Most of us spend a lot of time working on the highly scrutinized abs. So everyone always wants to know the best ab workouts.
While there aren’t simply one or two exercises that are far superior at sculpting your midsection, it is best to perform a variety of ab workouts to hit all the muscle groups and incorporate different challenges.
But first, note:
- Visibly toned abs come from a combination of cardio, strength and core work. Exclusively doing ab workouts alone won’t make you fit, and while this can improve your strength, it may not deliver the noticeable results you’re after. Do cardio for fat burning and overall strength exercises as well to see change.
- Some people say that “abs are made in the kitchen,” and there is some truth to this. If you perform a ton of core work but consistently eat and drink too many calories, you won’t see a washboard. Because a layer of fat covers the muscles, it’s likely that your hard work won’t show.
- In addition to isolated ab exercises, take on other core workouts, including yoga, Pilates, boot camp and kickboxing to continually shape the center of the body.
With that said, here are some recommended ab exercises of the many out there. Do a few, in different combinations, during workouts:
- Plank – Get in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and feet together. Or you can do this on your forearms with your hands apart. Pull the belly button in and keep your head and neck in line with the spine and legs. Hold for 10-60 seconds, rest and repeat.
- Side plank with a twist – With right hand and right knee on mat, place left hand behind head and extend left leg. Twist from waist to rotate left shoulder down toward the floor, then open and repeat 10-15 times before switching sides. To make this harder, extend both legs.
- Tuck–extend – Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on floor and your hands behind you. Float your feet off the floor and tuck the knees to the chest, then extend the legs straight and lean back. Repeat. For more challenge, hold your arms off the floor and balance on your sitz bones.
- Russian twist – Seated with knees bent, lean back 30-45 degrees and rotate right to left, with arms crossed at chest holding elbows (or holding a medicine ball or dumbbell), twisting side to side, lowering the elbow, dumbbell or medicine ball toward each hip.
- Jackknife – Lying on your back with the arms overhead, contract your abs and reach up with the arms and legs into a V-sit. Hold for a few seconds, slowly release and repeat. If this is too difficult, sit with your hands or elbows behind you and reach up with the arms and bent knees or straight legs.
- Butterfly crunch – Lie on your back with soles of the feet tighter and knees dropped open. Put your hands behind your head or across your chest and slowly crunch up and down.
- Bicycle – Lying on your back, with knees bent over hips and fingers behind head, slowly rotate right shoulder toward the left knee and then switch. Emphasize moving from the waist, and don’t pull on your head or try to touch your elbow to the opposite knee.
- Scissors – Lying on your back, extend legs straight and hold right calf with leg perpendicular to floor, while lifting head and neck and hovering left leg above mat. Pulse the right leg in toward chest twice, then switch and pulse left leg in twice.