Will these ab exercises give you a “sleeker, slimmer, sexier tummy” in just minutes a day? No, not on their own, they won’t. Contrary to what infomercials would have you believe, no ab exercises will help you go from soft and round to sleek, ripped, tight (you get the picture) on their own. “How do you get that lean set of six-pack abs?” you ask.
You can have the tightest, most muscular abs in the world and still not have that desired six pack without having very little body fat. The best way to reduce your body fat is by…

  • performing weight lifting exercises (including the following ab exercises)
  • eating a diet which provides the right amount of calories with the right proportion of protein, carbs and healthy fats
  • performing the right amount and the right type of cardio exercise

So, if these ab exercises alone won’t give you a sleek, sexy stomach in just minutes a day, what will they do?

abs women
What they will do for you is…

  • Lay the foundation for a great looking midsection. A six pack is only a six pack if you have enough muscle.
  • Help reduce back pain. Strong abs are key to taking pressure off of the lower back.
  • Protect you from injury. Strong abs give you better body control when you need it (slips on ice, tripping on uneven ground, etc.)
  • Improve athletic performance. Again, strong abs allow you better body control, therefore, you are able to perform at a higher level in your chosen sport. Also, a great deal of power in sport is generated through the midsection. Stronger abs produces more power.

The following ab exercises will work both the “show-me” muscles or stomach as well as the often neglected oblique muscles that run diagonally from the back into the front of the body.

You could argue that the oblique muscles are the most important abdominal muscles. Because most of your movements are not straight forward and back but, rather side to side, or twisting movements that utilize the oblique muscles.

Exercise 1:

#1: Floor Crunch (Beginner)

crunches

  • Lie face-up on the floor with your feet up on a chair or other firm surface. This helps to reduce strain on the lower back. If no raised surface is available, place feet flat on the floor and draw them in close to the buttocks.
  • Place your hands behind your head, palms face-up. Your hands are just to support the weight of your head. DO NOT pull up on your head. You could strain your neck.-Press your lower back into the floor, tilting the pelvis up slightly.

Performing The Movement

  1. Begin by taking a deep breath in through the nose.
  2. Contract your stomach muscles (pretend someone is about to drop a heavy object on your stomach) and slowly raise the shoulder blades off the floor.
  3. Exhale your breath fully as you raise your upper body off the floor.
  4. Squeeze the stomach muscles at the top of the movement and hold for a count of one-one thousand.
  5. Slowly lower your body back towards the floor, breathing in through your nose.
  6. When at the bottom of the position, do not completely relax the stomach muscles.
  7. Repeat the movement.

Performance Tips:

  • Do not pull up on the head. Make the stomach muscles do the work. It may help to keep your thumbs on the neck muscles. This will allow you to feel immediately if your neck muscles are tightening up or straining.
  • Do not rush. Use slow, smooth movements.
  • Take about 2 seconds to raise your body and 2 seconds to lower your body. This will ensure no momentum is used to complete the exercise.
Exercise 2:

#2: Exercise Ball Crunch (Intermediate/Advanced)

excercise ball

  • Begin by sitting on the ball with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, flat on the floor.
  • “Walk” your feet away from the ball until the lower back is on the ball.
  • The ball should be under the lower back, with the upper back hanging over the ball.-From here, place your hands behind your head or across your chest (whichever is more comfortable).
  • The hands are there only to support the head. Do not pull up on it.

Performing The Movement

  1. Begin by taking a deep breath in through the nose.
  2. Contract the abdominal muscles and raise your upper body up to a 45 degree angle.
  3. Exhale through the mouth as you reach the top of the position.
  4. Do not bring the body up far enough to release the tension on the abdominal muscles.
  5. Hold your form at the top of the movement for a count of one thousand and slowly return to the bottom position.
  6. Come to a complete stop at the bottom. Do not bounce yourself off the ball.
  7. Repeat the movement.

Performance Tips:

  • Adjust the difficulty of the exercise by raising or lowering your hips. The higher your hips are, the more difficult the exercise will be.
  • Keep feet wide apart for improved balance. Move feet closer together to make it more challenging.
  • Increase the resistance by placing a weight behind the head or on the chest.
  • Perform this exercise on a hard surface with non-slip shoes.
Exercise 3:

#3: Side Bend

side dend

I love the side bend. It’s challenging and is very effective for creating a powerful midsection. It also makes carrying heavy bags of groceries much, much easier.

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and a dumbbell in one hand.
  • Stand tall with your head up and eyes straight ahead.

Performing The Movement

  1. Starting on the “dumbbell side”, bend sideways at the waist and lower the dumbbell.
  2. Breathe in through the nose as you lower the weight.
  3. Bend as far as possible without the shoulders twisting or the hips moving forward (arching back).
  4. Pause slightly at the bottom of the movement and slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Exhale through the mouth as you return to the top position.
  6. Complete the desired number of repetitions and switch sides.

Performance Tips:

  • Your body should be moving in a straight line only. There should be no twisting of the body.
  • Do not lean forward or back. Maintain a neutral upright position.
  • Maintain a still lower body throughout the entire exercise. Do not let the legs “buckle” or let the hips sway side to side. From the waist down, there should be no movement.
  • Keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet. Avoid letting your weight shift to one side as you lower and raise the weight.
  • Let your head travel with the body as you bend. Avoid trying to keep your head vertical. It could strain your neck muscles.

How To Use These Ab Exercises

Perform the crunches and sidebend as a part of a complete weight training program. A general guideline is to do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Once you are able to perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions easily, find ways to make the movement more challenging.

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