A killer midsection – who doesn’t want one of those? Wanting amazing abs and actually getting them are two very different things. If you think that performing hundreds of crunches on a daily basis is the way to get the abs of your dreams, you are very much mistaken. Not only will this lead to hip flexor tightness, back and neck injuries and poor posture, but it will also mean that you are not performing the exercises that will actually get you that dream midsection. Effective core exercises need to target not only the outer, visible abs, but also the inner core muscles. Here are my top 3 core exercises for killer abs:
PLANK STEP UPS
Start in a traditional plank position with your forearms on the ground and your body perfectly straight. Maintain a straight line from your toes to your shoulders throughout the exercise by engaging your core.
Lift one hand and place in directly below your shoulder, straightening your arm. Then lift the other hand and place in directly below your shoulder, straightening your arm. You are now in the raised plank positions (also known as the push-up position).
Lower yourself one arm at a time back into the plank position. That is one rep. In your next rep, start with the other arm. Work your way up to completing a total of twenty reps.
Throughout the entire exercise, try to keep your body completely still so it does not sway from side to side as you step up and down. This will require extreme core engagement and it will ensure you are getting the most out of the exercise.
The plank is one of the only exercises where you’re targeting your entire core. You’re working the front and back of your abdominal area at the same time without any equipment. You’re also hitting your rectus abdominis, your obliques, and your lower back. It’s simple and effective and you can do it anywhere.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and arms by your side, palms facing down. Exhale and raise your head and shoulders off the mat, while simultaneously extending your legs out and straightening your knees, (your body will now be in a V position).
Inhale and vigorously pump your arms up and down 5 times (approximately 6 inches up and down). Then exhale and pump your arms 5 more times.
Continue this pattern for 100 pumps in total, or 10 full breaths. Be sure to curl your chin towards your chest, keep your lower back pressed in towards the floor and your lower abs pulled in towards your spine.
The hundreds exercise hits your entire core and it builds strength as well as stamina. By forcing you to breathe throughout the exercise, it helps you to fully engage your abs and enables to you develop a flat and defined midsection.
Lie on your back with your hands placed gently behind your head and your elbows wide. Raise your legs and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle.
Bring your right elbow towards your left knee and extend your right leg outwards. Then switch sides and bring your left elbow towards your right knee, extending the left leg. Build up to performing this exercise for a full 60 seconds.
Try and hold the crunch for a two-count on each side to force a slower, concentrated movement.
This movement targets all three key areas at the same time. It combines a regular crunch, the side-to-side motion that targets the obliques, and the reverse crunch that hits the lower abs.
Ditch the crunches and replace them with these three killer abs moves and you’ll be well on your way to achieving the midsection of your dreams.
About the Author
Julia Lette is a qualified Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach and Lifestyle Writer. She has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2009 and is the founder and owner of Gaia Wellness. She has a strong passion for promoting health and wellness and uses this passion to help others achieve their health and fitness goals. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Naturopathy and aims to incorporate herbal medicine into her holistic approach to health and wellness. Julia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website and Instagram.
HEADER PIC: GETTY IMAGES