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Last Updated on September 27, 2020

5 Killer Stomach Workouts for Impressive Abs and Core

5 Killer Stomach Workouts for Impressive Abs and Core

Having a well-chiseled six pack is the ultimate fitness goal for many people, and it’s okay if you want great abs as well. Stomach workouts are great for building core muscles, but they’re also great for improving posture, supporting your spine and back, and offering a wider range of motion.

The problem is that many people never succeed in carving out the core of their dreams! For some people, the problem lies in their approach to working out, while others have got their nutrition wrong. Either way, there’s a remedy, and you can commence your journey to an impressive six pack starting today!

In this article, we’ll go over the non-sexy reasons for having a strong core. I’ll also be sharing some proven stomach workouts and core exercises that’ll help you carve out an impressive ab.

Why You Need Rock-Solid Abs

Believe it or not, there’s actually more to having a strong core than just good looks. Core muscles are required for just about everything we do on a daily basis, from sitting, to walking, running and throwing things around.

Before we go any further, though, you should probably know that there’s more to the core than just the abdominal muscles (abs). It also includes hip and pelvic muscles, as well as mid and lower back muscles. All these muscles work together to support movement and maintain stability.

Here are some benefits of having a strong core:

1. Helps Your Posture

When you engage in core-strengthening stomach exercises, the thorough working of the torso helps to maintain a balanced posture. The posture balance, in turn, helps to reduce the risk of vertebrae degeneration and disc herniation.

2. Reduces Back Pain

Having a strong core also helps to alleviate back pain by providing adequate support for the spine. Research has also revealed that having strong core muscles reduces the risk of back injury during workouts[1].

3. Improves Athletic Performance

You’re going to have a hard time finding a sport that doesn’t rely heavily on core muscles for effective performance. From running, to rowing, baseball, football, and tennis, every sport you could possibly think of engages the core in one way or another.

So, if you’re planning to become an athlete, then strengthening your core is absolutely indispensable.

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4. Makes Life Easier on the Job

Life will become a whole lot easier for you on the job if you can manage to strengthen your core. The reason is simple—just about every activity you engage in at work engages your core, from standing to lifting, twisting and even sitting.

Therefore, if you’d like to be a bit more comfortable and energetic at work, then strengthening your abs and back muscles would be a great place to start.

Now let’s get to those stomach workouts that will help strengthen the all-important core.

5 Amazing Stomach Workouts

Before diving into the specific workouts that will finally send your abs out of hiding, there are a couple of anatomical jargon you need to be familiar with. These are just fancy names for the muscles that make up the abs, and they are:[2]

  • Rectus abdominis (front abs, commonly known as six-packs)
  • Internal and external obliques (side abs, found around the waist).

Got it? Great! Keep those in mind because I’ll be mentioning them a lot in the coming paragraphs.

Now, let’s move on to the actual workouts.

1. Crunches

Regardless of the negative media crunches may have received over the years, one thing is for certain—they work…when done correctly!

Crunches are great for eliciting muscle activity in the rectus abdominis, and this helps greatly in strengthening those muscles.

How to Do Perfect Crunches
  • Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet closely together and flat on the floor. You may want to hold on to something with your toes to make it easier.
  • Place your hands behind your head (without interlocking them) or across your chest.
  • Keep your elbows open to the sides.
  • Gently tighten and pull in your abs.
  • Curl forward, lifting your head and shoulder blades off the floor towards your knee.
  • Hold it for a moment and lower back down slowly.

Several variations of the traditional crunch have been developed to focus on other core muscles ignored by regular crunches. One of these is the bicycle crunch or bicycle kicks. The bicycle crunch impacts the external obliques (on the side of the waist), in addition to the rectus abdominis, and this helps to work the torso.

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How to Do Bicycle Crunches
  • Start in the same position as a traditional crunch.
  • Lift your right knee off the floor, toward the left side of your chest, and simultaneously lift your left elbow to meet your right knee.
  • Repeat this process for the left knee and right elbow, and keep up this cycle until your abs are thoroughly worked.
  • Be sure to completely lift your shoulder blades off the floor to keep the action concentrated on your core.

Check out this video on how to do the bicycle crunch:

2. Planks

There’s a good reason why the plank has gained so much attention in the fitness industry—it works. Not only does it crush the rectus abdominis, but it also greatly impacts the external obliques and transverse abdominis, making it one of the best stomach workouts.

In simple terms, it rocks your abs in a way regular crunches don’t and also doesn’t give you back pain, no matter how long you hold out doing it.

Planks aren’t just a great workout for abs, though. It also does a great job strengthening the arms, shoulders, and glutes.

Just like the crunch, there are several variations of the plank, each adapted to focus on specific muscle groups that may have been ignored by others. Here, I’ll be discussing just two of them: the front plank and the side plank.

How to Do a Front Plank

The front plank is the basic plank position, and it targets your rectus abdominis. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start in the pushup position with your arms placed shoulder-width apart, and place your feet shoulder-width apart or together.
  • Rest your weight on your forearms, with your palms facing the ground, and maintain a 90-degree angle between your shoulders and forearm.
  • Raise your hips slightly, and form a straight line from your head to your feet.
  • Hold the position for as long as you can before your form collapses.
  • Rest for a few minutes and repeat.
  • If this isn’t challenging enough, raise an arm and a leg to increase the difficulty level.

How to Do a Side Plank

Apart from strengthening the front abs, the side plank also works the external obliques and transverse abdominis, helping you to carve out that dreamy physique in your midsection.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie on your right side, supporting your body by placing your right forearm on the floor.
  • Place your left leg on the right leg while maintaining this position.
  • Lift your hip off the ground, maintaining a straight line from your shoulder to your feet.
  • Lift your left arm into the air to maintain balance.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can (one or two minutes is fine).
  • Rest for a few minutes and repeat for the other side.
  • To increase the difficulty level, you can raise the top leg.

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3. Russian Twists

The Russian twist is an amazing workout for just about every muscle in your core as you twist from side to side. The obliques are the more obvious beneficiaries, though, as the side-to-side motion really impacts the torso and helps to carve out an impressive side.

And just like the other stomach workouts listed so far, no serious gym equipment is required. All you need is some floor space and the will to keep going!

How to Do Russian Twists
  • Sit on the ground, and bend your knees to create a 90-degree angle between your upper and lower legs.
  • You may place your feet under something immovable or lift them slightly off the floor.
  • Tilt your back towards the ground at an approximate angle of 45-degrees with the ground.
  • Hold your arms straight before you and twist as far as possible to one side before doing the same thing on the other side.
  • To kick things up a notch, hold a mildly heavy object in your hands as you twist from side to side.
  • Aim for 10-12 reps on each side, rest, and repeat the process 3-5 times.

4. Hanging Leg Raise or Knee Raise

This is another exercise that will rev up your core and leave your abs strengthened for days. The most beautiful thing about this workout is its scalability. You can start off with bent knee raises, and then you can move on to straight leg raises, and ultimately to toe-to-bar raises.

How to Do the Hanging Leg Raise or Knee Raise
  • Grab the pull-up bar, ensuring that your arms are straight and your feet are totally off the ground.
  • Keep your legs straight and firmly together.
  • Tighten your abs, and use your core to extend your legs forward until they form an angle of 90-degrees with your midsection.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
  • For the knee raise, bend your knees before raising them to a 90-degree angle with your midsection.
  • For either movement, make sure you get your legs up using only your core. Avoid swinging them up with momentum.
  • To make things a bit more challenging, try placing a medicine ball between your ankles or knees.
  • Aim for 3-5 sets in the 10-15 rep range, and you midsection should be burning for days to come.

5. Ab-Wheel Rollouts

Alright, this one of the stomach workouts that may require a trip to the gym, but trust me, it’ll be worth every minute of your time.

If there’s one thing those infomercials got right, it’s the fact that ab wheels produce better muscle activation than crunches and leg raises[3].

As you roll out on the wheel, your trunk fires up in order to maintain spine neutrality and prevent collapsing[4]. In other words, it does a great job of crushing your abs and carving out those much-desired six packs.

How to Do Ab-Wheel Rollouts
  • Get into a tabletop position, and place some pads under your knees for protection.
  • Place your hands on the ab wheel, and take a deep breath.
  • Push your belly backward to prevent it from sagging as you roll out.
  • Roll out the wheel as far as you comfortably can, and keep your core tight.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, and roll back in, fully engaging your abs as you do so.
  • To kick things up a notch, strap on a backpack containing some weight as you roll in and out.
  • Aim for 2-5 sets in the 10-15 rep range, and you’ll definitely feel it in your abs for days to come.

Bonus Tip: Your Other Muscle Groups

Before you dash off, don’t ignore other muscle groups!

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Here’s a little fact you need to wrap your head around—doing only ab exercises won’t give you six pack! Here’s why:

Your abs are invisible because they’re covered by a layer of abdominal fat.

Excessive body fat results from a calorie surplus, which means you take in more calories than you burn. And the abdomen is just one of the several fat-storage spots in the body.

Lowering your total body fat should be the first course of action, and that requires a full body workout.

Contrary to what some marketers would have you believe, you can’t directly target abdominal fat for elimination; there’s simply no scientific evidence behind this hocus pocus.[5]

Although research has revealed that training a particular muscle group does increase lipolysis (conversion of fat into energy) and blood flow in that area, the effect is usually too negligible to matter.

So, training a particular muscle group doesn’t make them cannibalize the fat covering them, although it does help those muscles to consume more energy as they get bigger.

You may do hundreds of crunches and leg raises, but you still won’t see those abs if you don’t reduce the percentage of your total body fat 15% or more[6]. Fat loss is a full-body process, and that means you need to stick to a calorie deficit and train all muscle groups to achieve it.

The Bottom Line

There are no magic tricks to carving out an impressive core with stomach workouts! If you want great abs, you need to do three things—eat right, train right, and burn fat!

Here’s the thing, thoughyou can do it!

Start today, take it one day at a time, and a few months from now you’ll look in the mirror and love what you see. Stop sitting around; get out there and get it done!

More Great Stomach Workouts

Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com

Reference

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Richard Adefioye

Richard has a unique passion for healthy living and productivity.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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