up toward the ceiling, and then jump back into starting position to repeat the move. This time, you’ll have your left hand touch the floor and right hand reach toward the ceiling. This should be a continuous movement, alternating sides until exhaustion.
3. Knee strikes
Knee strikes are a great boxing exercise that will work both your back and abs. Begin by standing with your left leg slightly forward as if you’re in fighter’s stance, as per Health. Lift both your arms up above your head and reach your hands a little toward the left. Then, at the same time, bring your hands down toward your chest as if you’re pulling something down from the ceiling, and lift your right knee up to meet them. Next, quickly return your arms and legs back to the start, and immediately repeat the motion for ten repetitions before switching sides. To make the most of this exercise, make sure that you’re squeezing your abs at the bottom of each move and that you don’t pause between reps
4. Switch kicks
This exercise can definitely be challenging at first, but with practice, you’ll be a pro in no time. Switch kicks increase coordination and agility while also targeting your lower abs, which for many people, can be an extremely stubborn area. Livestrong demonstrates that you’ll begin this move by standing with your arms bent so that your elbows are by your ribs, and hands below your chin. To bring this exercise into motion, kick your right leg straight out in front of you, lifting it so that it’s about level with your hips. Then, quickly switch sides and continue alternating for one minute. To boost benefits, do this exercise as quickly as you can to increase your heart rate.
5. Skater hops
With this plyometric exercise, you’ll boost your heart rate and target your abs, glutes, and thighs as a bonus, as mentioned by Self. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Then jump to the right and land in a crossover lunge so that your right knee is bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you, and your left leg is crossed behind your right so that it’s bent at a 90-degree angle, too. Your left knee should be a few inches from the floor. Swing your arms to help keep you balanced as you jump, and try to touch the floor with your left hand as you land. Then, immediately jump to the left and repeat using the opposite arm and legs. Continue alternating sides for a few reps until exhaustion.