When we hear the words “ab workout”, many of us immediately envision endless crunches and good old fashioned sit-ups. While these exercises do have a time and place, there is more than one way to burn off our muffin tops to find that hidden six pack of abdominal muscles. Whether you are a novice or a physical fitness guru, with a little concentrated effort and effective core exercises we can stretch and tone those illusive interconnected muscles we all secretly long for.
Exercise Smarter: Tips For Great Looking Abs
First of all, we need to realize that not everyone is created equal. We all have those friends who are blessed with great abs without a single crunch, while others have to target and strengthen their cores over a great amount of time before any definition is seen. This leaves numerous trainers to stress that good abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. However, even though reducing body fat is a great step for great looking abs, there are a few tricks to utilize during workouts to help us get those dreamed about ripped abs:
- Focus on moving our waists, not the hips. Any twisting motion can be maximized by isolating the movement above our bottom ribs.
- Tighten your core. Imagine you are zipping a pair of pants during each exercise and strive to feel a tightening in your muscles as you move.
- Focus on proper exhaling with each breathe. Deep and slow breathing during exercise can strengthen abs and offer our lower backs valuable protection.
The Two Week Ab Challenge Workout
When the above tricks are combined with exercises that engage multiple ab muscles, we can work our way to a tighter core and stellar abs and see results in just two weeks with the following abdominal circuit exercise plan:
- Begin with a light warm up of your choice.
- Include a three minute session of cardio that includes one minute of burpees, one minute of jumping jacks, and one minute of mountain climbers. This three minute session is important to remember, because we will use these movements several times throughout the two week ab challenge workout.
- Plank. Lie back down on the floor and get into a traditional pushup position. Instead of lowering your body, bend your elbows and put your forearms onto the floor. Stiffen your body, abs braced, and hold as long as you can.
- Try a side plank. Lie down on your side, support your body by resting that side’s forearm onto the floor. Next, raise your hips off the floor so you create a straight line, brace your abs, and hold for as long as you can. Repeat with the other side.
- Include another three minute cardio session from above.
- Move into a boat pose. Try this traditional yoga pose to help sculpt your ab muscles. Lie down on your back and position your feet on the floor with your knees bent. Using your stomach muscles, press your belly down toward the flooring and lift up your head and upper torso as you extend your legs up. Hold this pose for a minute, focusing on your breathing. After you master the basic boat position, you can alternate twisting each arm and torso as you reach across your body for more abdominal definition.
- Include leg crunches. Lie on your back and place your hands behind your head. Next, cross your ankles, and extend your legs up while remaining slightly bent at the knees. Now, lift your head off the ground and reach for your knees with your hands by contracting your ab muscles to achieve this movement. Relax. Repeat for 10 times. Take a deep breath. Do two more reps.
- Prepare to do an abdominal hold. Sitting on a sturdy chair or step, place your hands on the edge of the seat. Suck in your abs and bring your feet two to 4 inches off the floor and your bottom off the chair’s seat. In the beginning, aim to lift for 5 to 10 seconds. However, as you improve your strength and stability, try to hold this position for as long as you can. Lower your body. Take a deep breath and repeat the abdominal hold two more times.
- Do another round of the three minute cardio.
- Cool down with light stretching and beginner yoga poses to increase your stamina and focus on deep breathing.
What exercises do you use to target your abs?