Want to dominate your office mates in the next company basketball game? Work on your abs.
Adding core exercises to your gym regimen can benefit your overall athletic performance, finds a recent review in Sports Medicine. Researchers analyzed 24 studies that examined the relationship between core stability training and athleticism, and found that people who trained their core saw improvements in tests of general strength–like squat load and vertical leap–at the end of their studies.
So if you’re growing tired of your stale situp routine, check out these three ab-sculpting moves created by B.J. Gaddour, C.S.C.S., creator of Speed Shred, the cutting-edge 8-DVD workout series from Men’s Health.
Assume a push-up position, keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your elbows soft and slightly flexed. With your palms firmly planted into the floor, hop your feet to the left, back to the middle, to the right, and then back to the middle once more. This move is best performed for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, and your hips and shoulders should stay squared throughout the movements. Want to make it harder? “Increase the height and distance of each hop so that you nearly assume a handstand push-up position with the up-down motion,” says Gaddour. Another intense variation: Hop from left to right using only a single hop, eliminating the pause in the middle.
Assume a bent-knee push-up position with your palms loaded, hands underneath your shoulders, knees bent at 90-degree angles, and you should be positioned on the balls of your feet.
Kick your right leg underneath you as you roll on to your right hand to assume a one-arm, one-leg hip bridge position. Hold for a count and then reverse the movement, keeping this going for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. To up the intensity, either increase your speed of motion or perform the isometric holds (like when you’re in the one-arm, one-leg hip bridge position) for 3 to 5 seconds at a time on each side, advises Gaddour.
Keeping your abs and glutes tight, assume a pushup position. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders with your palms loaded, and make sure you’re forming a straight line from your head through your heels, says Gaddour. Without moving your lower back, push your hips back until your knees flex to about 90-degree angles and your head trails behind your hands. Pause for a count. Then, explosively extend through your knees, ankles, and hips as you lower into the bottom of a pushup. Make sure you keep your elbows tucked tight against your sides to protect your shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. Make it harder: Increase your speed of movement or perform the exercise with your feet closer together, says Gaddour. (Want more amazing moves for your core? Try The Incredible 82-Day Speed Shred today!)