10-Minute Tuneups: 5 moves for great abs

A toned tummy not only looks amazing, but also provides important stability for your back

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ab workout

Get a toned tummy

There's no question a toned tummy looks awesome, but having strong abs also provides important physical bene­fits. If your abdominal, lower back and oblique muscles are all strong, you will be less likely to have low-back issues. Plus, a strong core means your posture will improve, and you'll even look more confident. Of course, ab-specific moves are a key component of a well-rounded exercise program, but crunches alone won't get you great abs. So include some cardio-jumping rope is a great calorie burner (350 in half an hour).

Ideally we should be getting 30 minutes of fitness a day. But when time is tight, doing one of our 10-Minute Tuneups whenever you can fit it in can make a significant difference. Just getting into fitness? You can start with the lower-impact Easier Options. If you do those, gradually introduce the tougher moves until you're no longer doing the easier option. And, as always, check with your doctor before starting a workout plan.

1. Warm-up: 1 minute
Do gentle jumping jacks. Or simply march briskly in place while swinging arms to shoulder height.

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2. Cross-body mountain climbers: 1 minute

2. Cross-body mountain climbers: 1 minute

Works: Cardio, abdominals, chest, shoulders and triceps

(A) Start in a push-up position on your hands and toes, shoulders in line with wrists. Contract your abs and (B) draw your left knee across your body toward your right elbow, rotating hips slightly. Return to starting position. Quickly switch sides, bringing the right knee to the left elbow. Repeat sequence for a total of one minute.

Easier option: Do the move for 20 seconds; rest in position (A) for 20 seconds; continue the move for another 20 seconds.

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3. Forearm side planks: 2 minutes

Works: Obliques, shoulders, quadriceps and glutes

(A) Lie on your left side with elbow beneath your shoulder and supported on your left forearm. Feet should be stacked. Contract your abs and (B) raise hips and legs up until all of your weight is on your left elbow and left heel. Hold for 30 seconds. Lower hips and switch to your right side for 30 seconds. Repeat sequence for a total of two minutes.

Easier option:
Switch sides every 15 seconds.

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4. Reverse crunches: 2 minutes

Works: Abdominals, obliques and hip flexors

(A) Lie on your back with knees bent, soles of your feet on the floor and arms by your sides, palms facing down. (B) Raise hips and knees, curling spine until your knees are above your shoulders. Slowly return to starting position by rolling down your spine-use your hands for support. Repeat sequence for a total of two minutes.

Easier option:
Do the move for 20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat this sequence for a total of two minutes.

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5. Double burpee with jump: 2 minutes

Works: Cardio, abdominals, glutes, quadriceps and calves

(A) Lower to a crouched position with hands under shoulders. (B) Jump both legs out behind you. Keep abdominals tight and do not allow your lower back to dip down. Bring legs back in, then jump both legs out behind you a second time. Return to crouched position. (C) Jump up as high as you can and land in a standing position. Return to crouched position. Repeat sequence for a total of two minutes.

Easier option:
From the crouched position, step back one leg at a time, and stand up (rather than jump) at the end. Repeat sequence for a total of two minutes.

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6. High-knee sprint: 1 minute

Works: Chest, triceps and abdominals

Sprint on the spot, bringing your knees up as high as your hips. Be sure to keep abdominals engaged throughout.

Easier option:
Sprint on the spot for 20 seconds; rest for 20 seconds; sprint for another 20 seconds.

Cool-down: 1 minute

For 30 seconds, walk around the room, taking deep breaths. For the remaining 30 seconds, gently stretch the major muscle groups you've just worked: calves, quadriceps, hip flexors, glutes, obliques, abdominals, triceps, shoulders and chest.

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6 moves for a slimmer belly