If you’re looking to strengthen and tone your abs this year, there are a lot of great exercises you can do right from the comfort of your living room. Many don’t require much in the way of equipment and can be done whenever you have an extra 10 minutes here or there throughout the day.
One thing to note: No matter how many crunches you do, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein is one of the only ways you’ll actually be able to see the abs you’ve worked so hard to achieve. You’ve heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” for a reason.
“The best way to avoid injury, whether in the gym, at home, or at the workplace, is by building a strong core,” Edwin Wealth, NASM-CPT and trainer at Equinox, told GQ Magazine. He’s right. A strong core helps maintain proper form for other forms of exercise, creates balance, supports the rest of your body (mostly your back), and obviously helps you look pretty great when you take your shirt off.
In terms of moves and the best workout for abs, you can’t get much better than a plank. To master the move, lay face down on the ground and prop yourself up using your forearms. Make sure your elbows are underneath your shoulders and your hands are balled up in fists. To start, try holding yourself in a plank position for 10 to 20 seconds and work your way up to a minute at a time. The key is squeezing your glutes, calves, arms, and quads, which help stabilize the position and work other muscle groups while you strengthen your abs.
You can also add in a side plank by lying on your side with your right forearm flat on the floor, elbow under your shoulder, and both legs extended to form a straight line from head to feet. Engage your core and lift your hips up for 15 seconds (working up to 30). Drop your hips, turn over, and do the same thing on the other side.
One of the most classic ab moves that works as long as you do it correctly is the reverse crunch. Start by lying on your back, legs lifted so your thighs are perpendicular to the ground and your knees bent. Press your lower back into the floor or exercise mat, then curl your knees into your chest, lifting your hips off the ground. Return to starting position, which counts as one rep. Start out by trying this exercise for 30 seconds, working your way up to 60 seconds.
An intermediate move and another best abs workout to add to your routine is the dead bug. To do it properly, lay face-up on the floor with your arms raised straight above your shoulders and your knees directly over your hips, bent at a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously lower your left arm above your head at the same time you straighten your right leg toward the floor. Pause for three seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Try doing one set of 10 for each side and work your way up to 30, making sure your lower back never leaves the floor.
One of my personal favorites is the lateral bear crawl. Start in a bear plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists and your knees under your hips, hovering 2 to 3 inches off of the floor. Move your hands and feet left for three steps but don’t let your feet or hands cross. Then, move your hands and feet right for three steps. That’s one rep. Try doing this move for 30 seconds without putting your knees on the ground, and work your way up to a minute.
To work your side abs (your obliques), start on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, hands by your hips. Lift your chest slightly toward the ceiling so your shoulder blades are off the ground. Next, tap your right hand to the outside of your right ankle. Come back to the center. Keeping your shoulders off the ground, tap your left hand to the outside of your left ankle, which is one rep. Try the move for 30 seconds, working your way up to several rounds of 60 seconds.
The moves above are all good to add into your routine, but keep in mind as you advance in your fitness journey that you can find dozens of others online or through a certified fitness instructor in your area. After a few short weeks, you’ll notice yourself feeling stronger, and your ability to perform the moves for longer periods of time will improve.
Give it a few short months and, before you know it, you’ll be sporting the six-pack you’ve always wanted and hitting the beach feeling better than you have in years. This means improved confidence, a stronger core, and the ability to participate in activities that seemed out of reach before you began.
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