As we all know there is no great magic to achieving the perfect 6 pack, but rather it’s about a lot of hard work and clean eating. We also know that no matter how badly we’d like to believe.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t be working out your abdominal muscles on a regular basis. They make up a very significant part of your core and if they aren’t engaging then you are doing yourself a big disservice.
Although a classic, you’ve probably heard by now that crunches aren’t the most effective abdominal workout. The reason for this is because they work only the front and sides of your body. To get a better, more “total” and functional workout you should be focusing on working out the entire core. That being said, including some crunches in your workout is not a bad thing in a pinch, but there are so many better exercises out there.
A tip to remember is that if any of these exercises are hurting your lower back then stop and reassess. You may be doing something wrong or your back and abdominal muscles simply aren’t quite strong enough. Never feel bad about doing modifications as they are essential to keeping you safe and injury free.
The 5 exercises that you’ll ever need to toughen that core of yours.
1. Plank with side crunch (spiderman).
The plank is a wonderful exercise. It works all of your core muscles at once and has numerous variations. Really, there’s something for everyone.
This exercise starts in a classic plank position. Just make sure your abdominals are engaged and your shoulders are down. Take a breath and on the exhale, pull one knee up toward your armpit. Repeat with the other leg. Do this 10x on each side. If you feel some discomfort in your lower back, make sure you are engaging your abdominals and simply lift your glutes toward the ceiling by a few inches. This should relieve any pain. Watch that you aren’t letting your head drop toward the floor and keep your ears between your shoulders
This workout can be done either with straight arms or propped up on your forearms.
2. Side Plank
side plank“Very similar to a classic plank but your body is rotated to one side. For many simply holding this position for 30+ seconds will be enough. Work your way up to 1 minute.”
“Increase Intensity: To increase the difficulty try lifting one leg in the air. This will also work those hip muscles as well. This workout can be done either with straight arms or propped up on your forearms. You can also add a rotation. In one movement, lift your hip toward the ceiling and sweep your arm beneath your body, then return to your start position. Repeat 15x each side.
3. Single leg stretch.
Increase Intensity: To increase the difficulty try lifting one leg in the air. This will also work those hip muscles as well. This workout can be done either with straight arms or propped up on your forearms. You can also add a rotation. In one movement, lift your hip toward the ceiling and sweep your arm beneath your body, then return to your start position. Repeat 15x each side.
Lying on your back start with your head and shoulders curled up off the floor and your legs bent and 90 degrees off the floor. Inhale, then as you exhale straighten your right leg. Your right arm will touch your left knee and your left arm will reach toward your left ankle. Inhale and repeat on the other side. Don’t stress too much if the arm sequence is confusing. A good variation to this exercise is to have both hands lifted toward the ceiling.
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