Everyone wants to have great abs. A six-pack is one of the most symbolic images of someone fit and in good shape. But having solid abs is about more than just aesthetics. A strong core has many benefits for your body beyond just looking good.
Getting good abs is easier said than done. The good news is that this list of the best exercises for core and abs will have you shredded in no time. The best part is that many can be done at home or with at-home fitness equipment.
Keep reading to learn about your abs and core and the exercises that will help you get great abs.
Why Do You Need to Exercise Your Core and Abs?
Your core muscles include your abs and your back and pelvis muscles. A strong core can improve your balance and posture and help prevent lower back pain.
Your abs are an essential part of the core muscle group, and having strong abs can improve athletic performance in activities like running and weightlifting.
What Do Your Abs Do?
Your abs have a few main functions in your body. They help with stabilizing and moving the trunk of your body, as well as helping with breathing by assisting in the expansion and contraction of your diaphragm.
There are four main muscle groups in your abs: the rectus abdominis, the transverse abdominis, the external obliques, and the internal obliques.
The rectus abdominis, commonly known as the “six-pack” muscles, is responsible for flexing and rotating your spine. The transverse abdominis helps with stabilizing your core and supporting your spine. The external and internal obliques assist in twisting and bending at the waist.
The Importance of Nutrition and Getting Abs
Many fitness experts say abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. This is because nutrition is crucial for toned abs.
Eating a balanced diet with lean protein, vegetables, and whole grains can help you maintain muscle. A poor diet is one of the most common self-sabotaging actions that negatively impacts your workout.
It doesn’t matter how strong your abs are; if you have body fat, it will be difficult to see them. Exercising while maintaining a calorie deficit is one of the essential steps to developing a defined core and abs.
How To Create a Good Ab Workout
To get the best results from your ab workout, it’s crucial to vary your exercises and target all muscle groups in your abs.
Including exercises that stabilize your core, like planks and bird dogs, is essential. It’s also critical to include exercises that flex and rotate the spine, such as crunches and Russian twists.
Taking breaks between sets is crucial for your muscles to recover and grow. Aim for at least 30 seconds to one minute of rest between sets.
It’s also essential to have a balanced workout routine that includes ab exercises and cardio, and strength training.
In addition, make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet to support muscle growth and recovery.
The Best Exercises for Your Abs and Core
These are the best exercises for your abs and core. Incorporate them into your workouts to get shredded.
High Boat to Low Boat
This at-home exercise targets your lower abs and obliques. Start by sitting on the ground with your legs lifted at a 45-degree angle and arms extended behind you for balance. Slowly lower your legs and torso towards the floor, keeping them at a 45-degree angle. Then, lift back up to starting position.
Hanging Leg Spirals
The hanging leg spiral targets the lower abs while also engaging the obliques and hip flexors. To perform this ab exercise:
- Hang from a pullup bar or sturdy bar at chest height and lift your legs toward the ceiling while twisting at the waist to bring your knees toward one side of your body.
- Return to the center and repeat on the other side for one rep.
- Perform three sets of 10 reps.
The butterfly sit-up is one of the more awkward exercises, but it is highly effective. This at-home exercise targets the rectus abdominis and the hip flexors. To complete this exercise:
- Sit with your feet together and knees out to the sides like a butterfly.
- Place your hands behind your head and lean back until you feel a slight stretch in your abs.
- Crunch up towards your knees while simultaneously bringing your knees towards your chest.
Seated Ab Circle
The seated ab circle is a hardcore abdominal exercise that will get your blood pumping and your abs burning. This at-home exercise requires a fitness ball and can be done at any level by adjusting the range of motion.
Start by sitting on the ball with your feet flat on the ground, holding onto a weight plate or dumbbell at chest level. Rotate your upper body to the left and right, focusing on using your abdominal muscles to control the movement. This exercise targets the obliques and rectus abdominis.
Plank Punch Out
The plank punch out is a beginner exercise for targeting your obliques. Begin in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Punch one arm at a time towards the ceiling, keeping your hips steady and avoiding twisting at the waist. Perform three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Banded Pull Downs
Banded pull-downs require at-home fitness equipment in the form of bands. This exercise is highly effective but a little more difficult because of the requirements. It targets the upper abs but also works your arms and back simultaneously.
- Begin by standing on the band with both feet and grabbing onto the handles at shoulder width.
- Pull down toward your chest, using control as you return to the starting position.
- Do three sets of 12-15 reps for best results.
Recline Elbow to Knee Tuck
This exercise requires no equipment and is great for your lower abs. To execute this move, lie on your back with your arms behind your head and legs extended straight toward the ceiling. As you exhale, bring one knee toward your chest while simultaneously bringing your opposite elbow to meet it in a crunch motion.
The sledgehammer swing is one of the most fun exercises on this list. It is a great way to get out some frustration or anger while also getting a killer ab workout.
Begin by standing with a sledgehammer at your side, gripping the handle tightly. Swing the hammer up and over your head toward the ground at an angle, keeping your core engaged throughout. Do three sets of 12-15 reps on each side.
Mountain climbers target upper and lower abs and work the arms and shoulders. It can also become a cardio workout as you build up your strength. It truly is an all-in-one exercise.
- Start in a plank position with your hands on the ground at shoulder width.
- Bring one knee toward your chest at a time, alternating as you go.
- Keep your core engaged and maintain control throughout the motion.
- Do reps until failure with one minute of rest between each repetition.
The tornado chop has one of the best names of any ab exercise and is a great exercise to help you work towards a six-pack. It targets the obliques, or your side abs, and can work the arms and shoulders.
Begin with both feet on a stability ball at shoulder width. Hold a kettlebell at one shoulder while twisting at the waist to bring it down towards the opposite foot on the ball. Return to starting position as you switch sides. Do three sets of 12-15 reps on each side for maximum results.
The Russian twist is one of the most famous ab exercises in existence. This exercise got its name because Russian Olympic athletes popularized it. It targets the obliques and rectus abdominis, making it a great addition to any at-home ab workout.
Initiate this exercise by sitting on the ground with your knees and feet on the floor. Lean back at a 45-degree angle, holding onto a weight plate or dumbbell at your chest. Twist at the waist from side to side, keeping your core engaged at all times.
Last but not least, bicycle crunches are an excellent exercise for targeting the entire abdominal muscle group. Begin lying on your back with your hands on either side of your head, lifting both knees at a 90-degree angle.
Alternate bringing one knee in toward the chest while straightening the opposite leg at a 45-degree angle and bringing your opposite elbow to meet it in a crunch motion. Repeat on the other side, completing until failure.
These are just a few of the many exercises out there for strengthening your core and abs. Remember to focus on engaging your core throughout each movement and control the motion at all times for maximum effectiveness. Mix these exercises with cardio and other strength training exercises using at-home fitness equipment to create a well-rounded fitness routine.
What are your favorite ab exercises? Let us know in the comments below.
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