Everyone wants those cut, lean, sculpted abs! It takes some work though – you need to build strength in those muscles, build a little bit of bulk and then shred the fat around the abs. If you’re new to strength training, you need to keep in mind that core is a very important part of the body to keep strong as we age, and bring this list of exercises with you to get you started!
The plank is a very effective exercise for building strength in your abs. The trick is making sure there is tension happening in your abs as you hold it, contracting all of the muscles in your core. Get on all fours and place your forearms on the ground. Come up onto your toes and create a straight line from your head to your toes and remain still. Don’t let the arch of your back fall and don’t sink into the floor at your chest. It will only take a few seconds until you start to feel it all working, and you may even start shaking. Clench everything even tighter when that starts, and hold it as long as possible. Record that number and work to hold it a little bit longer each time.
The biggest reason to strengthen your core is so that you’re able to move your limbs while stabilizing your spine. The dead-bug lets you work your core muscles while helping to prevent any lower back discomfort. Lie on your back with your knees at 90 degrees over your hips. Raise both arms towards the ceiling, and get rid of the space between the floor and your lower back. Keep the core tight and extend one leg out while you exhale. When you can’t exhale anymore pull the leg back in and do it on the other side. If you want to make it harder, hold a weight in your hands or extend the opposite arm back at the same time that you extend a leg.
Slow Motion Mountain Climbers
These are a great way to target the really deep muscles of the core, and slowing down the movement of a mountain climber will help target the abs more specifically. Get into a pushup position and keep your toes on sliding disks. Squeeze your glutes hard to lock your core in place. Using your core, bring one foot forward as far as you can, and slowly bring it back out. Repeat on the other side. Aim for 3 seconds in and 3 seconds out, do this until you’re unable to hold your form any longer.
The abs and the glutes work together most of the time, so when you’re strengthening one it’s important to also strengthen the other. A glute bridge forces the entire back side of the lower body to support your body weight. Lay on your back, and place your feet under your hips. Slowly, by clenching the glutes, raise your hips so your body is a straight line from neck to knees. This is a great exercise to include in your warm ups.
Loaded carries are great for improving posture and they are a super practical exercise for when you’re outside of the gym. Basically, the loaded carries condition your abs to be hard and braced when you’re performing high-intensity movements. With proper form, pick up either two weight plates or two kettlebells and hold one in each hand. Brace the abs and walk slowly forward – do not give into the urge to slouch or drop the weights or curve your back. Keeping everything straight and aligned is the key to this exercise.
Reverse crunches are a great exercise for people who sit at a desk all day because even though crunches can actually promote slouching, reverse crunches help to avoid that. Lay on your back directly in front of a bench or a bar that you can grab onto overhead. Hold onto the bench and raise your legs up slowly, and once they are all the way to the top use your core to pull your hips off of the floor. Drop down slowly and return the legs back to normal position.