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  • Nikki Cagle

3-Week Ab Challenge: Planks, Crunches & Weighted Abs

Abs for dayssss... 21 days, to be exact. I made up this 3-week challenge to get my mom-tum summer ready, and I gotta tell ya, for just a couple minutes a day it really does the trick!

I didn't want to make this so hella-long that I'd never stick to it — I knew, at most, I could carve out 5-10 minutes per day, and stay interested for a few weeks. Who doesn't have 5 minutes first thing in the AM {before you even change out of your PJs}, or last thing at night {while you binge Housewives}? Ya do. Trust me. Do I need to break out my whole "I'm a twin mom with two jobs and a firefighter husband" schpeal again? I didn't think so.

Week 1 kicks off with planks to help strengthen your core all the way down. Week 2 gets into crunches, which were my gateway abs workout eonsss ago. And Week 3 closes out with weighted abs, because now that you have the strength, let's shred that core!

Speaking of gateway abs... I stick to my original inspiration. Bald or not.

Week 1: PLANKS

I have a love-hate relationship with planks — probably because they're one of my most dreaded workout moves, but I know they work, so I know they're a must. I can do crunches all day long, but planks give me a pit in my stomach. Nonetheless, I know they're necessary because they totally proved themselves when I was postpartum and needed to restrengthen my core and get that mama-pouch to lift. Over a couple months I saw my droopy kangaroo pouch shrink up — and anytime I need to cinch it in before I start shredding it {especially when it comes to the lower pouch area}, I know I need to do the dreaded... #joinme! #itsfun! #itsnotbutitsnecessary

I know what you're thinking — 2 minutes and 30 seconds holding a plank!? Pssshhhhh. Girl, bye. I know, I get it — but it's totally doable, over time. Anddd with a little help from plank distractors — aka, moves that mix up your plank and distract your mind from the fact that you're still holding a plank. Here are my go-to plank distractors:


Almost 20 years ago {holyyy cow, when did I get old enough to say I did something 20 years ago... I digress...} I decided I didn't want to be miserable in my own body anymore — but I didn't know where to start, so I started small... Actually, no, I lied. I went all in and did like 1,000 bicep reps in one day so I could magically wake-up skinny and I ended up over-exhausting my muscles so badly that I had to wear slings on my arms for weeks. This is no joke — ask my mom, or my doctor who put me in slings. I was humiliated, and I realized right then and there that this would be a lifetime lifestyle change, not a quick fix. So then I started small, and I cut one bad thing from my diet and added one workout to my regimen. I cut out all soda, and added crunches {because, again, B.Spears abs}. At 16 years old I would lay on the floor every night and do my crunches. That's how it all started for me, so I will forever have a special place in my abs for crunches.

I kid you not when I tell you that these were the exact moves I did every night for years. I could do them in my sleep — but I realize that they're not a "duh" for everyone, so here's a breakdown of exactly how you should be positioned:


After two weeks of building your core strength, it's time to SHRED those abs. You know how you do cardio to shed fat, and then you lift weights to tone your newly slim bod? This is the same concept. First you shed the fat with planks and crunches {cardio for abs}, and then you shred them with weights. I like to go heavier because your abs are stronger than you think, so I typically use 8-12lb. weights, but I may up the ante and use 12-15lbs. this time around. These moves are hard enough on their own, so any weight will make a difference — choose what works for you! You can also do a drop set, especially as we get into higher reps later in the week. Start heavier, and then alfway through drop down to something lighter.

Teapot tiltssss, ya'll — now there's an ab move I could do all dang day. They kill your obliques in the best way possible. What is a teapot tilt you ask? Here's a breakdown of all of the weighted abs moves:

Now, here's the real challenge: Take a picture on day 1, 7, 14, and 21. Even if you just keep it hidden away on your phone, you owe it to yourself to see your progress. Sometimes it's so hard to see in the mirror staring back at you {trust me — sometimes I still see that 183lb. girl}, but when you do a picture comparison side-by-side, you'll see the difference and it will keep pushing you. Plus, every-time you open your photos and see those pictures it will hold you accountable and keep pushing you to finish out the challenge. Want to really hold yourself accountable? Post your progress pics on Instagram, tag me @thenikkicagle, and use hashtag #SilverLiningAbs. Because, here's the thing — it may be hard work now, but the silver lining is core strength, abs, crop topsss, and feeling downright proud from the inside out. Who's with me!?


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