After last week’s little discussion about Abs are Made in the Kitchen, I figured it was time to show you some of my favorite ab exercises that I perform each week.
1. My favorite, and what I think is the ultimate ab exercise of all time, is the plank.
I’m pretty sure most of you have seen this exercise. Not only does this exercise work your abs, but it works your entire core including your hips and back. If you’re just starting out, try to hold plank for 10 seconds then rest for 10 seconds. As your core gets stronger, start holding plank longer and longer up to 3 minutes! Remember not to let you hips and back sag. You need to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet.
There are some variations to the standard plank that I love too:
The side plank. In the picture, she is balancing on her hand, but for beginners, I recommend you start on your elbow. You can hold plank in the upward position or you can drop your hips towards the ground and then lift up again. This exercise works the entire core but you should feel it mainly in your obliques, the sides of your abs!
This killer plank move is the plank-to-push-up. You start in regular plank position, then push yourself up into a pushup position, and then lower back down to plank. Not only does this work your entire core, but it also works your shoulders, biceps, and triceps! I recommend starting with your knees on the floor the entire time, and once you feel strong enough, go to your toes.
2. Another ab exercise that I find challenging is the bicycle:
The bicycle works not only your transverse abdominis (lower, outer abs) and rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”), but also your obliques. To do this exercise properly, DO NOT LEAD WITH YOUR ELBOWS! You need to lead with your shoulders. Also, do not perform this exercise fast. Complete each rotation slowly, pausing when you get to the top of each twist. Keep your lower back pressed firmly to the mat, and never tug on your neck. Perform as many repetitions as you can.
3. Then there is the simple crunch:
Personally, I like to do a crunch on the stability ball. Not only is it easier on my back, but you can move the ball around to make it harder or easier. To make it harder, rest the ball in the small of your back. To make it easier, rest the ball on your upper back. Remember to keep your fingertips behind your ears and don’t tug on your neck to pull yourself up.
4. Another ab exercise with the stability ball is the knee tuck:
To perform this exercise properly, get into a pushup position with the ball under your ankles. Bend the knees and roll the ball in towards your chest, contracting your abs. Then roll the ball back out to pushup position. If you really want to make it tough, do a pushup and then roll the ball back in!
5. The last ab exercise I’m going to share is the reverse crunch:
I love this exercise because it really targets your lower abs and your “six pack!” To begin, lie on the floor and place hands behind your head or beside you on the floor. Lift knees up to 90 degrees, and keeping feet together, lift your hips off the floor and bring your knees towards your chest. Lower and repeat. You only need to lift your hips off the ground a couple of inches. It’s important to use your abs to lift your hips, don’t swing your legs and use momentum.
There you have it, some of my favorite ab exercises that I perform each week. For most of these exercises, try doing 3 sets of 12 reps. I typically workout my abs 3 times a week, with a recovery day in between.
Now you are another step closer to achieving that six-pack!