Building up a strong core is ESSENTIAL to your workouts. Why? Well for one, it helps to prevent injury. Instead of using your knees too much, you use your strong core. Instead of hurting your back with your workouts, your core keeps you stable and injury free. But more than that (as if that’s not important enough?), a strong core is one of the first ways to slim down that waistline and get the sleek, trim, rockin’ body that you want. However…
NOT ALL AB EXERCISES ARE CREATED EQUAL
Your abs are actually made up of 4 key sections.
External Obliques: This is the outer layer of the abs on your sides; these run diagonally downward.
Internal Obliques: These are just underneath the external obliques; they run diagonally up your sides.
Rectus Abdominus: These are two paired sheets of muscle from the ribs to the pelvis that flex you forward.
Transverse Abdominus: This is the deepest ab muscle, which wraps around the waist to support the spine.
And the truth is, you use all these muscles in real life, so they all need to be worked. (So don’t stop at just crunches!) When you’re reaching up to get something, picking up a baby or bending down, you need all the muscles to work together. So…instead of just targeting one, you should also aim for functional fitness, where the muscles work as a unit.
So what’s a good routine for targeting all sections of your core, resulting in a slimmed down, stronger stomach? Well, here you go.
The Ultimate Ab Workout
If you’re aiming to drop inches, my suggestion is to do these moves 3 times per week, plus 2 days of steady state cardio (low intensity, steady heart rate for 30 min) and 3 days of high intensity cardio (high, intense bursts for about a minute on, a minute off for a total of 20 min). Regardless, even if you add this routine into your already established workout plan…you’ll see the results!
High Plank Hold- This is a traditional plank, done with straight arms with your hands and feet as the points of hold.
- Lie face down in a push-up position.
- Keep your palms on the floor next to your shoulders and your feet flexed with the bottoms of your toes on the floor. Take a deep breath and press up into a pushup.
- Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the top of your head and you should be squeezing your buttocks and drawing your navel toward your spine.
- Hold the plank for 1 minute, repeat 3 times. (as you get stronger, increase your hold by 30 second increments)
Bow to Boat Pose- This is a combined movement, putting together a move to strengthen your back and a move that targets your entire core.
- Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your chin on the mat and your hands resting at your sides.
- On an exhalation, bend your knees.
- Reach back with both hands and hold onto your outer ankles.
- On an inhalation, lift your heels up toward the ceiling, drawing your thighs up and off the mat.
- The more you push your feet back, the higher you can go.
- Then release the pose and flip over carefully onto your back.
- Sit up, and keeping your spine straight, lean back slightly and lift your feet off the floor in a 45 degree angle.
- Extend your arms out in front so they are parallel with your legs.
- Balance on your sit bones, keeping your spine straight. Take care not to let your lower back sag or chest collapse.
- Hold each move for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times.
Scissor Abs- This is a great one for those lower abs, that V of the external obliques as well as the rectus abdominus muscles.
- Lay on the ground and lift your legs off the floor, no more than 6 inches.
- Lift one leg at a time, in a scissor motion, keeping both legs off the ground at all times.
- Scissor your legs 3 seconds a piece for a total of 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
Slow Mountain Climbers- The key here is holding. You’ll feel this one not only in your ab muscles, but also your arms and shoulders.
- We are back in plank position for this one, with the proper plank form. (Straight line, squeeze your butt, draw your navel to your spine)
- While holding your arms straight underneath you, do a slow run with your legs, bringing your knees to your chest.
- Hold each knee to your chest for 2 seconds before switching to the other leg.
- Repeat the slow run for a total of 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
Russian Twist Taps- This takes the balance of the bow pose as well as adding a little twist.
- Sit on your tailbone, just like in bow pose, lifting your knees up and leaning back slightly.
- Clasp your hands in front of you and twist from side to side.
- Tap your hands on the ground each time you twist.
- Keep your feet and knees up the entire time, careful not to round your back or let your chest collapse.
- Twist side to side for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
Side Plank Holds- A great move to target not only your obliques, but also that dreaded bra bulge!
- Begin again in plank pose, keeping the proper form.
- Slowly lift one arm from the ground and turn to one side, also twisting your feet so you are balancing on the side of your feet.
- Raise your arm into the air and hold that position.
- Keep your hip high, do not let it sag to the ground.
- Hold each side for 1 minute each. Repeat 3 times each side.
Tolasana Pose (or Scale Pose)- And now comes the ultimate challenge. Hold this pose for as long as you can, it is a tough one, but it absolutely will give you a good measure of how strong your core is.
- Begin with your legs crossed and the top of each foot resting on the opposite thigh.
- Place your hands on the floor on either side of your hips.
- Exhale as you press your palms firmly into the floor. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up, and lift your legs and buttocks off of the floor.
- Hold yourself suspended for five breaths, then release by lowering yourself back to the ground. Repeat 3 times.
There it is! Make sure you comment below on how you did and how you’re improving! I can’t wait to hear how you progress. ♥