For sure by now you heard that the secret to great abs is not all exercise. Granted that a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet can play a (big) part in your journey towards great abs, but exercise must also be part of the equation.
Since this is no 80’s video exercise routine, we will not be focusing on crunches. Although, crunches can help and so can an electronic ab belt. Find out more about ab belts.
Do you think you would be healthy if you ate nothing but broccoli every day? No, right? Your body would be missing out on a ton of nutrients and vitamins that are essential for your body to function correctly.
The food pyramid exists for a reason: it helps you have a sense of what elements you should include in your diet, and an estimation of how much of those elements you should consume – a healthy diet is a diversified diet.
Now, bearing this concept in mind, take a moment to reflect on your abs routine. Are you constantly “eating broccoli”, a.k.a. repeating the same movements over and over again and seeing no abs or not getting ripped? You might also be missing out on some great supplements to get shredded abs.
Please read on to learn about some more effective alternatives to step up your abs game!
At the gym?
If you like to hit the gym, here are some ideas for your next visit!
1. Cable Rotation
Cable rotation is great for improving core strength, which is the gateway to great abs. Make sure to grip the cable with both hands out in front of you, just under shoulder-height. Then, whilst keeping your arms fixed, rotate your upper body to the left, then center, then right, then center again. Make sure to adequate your reps to your fitness level.
2. Swiss Ball Rollout
The name of this exercise is pretty self-explanatory. Although similar to the abs wheel, this move is safer and easier. Rolling the ball forwards and backwards as far as you can will make you work your abdominal wall. For an extra level of difficulty, roll on a 45º angle, this will allow you to target your obliques too.
3. Hanging Bicycles
This one is deceptively simple: using the pull-up bar, engage your core and pull your knees up to a 90-degree angle, while keeping your legs parallel to the ground. From then on, just make bicycle riding movements, which you should repeat as fast as you can, while maintaining control, for about 30 seconds. It’s super effective!
No, we are not confused. A leg exercise has made its way into this list. Why? As we said before, variety is key. Also, exercising your body as a whole will have more longstanding effects on your abs goals. That being said, regularly implement both back and front squats in your program. To “mix it up”, you can alternate weeks between back and front squats, for example.
5. High Knees
If you already include then in your warm-up routine, then you should considering also making this exercise part of your abs routine. The key here is intensity – think sprint, not jog – and run in place as hard as you can for a certain amount of time, like 30 or 60 seconds, depending on your level of fitness. Bring your knees up while running in place, as that will allow you to work on your lower abs.
Should you not be a big fan of packed gyms, we also included some exercises you can easily do in the comfort of your own home.
1. Jumping rope
If you have the space (and the knees) for it, consider the jumping rope. It is one of the best total-body workouts out there, since it helps burn fat and build muscle quite quickly, even you do it for just a short amount of time.
Side plank, three-point plank, Spiderman plank crunch… Any variation that makes the traditional planking even more challenging should be on your to-do list. Why? Because it will help you workout group muscles that would otherwise be ignored. Side planking, for instance, targets many smaller core muscles.
3. Hollow Body Hold
The hollow body hold is one of the first moves aspiring gymnasts are taught. Total body tension is at the basis of this exercise, which will help you improve your results in all other kinds of exercises, like pulls-ups and squats.
4. Dead Bug
If lower back pain from other types of exercises has been keeping you from abs specific workouts, then the dead bug is the solution to those issues. It deceptively easy, so don’t get cocky after just a couple of reps. Lie on your back with your arms held out in front of you, pointing to the ceiling. Then, bring your legs up so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower your right arms and left leg at the same time. Keep going until your arm and leg are just above the floor – be careful not to raise your back off the ground.
5. The Cobra
Although the cobra has no legs (we are about to infuse some humor…), three steps are required to complete this exercise successfully:
- Lie on your stomach with your hands by your side.
- Gently press your hips into the mat and pull your chest away from the ground. This will make you arch your low back and stretch the muscles in your chest and abdominal area. Holt this position for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower your body back onto the mat. Repeat if you want.
Keep your abs routine as diversified as you would your diet. Give preference to full range body motion exercises, as those will allow you to burn fat and get ripped quicker, thus helping you to achieve your goals faster. If you are to do localized exercises, do it a couple a times a week only, so as to allow your body to recover – sometimes less concentrated effort allows for better results, as surprising as that might be! Above all, remember that building abs is all about strengthening your core, so exercises that allow you to do just that should make the top of your list.