28 Jan 5 Best AB Exercises- By Dylan Rivier
We are right in the middle of summer here in Australia and for many of us that means flashing more skin than we’re used to thanks to the sunshine, beach time and holidays that tend to accompany this time of year.
How do we get those tummies trim taught and terrific you ask? Well there’s about a thousand different ways to work your abdominal muscles but here are my favorite five…
1. Planks. Yep you heard right, the trusty old plank is one of my favorite’s!
This activity is great for your entire core area (big belt of muscles that goes all the way around your trunk), not focusing solely on your rectus abdominals (6 pack muscles).
I like to incorporate side and front planks in the same set so here’s how I do it.
- Start in a side plank position, elbow and forearm on the ground and feet stacked on top of each other. First check that your body is straight (hips and shoulders are square and spine is neutral).
- Hold this position for 30 seconds then roll into a front plank position.
- Here your elbows are stacked under your shoulders, belly button is drawn in, legs are straight and spine is neutral.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Then roll onto the other side for a side plank.
- Hold for 30 sec.
I like to do this for 4 minutes however you can do it as many times as you like. If you start to feel any pain in your lower back it’s usually because your abdominal muscles have fatigued, this means it’s time to stop and rest.
*TIP Make sure you BREATH the entire time. I see people try to hold their breath when planking and trust me it doesn’t end well!
2. Leg Raises. Instead of the traditional crunch where you lift your shoulders off the ground, this works from the opposite direction lifting your feet off the ground. I love this one because it hits your lower abdominals, which can often be harder to work with a crunch.
- Lying on the ground on your back, place your hands palms down underneath your butt to provide some support for your lower back.
- Keeping your lower back pressed down towards the ground lift both legs up towards the ceiling then keeping the legs straight, lower them back down till they are just hovering off the ground before lifting again.
*TIP as you lower your legs back towards the floor, you may feel your lower back start to lift and arch – especially as you get tired. Really try to push it back down and KEEP it down as you lower your legs, this will minimise lower back involvement and maximise abdominal recruitment.
*TIP if you want more of a challenge try taking your hands out to the side to make it even more difficult!
3. Crunch and twist. This is a great one to work your rectus abdominals PLUS your external oblique’s (the muscles above your hips that give you that nice V shape).
- Lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent at 90º, place your fingertips on your temples.
- Take one hand and reach/twist it towards the OUTSIDE of the OPPOSITE knee.
- Return back to start and repeat on the other side.
*TIP Keep your shoulders slightly off the ground the entire time
*TIP Focus more on the twisting and reaching rather than sitting up off the ground.
4. Bicycles. If you’ve ever done these then you know how tough they can be!
- Start in the same position as the previous crunch but lift feet to knee height.
- Place your fingertips at your temples with your elbows pointed away from your ears, feet are at knee height and your shoulders are just slightly off the ground.
- Extend one leg away from you pushing the foot towards the floor at the same time twist your opposite elbow towards the knee that’s still up.
- Slowly return both your extended leg and your twisted elbow back to start position and repeat on the other side.
*TIP be sure to move your whole trunk when you twist, not just your elbow – it’s this movement that’s going to get you the best results.
*TIP try going super slow for a killer burn.
5. Reverse Crunch. Here I go again with the reversals! Why? Because I love them!
- Start on your back and place your hands palm down underneath your butt for support. Point your legs towards the ceiling keeping them as straight as possible.
- Imagine there’s a board about 10cm above your feet and what you want to do is touch that invisible board with your toes. You want to roll your hips up and PUSH your feet straight up – not backwards – then lower back to start position in a slow and controlled manner.
It’s only a small movement but the more control you have over it the harder it gets. If 10cm is too easy try pushing a little higher, remember to return slowly.
*TIP Keeping your legs as straight as possible and pointing towards the ceiling as much as possible will prevent you from swinging them up and back and using momentum instead of your abs.
Dylan Rivier is the owner of Built By Dylan training and has been a personal trainer for over 10 years.