3 Workouts For Amazing Abs

Banish excess flab and beat gym boredom with these fun and effective workouts.
Author:
Publish date:

Do you train your abs on autopilot, churning out as many crunches as you can before collapsing with a sigh of relief? We have the antidote to your workout boredom: three sleek and simple routines that will put the sizzle into your middle.

Effective Abs Training

A six-pack is sexy, but you know that a strong midsection is about more than just aesthetics. The abs and back comprise the “core” of the body and create a stable and flexible foundation that supports athletic performance as well as the demands of daily living, says fitness expert Michael Gundill, co-author of Delavier’s Core Training Anatomy (Human Kinetics, 2011). Gundill explains that a strong core not only prevents a protruding belly, but also allows for proper digestion and helps avert back problems. “Without core stability, we wouldn’t be able to walk upright.”

That strong six-pack also plays a supporting role, whether you’re performing squats or playing golf. Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research points to the importance of core stability exercises (similar to those included in your “Amazing Abs” workouts) in sports conditioning programs, because greater core stability translates to more power in the arms and legs by providing a solid foundation.

What’s Wrong With Crunches?

Nothing — unless that’s all you do. Besides running the risk of repetitive injury by doing the same exercise over and over, you are probably not going to develop your abs to their full potential. “The abs as a whole are not just one big muscle,” explains Gundill, adding that you also need to target your obliques and transverse abdominis — not just your rectus abdominis, the six-pack muscle — every time you train your core. Also, keep in mind that your current routine may not be as well-rounded as you think: while crunches may increase core strength, they don’t really improve core stability, mainly because they are usually performed on a stable surface. And forget fancy abdominal tools and machines — all you really need to challenge your core is a towel, a stability ball and an exercise mat. Don’t buy the hype? Check back the day after doing the towel push and towel pull — you’ll be a believer!

Your 1-2-3 Amazing Abs Workouts

Choose one workout and perform the exercises listed as a circuit. Gundill recommends that you train your abs at least twice a week — three times is optimum — and try to leave a day’s rest in between for best results. And remember, you can switch up your workouts as often as you like!

Workout 1: Super-Burn Workout (20 to 30 Minutes)

Do two to three circuits, leaving 30 seconds between moves and one to two minutes between circuits.

Exercise

Reps

Lateral Plank Hop

20 (10 each side)

Seated Rotation

20 (10 each side)

Towel Push

10–12

Lateral Plank Hop

20 (10 each side)

Stability-Ball Bridge With Leg Raise

20 (10 each side)

One-Handed Ball Plank

10 (5 each side)

Lateral Plank Hop

20 (10 each side)

Towel Pull

10–12

Workout 2: Fat-Burning Core Workout (15 to 25 Minutes)

Go right from one exercise to the next, and after your last move, take one to two minutes of rest. Repeat the circuit one or two more times.

Exercise

Reps

Seated Rotation

20 (10 each side)

Lateral Plank Hop

20 (10 each side)

Stability-Ball Bridge With Leg Raise

20 (10 each side)

Lateral Plank Hop

20 (10 each side)

One-Handed Ball Plank

10 (5 each side)

Lateral Plank Hop

20 (10 each side)

Workout 3: Quickie Core Workout (10 Minutes)

Perform the following three moves in a circuit, completing up to three rounds, for a speedy but effective tone up.

Exercise

Reps

Towel Pull

10–12

Towel Push

10–12

Seated Rotation

20 (10 each side)

Lateral Plank Hop

Lateral-Plank-Hop

Target Muscles: transverse abdominis, obliques, cardiovascular system

Set Up: Get into push-up position on an exercise mat, with your wrists directly below your shoulders.

Action: Hop both feet first to the left, then to the right, keeping your core engaged, your feet together and maintaining a straight line with your body. Repeat in the same manner for your entire set.

Seated Rotation

Seated-Rotation

Target Muscles: internal and external obliques

Set Up: Sit on a mat with your legs bent and feet lifted from the ground. Place your hands lightly behind your head and lean back about 45 degrees.

Action: Rotate through your waist, first to the right, then the left, keeping your abs contracted and your elbows wide. Repeat with control for the remainder of your set.

Training Tip: This “V-sit” position can be difficult to hold if your balance or core strength isn’t great; beginners, try it with your feet planted on the mat.

Towel Push

Towel-Push

Target Muscles: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, deltoids

Set Up: Kneel on all fours with your palms on a folded towel. Place an exercise mat under your knees for comfort.

Action: Brace your abs as you push the towel away from you to a comfortable extension; beginners can push a foot or two, while the more advanced can extend further. Concentrate on using your abs, not your arms, to pull yourself back to the starting position. Repeat.

Training Tip: The surface must be smooth (carpet won’t cut it).

One-Handed Ball Plank

One-Handed-Ball-Plank

Target Muscles: transverse abdominis, deltoids

Set Up: Lie on your stomach on top of a ball, placing your palms on the floor under your shoulders and lifting your legs.

Action: Slowly raise one arm. Hold for five seconds, then lower and repeat with your opposite arm. Continue alternating.

Training Tip: Your head and hips should be in line. If they’re not, you need a smaller ball.

Towel Pull

Towel-Pull

Target Muscles: rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus

Set Up: Get into push-up position on a smooth surface, with a folded towel under your toes and wrists aligned under your shoulders.

Action: Contract your abs and bend your knees and hips to draw your feet toward your bod. Extend your legs and repeat.

Training Tip: Watch your hips – keep them level as you move.

Stability-Ball Bridge with Leg Raise

stability-ball-bridge-with-leg-raise

Target Muscles: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, gluteus maximus, erector spinae

Set Up: Lie faceup on a mat, with your arms at your sides and heels resting on top of a stability ball. Contract your abs and lift your hips from the ground.

Action: Slowly raise one foot off the ball, hold for two counts, then lower and repeat with your other leg. Continue alternating for the remainder of your set.

Related Articles