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My abs and I are on speaking terms and they’re becoming stronger and more confident. I’m experimenting with new moves. I tried a routine from Muscle and Fitness magazine last Fall and it was too challenging at the time. I’m trying it again and it’s just right.

They break the sessions down by ab muscle categories: transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, and internal and external obliques. One of the transverse moves is the Ball Lock Hold, an isometric exercise. Looks simple enough. Looks like it won’t do anything, but you do it. Lying on your back you bend your knee so it’s over your hip and your calf is perpendicular to the floor. You take a medicine ball, place it on top of your knee (like you’re kneeing a soccer ball), then put your elbow on the ball so it’s locked between your elbow and your knee. Hold for 60 seconds. Enjoy.

All you’re doing is holding a ball between your elbow and your knee and pressing down. You feel your ab muscles pop like popcorn kernels. You will swear the second hand is getting stuck on the clock numbers or the other hands because you’ve been holding longer than 60 seconds. After you do one side, you repeat on the other side to even out the pain.

At first the hardest part of the exercise was keeping the ball between my elbow and knee. It kept rolling and slipping so I’d have to start the minute over or ball park how long I have held it. I also started with 30 seconds. My muscles insisted on that or they were popping out of my skin. So I started with 2 rounds of 30 seconds. Now I do the full 60.

What I like about the whole routine and this exercise is it’s simple yet effective. I feel individual muscle fibers shocked out of their comfort zone (what did I do to them? They trusted me. We were finally talking and now I do this) the way my quads feel after I do certain routines. The article said if you want shapely abs you need to train them the way you train any other body part. They can’t be an after thought. They will not be an after thought after 2 sets of this exercise.

What’s your favorite ab exercise? Let me know.