I’ll be honest. Ab workouts are one of my least favorite workouts to do.
I’m not going to be one of those fitness people that lies to you and say I train abs everyday and do all of these exercises everyday to get my abs to look the way that they do. The reality is, I don’t like the feeling of my ab muscles getting sore and working hard. But does that mean I don’t do them? Of course not! It’s a love hate relationship. It burns while I’m doing them, but the workouts make my abs look amazing in the long run. So I make sure to do them at least 3 times a week.
One thing I will say is, if you want really nice defined abs and you’re not directly training your core muscles (that’s your abs, obliques, and other stabilizer muscles) a few times a week, then you’re probably selling yourself short on that goal.
Why? Because, sure, you can work your core muscles while you’re doing other exercises, but those exercises don’t stimulate the same type of size growth as if you were training them directly. Indirectly training your abs strengthens them and gives you better posture but it doesn’t necessarily make them more defined.
For that reason, I focus on directly training my core muscles a few times a week, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time. And by doing that, I was able to figure out the most effective ab workouts you should be doing to make those babies pop!
9 Killer Ab Workouts For a Powerful Core
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Beginner: Exercise Ball Crunches
Exercise ball crunches are great for any age. This is always one of the first ab exercises I recommend because it really helps to support the lower back and neck while working on your abs as opposed to doing typical crunches on the floor. They also burn much more than you would expect them to because you have to stretch out your ab muscles as you lean back, before you come forward for a crunch. That way you really work every inch of those muscles. Trideer exercise balls are really good if you’re look for something affordable.
Beginner: Russian Twists
Most people know how to do these once they remember what they look like. It’s a classic move and for a good reason. They really work your obliques and make them stronger. If you really want defined obliques try doing the twists with a dumbbell in your hands and lifting your feet off the ground.
Planks are amazing for stability and building an overall strong core. You can choose between the traditional plank or the elbow/forearm plank which is slightly harder because you have to rely on you core more to hold you up. Remember when you’re doing this exercises to stack your elbow under your shoulders. Planks are one of those exercises that you can keep progressing to make it more difficult. For example, if you want more of a challenge try lifting one leg off the ground and holding it in the air while doing your plank.
Intermediate: Arms Overhead Crunches
Even though training abs isn’t my favorite thing, this is one of my favorite exercises to do. It’s a little bit harder than doing normal crunches and you feel a much better contraction as you lift up. Also unlike normal crunches you can add more weight to the workout by holding a dumbbell or medicine ball in your hands while you have them in the air.
Intermediate: Flutter Kicks
This workout is killer! It takes a lot of control over your core to keep your legs off the ground. You’ll start by lying on the ground with your hands either flat at your side or under your butt for support. Then you’ll simply kick up and down in a scissor motion. Try starting with 30 seconds and work your way up to 1 minute.
Intermediate: Cable Rotations
If you have no interest in getting on the ground to do your core workouts at the gym, you can always do them using cable machines. Cable rotations are great for working your obliques. By using the cables to do them you can easily add as much weight you need to really get those muscles working.
Advanced: Hanging Leg Raises
There was a time when I would do ab exercises every time I worked out at the gym. And leg raises would be in my routine no matter how I did them. It didn’t matter if I was focusing on abs or obliques or my stabilizer muscles. These are pretty difficult to do so try it first with your knees bent. Once you’re able to do that you can do them with your legs straight, and then later you can add weights. Baby steps.
Advanced: V – Ups
Sometimes I under estimate how difficult a V – up can be. It doesn’t require any equipment but it does require you to be able to lift your arms and legs up at the same time in the shape of a V. Talk about a workout that burns.
Advanced: Ab Roll Outs
This is one workout that I’m not very good at and it’s seriously an advanced ab workout. On the brightside there are different variations of this exercise so it’s good for any advanced level. You can use a swiss ball, an ab roller or a barbell to roll out and come back up. A really popular ab roller is the N1Fit Ab Roller Wheel, which is great for at home or the gym. Let’s get those abs poppin!
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