Wouldn’t we all like to have chiselled abs?
To be able to lift
our tops and have a flat, non-wobbly, rock hard midriff?
Yeah. I’d love
And whilst I can’t
promise that with these abs exercises, I can promise you
a super strong core.
A core that can do
it’s job and help take the strain away from your lower back, your
glutes, your knees.
Yep. Lots of pain
can be a nasty side effect of a weak core.
So, if I can
interest you in amazing core strength, let’s get to it.
Before we get to it,
I want to have a little chat about six-pack abs. Or four-pack abs, or
11 abs. Whatever you refer to them as.
A chiselled waist
line. I want to briefly touch on having a chiselled waist line.
exercises on their own aren’t going to get you that.
I want to come right
out and say it. Set your expectations. I don’t want to mislead you,
or lie to you.
muscles in your mid-section takes more than doing abs exercises. Even
if they are the best, ultimate, all singing all dancing abs
There is no doubt
you’ll get a stronger core, even if you’ve still got wobbly bits
over the muscles, and that in it’s self has tangible benefits.
But, to get that
six-pack look, you have to do so much more than these, or any
You also have to
burn the body fat that sits over the muscles you’ll be building.
And that means,
regular and consistent exercising. Abs workouts, cardio workouts,
HIIT workouts and overall strength workouts. You have to do them all.
You also have to
watch what you eat.
And very carefully.
Getting a six-pack
is probably one of the hardest fitness goals you could choose. It
takes dedication and hard work.
What you eat plays a
massive role in it.
Think no chocolate.
No wine. No lattes. No cake.
It’s a big
not one I’m willing to make. I love chocolate way too much and
being a bit freer with my nutrition.
But, if you really,
really, really want that six-pack, defined, muscular core, then do
get in touch. Because I can help.
Wait, does that
mean I’ll never have a flatter belly?
No. It doesn’t
Just because you
haven’t, or don’t want to work towards a six-pack, doesn’t mean
you’ll always have to have a big, wobbly middle.
Just losing weight,
eating healthier and exercising more regularly will help you lose
some of the flab all over your body, including your waist. So don’t stress too much.
Stick to the
principles of healthy living, moving your body, eating healthily. And
you will start to see an improvement in how your body looks and
With that said, let’s get on with the exercises.
essentially bodyweight training.
training using nothing but your own body weight and gravity. So,
you’ve guessed it, all of the exercises below are bodyweight
equipment is required.
If you want to make
them more challenging, and you have access to suitable equipment,
then do feel free to use it. But I’m going to concentrate on the
bodyweight versions of the movements.
There are some
really cool calisthenics exercises that you can learn to do when
you’re strong enough and have had enough practice. But one thing
they all have in common is that you need a really strong core to do
So, even if you’re
only slightly interested in doing a front lever, dragon flag or a
handstand from sitting, working on strengthening that core is going
to pay dividends in the long run.
Exactly what are the
benefits of having a strong core?
Apart from it being
flatter and being able to do really cool shit?
Well, for starters
your core is probably the most important part of your body. It’s
your core. The core of you. Most of your really important organs are
housed within it.
Your stomach, your
intestines, your heart, your bladder, your womb and ovaries. A strong
core will help protect all of these organs.
Also, a strong core
can help you live pain free. Or with significantly less pain anyway.
That’s because, if
your core isn’t strong other parts of your body will try to take
over. Your lower back mainly.
Your lower back
muscles starts to do the work your core should be doing. And that
just leaves you in pain.
The last benefit of
a strong core, well, it’s not the last one, there are hundreds of
benefits of having a strong core, but these are the ones I think
you’ll be able to relate to….your posture is going to be better.
We all do it, don’t
we, slump our shoulders.
sitting. When we’re looking at our phones. When we’re standing in
the playground waiting for our kids to get off the trampoline.
Our shoulders slump
forward and down. Our neck comes forward.
That can lead to a
weak core, and it can be caused by a weak core.
abs, your hip flexors, your glutes and your lower back is going to
It’s going to help
you stand up better and that means you’ll be less achy, overall.
Ok. I’ve held you
up for long enough.
Shall we get to the exercises?
As I’ve mentioned,
these are all bodyweight exercises. You don’t need any special
equipment. They all have different variations, so if you’re finding
it too difficult, or too easy, you should be able to scale it to fit
your fitness levels.
Most of these
exercises are compound exercises, that means they work more than one
Leg raises for
example, work your rectus abdominis, your glutes, your hamstrings.
Planks, if done correctly can work your entire body.
Leg Raises, also
know as leg lifts, help to strengthen your legs as well as your core.
And they’re great if your knees are a bit ouchy and you can’t do
squats. But, that’s a story for another page.
They’re a really
simple exercise. Not easy. No exercise is easy. If it is you’re not
trying hard enough, ha. But they are a simple one.
They work your
rectus abdominis, the muscles you’d probably know as your six pack
To make sure your
abs get the benefit of this movement, they are best done lying on the
floor. If that’s not possible you can do them standing up, but make
sure the movements are really slow and controlled. That will ensure
your core is being worked.
So, lie on the
floor, your arms can be stretched out to the side, if you need a bit
more assistance, or they can be down by your side.
Make sure you engage
your core and push your lower back into the floor, and as you do lift
You can do one at a
time, it’s tougher if you do both together, but you decide where
Lift your legs until
they’re straight up in the air, pointed at the ceiling and then
lower them back down. Don’t let them touch the floor. Lower them as
much as you can, but don’t let your lower back lift off the floor.
And then lift them
Repeat for the
required time or required number of reps.
If you want to make
these harder, you can try a hanging knee raise. You’ll need a bar,
of some kind, to hang from. A pull-up bar for example. But monkey
bars at the park would work just as well. It’s going to test your
grip strength as well as your core strength, just to warn you.
Hold onto the bar,
making sure your shoulder blades are back and down, away from your
Lift your feet off
the floor, with your knees bent.
Then lift your knees
up to your chest, or as far as you can get them up.
windshield wipers on a few of my pages...they’re one of my
favourite ab exercises.
They’re great as
they’ve got a rotation movement in so they work your internal
obliques and your external obliques. That’s your side abs. They’re
the muscles that cinch you in at the waist.
lying down movement, and for the life of me I can’t figure out a
way to do them standing up. So you if you can’t lie down, then
you’ll have to find another exercise to work those obliques. But
don’t worry, there will be one.
So, for windshield
wipers, lie on the floor with your arms stretched out to the side.
Engage your core and
lift your legs straight up in the air. Keep your core engaged and
your lower back pressed into the floor as you lower your legs down to
ones\ ide, but not all the way to the floor. Lift them back up,
through centre and down to the other side.
Repeat for the
required time, the required number of reps, or until you can’t do
I’m joking with
the last one. You shouldn’t do any ab exercise until you can’t do
any more. It’s called training to failure and is not good for your
There may be other
instances where that’s appropriate, but not your abs.
Ok? Ok, let’s move on.
The bicycle crunch
has to be a classic exercise. Another one that works those obliques.
It’s very similar
to a crunch so if you struggle with those, maybe stick to something
like windshield wipers instead.
Lie on the floor
with your knees bent and your feet near your bum.
Engage your core and
keep your lower back pressed into the floor. Raise your head and
shoulders and your feet off the floor. Bring your right knee and your
left elbow together, as close as you can, return back and then repeat
on the opposite side with your left knee and right elbow.
Keep going for the required time or number of reps.
A reverse crunch is
great if you find normal crunches challenging. They are still
challenging, but they’re done in a different way.
I find crunches
really quite difficult.
I tend to use my
neck quite a bit, which leaves me with a bit of a headache, so
reverse crunches are brilliant for me.
Again, lie on the
floor with your arms stretched out, by your side, or if you’re
struggling with this one, you could put your hands under your bum.
Engage your core and
make sure your lower back is firmly pressed into the floor and lift
your feet off the floor. Your knees should be bent at about 90
degrees. This is the starting position.
Then lift your bum off the floor and your hips towards the ceiling. Lower your bum back down to the floor coming back to the starting position.
The exercises we’ve
just covered are all dynamic exercises. They involve movement. These
next ones are what we call isometric exercises, or static core
exercises. There’s not movement involved.
You get into
position and you hold.
I find these
movements a lot tougher.
If you’re just
starting out, don’t expect to hold them for very long.
You might only
manage a few seconds. That’s ok. Push yourself sure, but don’t
over exert yourself. Have a little break, reset and go again.
You’ll find that
it gets longer.
But remember, these
will always be tough.
You will get stronger, but the exercises will always feel tough. Because you’ll be going for longer, trying harder. If they’re getting easy try a harder variation.
Planks are a classic
Even if you’ve
never done exercise before, you’ve probably come across the plank.
It’s a staple in
yoga and it works all of your abdominal muscles.
There are quite a
few variations as well, like the side plank, reverse planks and a few
dynamic exercises based on the plank. But, I’m going to stick to
The high plank.
To do it, get into a
push-up position, so on the ground, hands under your shoulders and
your feet should be raised onto your toes.
Making sure your
core is engaged, hold this position.
That’s it, just
If you are finding
it tough you can drop your knees to the floor. Still make sure your
core is engaged and get back onto your toes when you’ve had a bit
would be on your forearms rather than your hands. That’s called a
Again, you can drop your knees to the floor if you need to.
The hollow hold is kind of like an upside down plank. It’s
another toughie, but there aren’t really any regressions for it.
So, if you’re struggling, come down to the ground for a few
seconds. Rest, reset and go again.
It’s far better to try a few seconds at a time and get stronger, than to not try at all.
So, lying on the ground with your legs stretched out straight and your arms by your side, engage your core and lift your legs, head, neck, shoulders, upper back and arms off the floor.
The only thing that should be left on the floor is your mid and lower back and your bum.
Your lower back should be pressed firmly into the floor.
Hold this position, for as long as you can.
Remember to come down and rest for a few seconds if you need to.
An important part of strengthening your core muscles, is
strengthening your lower back muscles. You might think it’s a bit
weird, because your back muscles are not your ab muscles.
But, remember you’re strengthening your core muscles here. Not just your ab muscles.
And your lower back, is a very big part of your core.
So, what are the best exercises to strengthen your lower back?
Laying down on the floor, face down, arms out to the side,
shoulder blades should be back and down, away from your ears.
Once you’re in position, engage your core and lift your shoulders up towards the ceiling.
Lower back down and repeat.
To make this a bit harder lift your legs off the floor as well. That’s called a superman.
Working on your core is really important for your health. It’s not just about how your body looks.
And these calisthenics abs exercise will help you get a really strong core.
Make sure you can do all of the exercises in a workout before you attempt it. And if you need help with that, you know you can ask.
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