Working out your abs isn’t just about doing a bunch of sit-ups. If you want a six-pack, you need to do more than just crunches, twists, and sit-ups. In fact, you might want to stop doing sit-ups altogether if you want to be smart about getting a six-pack.
You may feel discomfort when doing the following exercises, but it will be worth it in the end.
Abs are more than just a muscle group that can make you look good in a tight shirt. They are also important for improving your strength in other lifts, posture, and preventing back pain.
The abs are just as important as any other muscle group, so it’s important to do the right exercises.
Ab Exercises Benefits
There are many benefits to having a strong core, not just visible abs. These benefits can help anyone who wants to improve their fitness, whether they are runners, CrossFitters, or just general fitness enthusiasts. Some of the benefits include becoming faster, stronger, and more fit.
According to statistics from the Office for National Statistics, musculoskeletal problems including back pain cost the UK £12.3bn a year in lost work days and treatment costs. Canadian research suggests that a core-focused exercise regime including moves like side planks can help eliminate back pain.
If you find that you aren’t making as much progress as you’d like, it may be due to a lack of accessory work and a weaker core. A strong midsection will provide a solid foundation to help you lift heavier weights for more reps, generating more force throughout your body and keeping your back safe.
Ab exercises can improve your posture: A study found that men who took three hour-long pilates sessions a week for two months saw significant improvements in postural stability tests and exercises.
“A strong core helps keep your torso more stable when you move, whether you’re playing sports or just doing chores,” sports medicine specialist J. Christopher Mendler, M.D told Men’s Health. This will help with both your training and every day movements.
A strong core helps transfer power to your limbs, so you can punch harder, drive further, and hit a ball with more force. This makes you a better athlete at any sport.
The study found that participants who did core and instability exercises became more flexible and agile. These exercises include TRX exercises and single-leg moves.
The Anatomy of Your Abs
The key to shredded abs isn’t just exercising them, but understanding how they work. If you can focus on the right muscles, you’ll be able to get shredded abs in no time.
Your objective is to focus on exercises that pull your chest towards your pelvis to specifically target your upper abs. Here’s one to try:
- Starting on your back, extend your legs and keep your arms by your side
- In one movement, lift your upper-body, arms and legs to balance on your tailbone, forming a “V” shape
- Lower your body down. That’s one rep
The “middle abs” are a part of the “rectus abdominis” muscle group, which includes the muscles that make up the “six-pack.” These muscles are important for flexing the spine and bringing the pelvis and ribcage closer together. If you want to build a strong core, make sure you are doing your middle ab exercises correctly.
Try: Hollow Holds
- Lie on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your feet together. Extend your arms above your head
- Tilt your pelvis forward until your lower back is flush against the floor
- Maintaining this position in your lower back, raise your arms and legs a few inches off the floor to create a straight line from fingers to toes
The lower part of your abs are important for having a strong core. If you’re struggling too, here’s a quick coaching tip:
Try: Heel Tap Crunches
- Lie on your back with your heels near your glutes.
- Brace your core, lift your shoulders off the floor and reach down to touch your right heel with your right hand, then your left heel with your other hand. That’s one rep.
This exercise targets the lower abs, obliques, and hip flexors. You can make it harder or easier by adjusting the distance between your heels and glutes. Control the movement by making slow extensions to maintain tension.
8 of the Best Exercises to Get a Six-Pack
As you work through this routine, focus on pulling your navel towards your spine to keep your abs engaged. If you’re doing any exercises on your back, make sure to press your lower back into the floor so your abs have to work, not your spine. The 8 moves below are some of the best exercises you can do for your abs. Mix and match them to create a workout that will help you get stronger quickly.
Time: 10 to 20 minutes
Equipment: Resistance band, yoga block (both optional)
Good for: Abs, core
Choose three exercises from the list. For each exercise, perform it for 30-60 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. Repeat this for three to five rounds. In between rounds, rest for 15-30 seconds.
1. Glute Bridge March
To do this exercise, lie on your back with your legs bent and heels under your knees. Place your feet flat on the floor and extend your arms over your chest, with your palms facing. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Brace your abs and lift your right knee over your hip, maintaining a 90-degree angle of that leg. Hold for a moment, then lower your right foot. Repeat with the left leg. That’s one rep. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds, then immediately continue on to your next move. Once you’ve completed all three of your exercises, rest for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat for three to five total rounds.
Good for: rectus abdominis, transverse abs
This exercise is effective for working two sections of your abs as well as your glutes, which is helpful for maintaining your balance.
2. Mountain Climber
How to: 1. Start in a plank position. 2. Drive right knee toward chest, return to a plank and quickly repeat with left knee. That’s one rep. 3. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds, then immediately continue on to your next move. 4. Once you’ve completed all three of your exercises, rest for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat for three to five total rounds.
Good for: rectus abdominis
This workout makes your core muscles burn and gets your heart rate up, both of which will help improve your fitness.
3. Shoulder Tap And Jack
To do a plank jump, get into a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Tap your right shoulder with your left hand, then jump your feet outward and return to the start position. Repeat on the other side. Do three to five rounds of this exercise, resting for 15 to 30 seconds between rounds.
Good for: obliques, transverse abs, rectus abdominis
This exercise is beneficial because it targets all areas of the core and elevates the heart rate for an added cardiovascular benefit.
To do this exercise, lie on your back with your arms extended towards the ceiling, and your legs bent to 90 degrees so that your knees are above your hips. Keep your low back pressed into the floor, engage your abs, and then slowly extend and lower your right leg until your heel nearly touches the floor. At the same time, lower your left arm until your hand is nearly touching the floor overhead. Pause, and then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Once you have completed all three exercises, rest for 15 to 30 seconds, and then repeat for three to five total rounds.
Good for: rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abs
This move is good for posture and easing low-back pain because it requires slow and controlled movement which strengthens and stabilizes the muscles without straining the neck.
5. Side Plank
To start this move, lie on your side with your right forearm flat on the floor. Your elbow should be under your shoulder, and your legs should be extended. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. You can stack your feet or stagger them. Engage your core and lift your hips up. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Immediately continue on to your next move. Once you’ve completed all three of your exercises, rest for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat for three to five total rounds.
Good for: obliques, transverse abs, rectus abdominis
One of the reasons that side planks are so effective is that they help you avoid strength imbalances by working your core, hips, and shoulders one side at a time.