Calisthenics involve movements that are generally performed without weights. Instead, one’s own body weight is used as resistance. These exercises help strengthen numerous muscles throughout the body, including abdominal muscles. The following calisthenic exercises can greatly improve the strength of your abdominal core:
Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent, and arms by your side or behind your head. Slowly raise your upper body so that your shoulders are completely off the floor. Make sure that you back is kept straight to minimize the usage of other muscles to perform this exercise. Slowly lower your body back to starting position. Try to maintain tension in your abdominal muscles for greater effect. Repeat until muscle failure.
2. Twisting Crunches
This is similar to regular crunches, except that your torso will be twisted on the way up, rather that traveling in a linear fashion. Begin the same way as you would start regular crunches. Slowly lift your upper body diagonally so that your shoulder will head for the opposite knee. Slowly lower your body back to the starting position, making sure to keep the abdominal muscles flexed at all times. Repeat on the other side, until your abdominals are physically exhausted.
3. Exercise Ball Crunches
These crunches are performed in a similar fashion as regular crunches, except that an exercise ball is used. Begin by laying with your back against the exercise ball, and your hips level with the ball. Your feet should be planted on the floor, with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Slowly roll up by contracting your abdominals, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat as many times as possible.
4. Reverse Exercise Ball Roll-Outs
This exercise is performed while facing the floor. Begin by placing your hands flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Your body should be kept as straight as possible, with the top of your feet resting on the ball. Slowly bring the ball towards you by bending your knees. Slowly return to starting position by extending your legs until they are straight again.
5. Side Bridge
Begin by laying on your side, holding your body up with one bent arm parallel to the floor. Your entire body should be kept straight, with your feet maintaining pressure at the bottom end. Your abs should be kept as tight as possible to make sure your body is kept straight. Lack of abdominal tension will allow your body to bend at the hips toward the floor. This position should be held for as long as possible, but between 30 to 60 seconds is optimal.
6. Leg Raises
Begin this exercise by laying flat on your back with your legs straight out, and your arms at the side. Slowly lift your legs up, ensuring that your legs are kept straight. Bring them up until your legs are at a 45 degree angle with the floor. Slowly lower them to starting position. This exercise can also be performed by using an exercise ball in between your feet.
These exercises should be performed until muscle failure. This means that you should perform the movements until the muscle is physically exhausted. Doing so will add greater muscle tone and strength. In addition, two or three sets should be performed, with as many repetitions as necessary to reach muscle failure.