You want to work on defining your ab muscles so that they are stronger and more visible? Chances are you are going about it the wrong way!
Obviously you want to be doing some resistance training that targets the area of your core. If you are the kind of person that tends to carry around a little extra insulation, endurance or HIIT training are particularly important, as is ensuring you eat a healthy and balance diet. Yet where most people go wrong is that they use a couple of ab focused exercises and just stick with those.
Here is the surprising thing, the well-known “sit-up” isn’t your abs best friend like many people believe. There is no doubt that the sit-up has its place and can be an incredibly effect tool for making your abs temporarily appear more prominent. However they can also place unnecessary strain on your lower back and hips. If you are working on ab muscles that haven’t yet become visible, there are some other more rounded exercises that will not only be more effective in revealing your abs, but will also provide a safer and more all-rounded core strengthening workout.
Here are 5 ab focused exercises that require no equipment and can be done anytime, anywhere!
This isometric core strengthening exercise not only targets your abs but at the same time targets your upper and lower body so it is a great full body workout. It will help improve your flexibility and posture if performed regularly.
- Get into a push up position on the floor
- Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms
- Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders
- Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet
- Hold the position for as long as you can.
Your goal is to increase the length of time you can hold the plank.
Much like a normal plank, the side plank will help you develop a striking set of abs while strengthen your sides and deep abdominal muscles building functional core strength.
- Turn onto your right side with your legs extended and your feet and hips resting on the ground stacked on top of each other.
- Place your right elbow directly beneath your shoulder to prop up your torso, and align your head with your spine
- Gently contract your core and lift your hips and knees off the floor
- Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, gradually increasing up to a minute
- Return to the starting position on the opposite side and repeat
The bicycle crunch is a fantastic way of targeting your abs and at the same time working both your internal and external obliques.
- Lay flat on the floor and place your hands behind your head
- Raises your legs so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your calves are parallel to floor
- Keep your feet together
- Lift your head up and touch your right knee with your left elbow while pulling your knee up towards your head, at the same time straightening your left leg, keeping it a few inches off the floor
- Repeat with the opposite leg and elbow.
- As you lift your head, tense your abs. Use your abdominal muscles to crunch your body forward so that your elbow can reach your knee.
The movement is similar to pedalling a bicycle. Be careful to not pull on your head with your arms and strain your neck.
Double leg raises
This is another great way of targeting your lower abs.
- Lay flat on the floor, sucking the tummy button down into your spine
- Ensure that your back stays flat on the ground with no gap between your back and the floor
- Slowly raise both legs straight and together until they reach a 90 degree angle
- Slowly lower the legs back down and stop when they are close to the floor, ensuring your back remain flat on the floor. If you feel your back starting to arch stop.
- Repeat – as your abs get stronger you will be able to lower your legs closer to the floor.
Pike Crunch or V-Ups
Another beauty that will simultaneously work your abs and back muscles, giving you an overall core workout.
- Lie flat on the floor with the lower back pressed into the ground and arms extended behind your head
- Keep the feet together and the toes pointed at the ceiling
- In one movement lift the legs up keeping them straight and raise the upper body off the floor reaching for your toes with your hands
- Engage and squeeze the abdominal muscles as you reach for your toes
- Slowly lower the body back down to the starting position