You can’t picture Julianne Hough without also picturing her rock-hard six-pack. No seriously, just try—it’s impossible. That’s why it’s so surprising that the triple threat claims she doesn’t do a single exercise specifically targeted to her abs. Instead of endless sit-ups, Hough’s powerful core is simply courtesy of her passion: dancing.
“I’m so used to dancing that I’ve never really focused on my abs,” Hough told Self. “But when I was at a wedding the other day, I was teaching a friend how to do a couple of samba moves, and she goes, ‘Oh my gosh, this is why you have abs definition.’ And I was like, you’re right! With dancing, there are little tiny muscles that I feel like I get to work when I’m moving my whole body in a fluid motion.”
“I’m so used to dancing that I’ve never really focused on my abs. But when I was at a wedding the other day, I was teaching a friend how to do a couple of samba moves, and she goes, ‘Oh my gosh, this is why you have abs definition.'” —Julianne Hough
Unlike with traditional abs exercises that target specific parts of your core, dancing can easily reach even the hardest-to-tone areas, like the obliques, giving you a stronger midsection overall. And according to Jacque Crockford, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, you’ll be giving your abs a workout, even if you don’t realize it. In fact, a lot of dance moves all but require a super-strong core: “If the arm is raised out the side, in order for the trunk of the body to maintain its position, the transverse abdominis must engage,” Crockford says. “If the leg is lifted to the front or back, in order for the chest to stay tall or maintain its position and balance, the rectus abdominis and erector spinae must be active.”
With all the twists and rotations your body naturally does during a high-vibe dance sesh—whether it’s in your bedroom to your favorite playlist or in a dance-cardio class like Body By Simone or AKT—you’re sure to wind up with sweat dripping down your face and a serious core burn. Plus, it’s a sneaky way to avoid the need to do even one more plank or sit-up again; you can groove your way to a toned core instead.
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