We’ve all heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Well, 80% of physical results indeed come from diet.
However, you need to train your abs like any other muscle group to get them to show. Incorporating the right exercises will maximize your results. Here are three essential tips to help you do just that.
Despite being a simple exercise, planks are effective and a staple in many workout routines. However, many people don’t know that the basic plank has several variations that help further work your core muscles and avoid boredom.
One of the most straightforward variations is to place your hands on a medicine ball, which adds instability and increases the demand on your core muscles. Another variation is to “stir” the plank by moving your elbows on the ball to simulate stirring a pot while maintaining a tight core.
Both variations work well and should be added to your workouts as they can be performed in short increments, making them an ideal addition to a busy schedule. Additionally, incorporating exercises targeting the core muscles, such as planks and crunches, can help strengthen the abdominal muscles and contribute to building abs.
The crunch has gotten a bad rap, but it’s still an essential core-strengthening exercise. Just make sure to perform them properly and do everything correctly.
Take a lying position on the floor with your knees pressed into the earth somewhat broader than shoulder-width apart. Rest your fingertips behind your head, or if you’re comfortable with a bit more risk of neck strain, crisscross them on your chest.
Contract your abs to elevate your shoulder blades off the ground and maintain a few inches of separation. Refrain from pulling your shoulders up since this can activate your hip and back muscles, increasing your chance of injury.
Leg raises are crucial for building your six-pack, helping you build a stronger core and burn more fat. However, it would help if you did them correctly to reap their benefits. To maintain your back flat and prevent swinging or swaying, aim for a calm, deliberate movement.
A common mistake is arching your back, which takes the focus off your abs and can cause lower back pain. If you need help to raise your legs straight, try a variation like the hanging knee raise or the captain’s chair leg raise, which requires less strength. This allows you to perform more reps without compromising your form.
The core muscles are used in virtually every movement, and strengthening them can make your workouts more effective. The hip lift is one of the best exercises for this, and it can be performed at home with no equipment.
For beginners, a good starting point is to raise the hips as high as possible without letting them touch the floor. This will help prevent back pain while targeting the abs. Another good option is to place a pillow under the hips to remove any lower back stress and deactivate the hip flexors, allowing the abs to do more work. This is called the cradle hip lift.
Squats build overall muscle mass, including the abdominal muscles. They also work the core muscles to stabilize the spine during the exercise. While studies show that they may not directly target the abs, they engage them as stabilizers and require a solid core.
One way to make squats more abs-centric is to hold a kettlebell before the body. This prevents the hips from tucking under or “winking” at peak tension of the movement, which is an inefficient motion that places more stress on the knees and back.
Another abs-centric squat variation is the single-leg front squat. Stand with the barbell at or above the shoulders, bending the knees to lower into a squat position.
Deadlifts engage the core in a way that no other exercise can. They teach your muscles to contract their entire length stably under a heavy load, creating significant carryover for other weightlifting movements like squats and rack pulls.
Additionally, they work the lower, middle, and upper back muscles and the core to stabilize your spine. When performed correctly, hex bar deadlifts also target your gluteus maximus for a fuller ass. To perform a deadlift:
- To begin, thrust your butt back while standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge down and grab the bar with a wide grip.
- Take a small belly breath and brace your core to pull the bar off the floor aggressively.
A solitary exercise that targets the biceps brachii is the barbell curl. It’s a classic gym staple and one of the best ways to build a strong arm.
With the core braced and shoulders retracted, the lifter slowly curls the barbell toward their elbows. Then, they will squeeze the biceps and lower the barbell back to its original starting position.
The biceps muscles are made up of the biceps brachii and the brachialis. The barbell curl targets both of these muscle groups and will also strengthen the forearms and grip. This is why the barbell curl is an essential exercise for any lifter, even those without the size goals of a bodybuilder.
Push-ups are among the most common exercises that work the chest, shoulders, and triceps muscles. A standard push-up is done by lowering yourself until your hands or chest touches the floor and then pushing back up.
To make a standard push-up harder, perform the exercise while standing or holding on to an object to increase the weight load of each rep. This increases shoulder stability and targets the chest and triceps more than a standard push-up does.
Adding a balancing element, such as raising one knee toward the elbow of that side as you descend into a push-up — known as Spiderman push-ups — recruits abdominal muscles even more, according to a 2014 study published in “The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.” This variation also challenges core stabilization.