Targeting Your Core: Ab Exercises for Definition
A toned stomach is a common fitness goal for many gym-goers. While some might design their workouts for a rock-hard six pack, others aim for a toned midriff.
Wherever you find yourself on this scale, increasing the strength of your abdominal muscles, and thereby increasing your core strength, is a great fitness goal. Ab exercises will increase your abdominal strength, which will help to prevent injury in other walks of life and improve your abilities in other forms of exercise. Having a strong core will also help stability and posture.
Individuals have varying abilities and needs when it comes to physical fitness. What this means is, a given set of exercises may not produce the same results for two people. Especially when it comes to targeting the abs, different exercises may suit different people.
What About Diet?
While ab exercises will strengthen the abdominal region and the core, they won’t act as a magical ab creator.
Fitness is part of a healthy lifestyle: that includes both diet and exercise. Strengthen your abdominal muscles, but remember that a clean and healthy diet will be largely responsible for physical changes.
Let’s Have a Look at Some Great Ways to Target Your Abs!
Below, we’ve included some great exercises which will target your abdominal region and tone your stomach and waist.
These include exercises for beginners and those with a weaker core, as well as “buddy” exercises. Buddy exercises (working out with a partner) can be a great way to motivate yourself to go to the gym!
Let’s get started!
Ab Workouts for Everyone
It can be tricky getting started with ab exercises. When starting out, it’s important to watch out for neck and lower back placements. For instance, it’s important to avoid accidental neck strain when doing crunches.
If you are unsure about any of the exercises below, or if you feel any pain or sensitivity while performing these activities, please let a member of our staff know so that they can help out.
The great thing about the following exercises is their adaptability. Increase or decrease the weights, reps and sets to tailor this workout to your level!
Let’s Get Those Abs!
For the following exercises, do each for 30 seconds, with a 15 second rest in between. Repeat the circuit five times (if five feels like too many, do three, and work up towards five. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become!).
Russian Twists: Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Lean back until your body is at a 45-degree angle with feet hovering just off the floor. Hold a weighted plate with both hands in front of your chest. Slowly twist your torso to the left side holding the weight. That counts as one rep. Pause and then rotate to the right side. Repeat for thirty seconds.
Up-Down Plank: Hold a high plank position with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your core engaged lower your right elbow to the mat and then your left, coming into an elbow plank.
Put your right hand on the mat and straighten your right elbow. Do the same on the left to return to a full plank. That counts as one rep.
Side Plank Dips: Lie on your left side with legs stretched out and place your elbow on the floor directly underneath your shoulder with palm facing the ground. Stack your feet on top of each other and lift your body up to neutral. Squeeze your core then dip your hips down toward the floor then raise them back into a side plank. After 30 seconds, repeat on the right side.
Bicycle Crunch: Lie flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Straighten your right leg out to a 45-degree angle to the ground whilst twisting your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee. Switch sides and do the same motion on the other side. Repeat.
Lying Leg Raise: Lie on the floor with your legs straight and together. Keep your legs straight and lift them up to the ceiling until your bum comes off the floor. Slowly lower your legs back down until they are just above the floor. Hold for a second then raise your legs back up. Repeat.
For many people, working out with a friend or partner gives them the motivation they need to push themselves harder and further at the gym. If this sounds like you, we’ve included a few ab exercises that can be easily done with a partner below. Check them out!
For each, do three sets of ten reps, with a one-minute rest in between sets.
Toe Taps: Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Have your partner lie down facing you, interlacing their feet with yours. At the same time as your partner, squeeze your abs to lift your shoulders off the floor then tap your hand to your left ankle, then tap your right hand to your right ankle.
Up and Down Plank with Clap: Start in high plank position with your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and glutes. Place one elbow on the mat. Then the other elbow. Place your right hand on the mat and then your left hand on the mat and straighten both arms to get back to starting position and clap your partners hand.
Medicine Ball Sit-Ups: Grab a medicine ball and lie on the floor with feet flat on the floor. Have your partner lie down facing you, interlacing their feet with yours. At the same time as your partner, squeeze your abs to perform a sit-up, then pass the medicine ball to your partner. Lower your shoulders slowly back to starting position.
And Don’t Forget to Stretch
And here’s your faithful reminder to remember to stretch after your workout! We know how tempting it can be to grab your gear and head for the couch as soon as you’re done, but as we wrote in our blog post on the important of stretching, you don’t want to miss out on getting the most from your workout with a good stretch!
Stretch out with the following positons, holding each for 10-15 seconds:
Cobra: Lie face down. Press into the floor with both hands. Be sure to keep your elbows close to your body, pointing behind you instead of out to the sides. Engage your abs by drawing your belly button toward your spine. Lift into a low cobra pose by using your back and abdominal muscles to bend your back backwards.
Cow/Cat Stretch: Start on your hands and knees. Keep the neck long by looking down and out. Inhale and arch your back, curling your toes under. Exhale and round for cat pose, releasing the tops of your feet to the floor.
For more stretching ideas, check out our blog post on stretching.