If you are – or were – a person who exercises rarely to never, then you know how difficult it can be to actually start changing your routine to include more physical exercises, and what a heavy toll it can take on your will and your motivation. Things are made increasingly difficult if you have various body image issues and you’d rather just give up then try to change the way you look, because you feel hopeless, or because the sheer thought of exposing yourself to strangers at a gym is plainly crippling. The point is that, even though this story can be greatly elaborated, getting from a no exercising stance to an exercising one is a difficult journey and proper motivation is crucial to be able to pull it off. The abdomen, especially, is a region which is most likely to cause us self-doubt issues and for most people it is the first area they like to focus their exercising efforts on. We have compiled for you here the best ab workouts you should try in order to make your efforts a success story. All you need to do is give them a try.
Abdomen muscles: Anatomy 101
The abdominal muscles are one of the most complex muscle systems in the human body, and quite a large group as well (right after the glutes, the body’s largest muscles, situated in your thighs). Before we move on to describing the main ab workouts and techniques which we recommend to get your abdomen all toned up, we should first describe the main muscle groups at play here and how they all work together in your abdomen. This way, each exercise you will read about from now on will be understood at a deeper level once you know exactly what muscle it stimulates and how, and in time, after you become more experienced with exercising, you will be able to know instinctively what exercise should be paired up with which and so on. The science behind working out is actually not that complicated once you understand it initially, but having this knowledge up your sleeve can actually make a huge difference in the efficiency of your workouts. Thus, if you know exactly what you’re doing and how to amplify your exercising routine, you can achieve great results even if you cut down time and effort from the process. We’d say that’s a pretty good reason to read on now, and to explore our hub’s resources as much as you can. We’ve centralized the information in one place and it’s all just ripe for the taking.
About the abdominal muscles, we should start by saying they can be split into three main groups: the external oblique, the internal oblique, and the most internal sheath, called the transverse abdominus. There are also some other minor muscles in the abdomen (like the pyramidalis muscle), but we won’t discuss them here because they aren’t actually involved in any ab workouts you’ll be trying. About the main muscle layers mentioned above, they are displayed from the outside to the inside and cover up most of the abdominal cavity, including the outer reaches and the end of the ribs. Here is what you need to know about each:
· The external oblique muscles –This is the largest and most superficial muscle layer from the abdomen, stretching mostly over the lateral and anterior regions of the abdominal cavity. It is a broad and thin muscle, displaying an irregular quadrilateral texture. Its more muscle-full part is situated directly in the lateral of the trunk, over the ribs, making it more or less equivalent to the human waist. It is connected not only to the internal oblique muscles situated directly underneath, but also to the latissimumdorsi muscles (also called the lats, situated in the lateral of the body but in the back). This isn’t a muscle which is visible in most people (especially in women), because it is too thin and small under the natural layers of fat which cover the area. However, you will find lots of links and articles detailing exercises and workouts for the oblique muscles (including on our own website), but there’s no need for confusion: oblique exercises usually refer mainly to the internal oblique muscle layer, which we’ll detail further below.
· The internal oblique muscles – This is the second deepest layer of the abdominal muscles, situated directly underneath the external oblique and over the transverse abdominus. Its fibers run perpendicular over the fibers of the other oblique muscles, making them create a strong net together, which helps protect the abdominal cavity and keep everything inside it in place. The internal oblique has two main roles in the body: it helps with breathing (acting as a counteract force to the diaphragm), and it helps move the torso and the trunk, especially in moves like rotations and side bending. This muscle is more receptive to stimulation through workouts, and an important part of all ab workouts focuses on them.
· The transverse abdominus muscle – This is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscle system and it is also considered by most trainers you’ll ever meet to be the main component of the core muscles (and you’ll notice that many exercises, even if they’re focusing on various other body parts, recommend you to contract your so-called core for a number of seconds). This is a fairly large muscle, situated underneath the internal oblique muscles, and covering the central part of your abdomen. Most of the exercises contained by ab workouts will focus on shaking this muscle into responding. The transverse abdominis muscle is primarily engaged in lifting weights from the floor level, and a failure to properly contract it during lifting can lead to damage on the spine. This muscle functions as a corset over the whole abdominal cavity and the organs in it and the tension provided by this muscle layer is essential to protecting everything underneath the midsection.
Preparing for Ab Workouts
Exercising in general shouldn’t be performed without some careful warming up, as well as getting yourself up to speed with everything you will be doing and how and why. This rule of thumb couldn’t be truer than when it comes to ab workouts, since these are a type of workout which can get pretty intense. Think about it like this: these are the muscles that form and cover your core, and the very muscles that you also use to control your breathing. Since any intense workout tends to lead to heavy breathing, ab workouts will be even more challenging than most, especially since science confirms that when it comes to abdominal exercises, a 20-minute intense round is more effective than a 40-minute slow-paced one. An ab workout will therefore be pretty similar to a heavy cardio routine, which is challenging to say the least, especially for beginners.
To make sure you’re up for it, you need to prepare with a short preexercising session. First of all, warm up your middle body by bending your trunk in all directions (like drawing a circle with your torso), while keeping your legs and feet still (and at shoulder width). When you feel things beginning to unwind, you can continue by warming up your shoulder and hip joints (through similar circular motions in the air). Also, mentally prepare for the fact that when the ab workout you’re going to follow will get at its most intense point, you will very probably feel so tired and out of breath that you’ll be tempted to give up. Don’t! Hang in there, and you’ll soon grow accustomed to it (in a few weeks or so). Since this is a very intense kind of workout, the good part is that the oxygen flow to your blood will be so increased (hence the need for heavy breathing) that you will continue to nourish your muscles with oxygen and to burn fat for a few hours even after you stop exercising. So all it needs is a bit of willpower and focus.In fact, we’ve also prepared a list for you,one of those great cheat sheets of ten tips to help you stick to your guns – and your workout routines.
If you think listening to some energizing music can help you keep going, then by all means, compile your favorite selection of upbeat songs (Youtube is full of pre-made video compilations ideal for working out) and let them play in the background, as loud or as quiet as you want. This playlist can include whatever genre best energizes you, from rap and hip hop to dubstep and dance to ballet music (this is actually highly appropriate if you want to try out barre exercises).Even if metal, country or Christian rock are your thing, make sure the playlist includes your favorite band or your pet larger-than-life song.
If you think it would add to your comfort, keep a bottle of water nearby for the moment for when you’re absolutely dying to take a sip, but don’t let this become an excuse for breaking your pace. As for the amount of water you can actually drink during the workout, we wouldn’t recommend taking more than a few sips at a time, since too much water in your stomach can make the ab exercises uncomfortable or may even get you to become nauseous.
Remember that you can exercise pretty much anytime during the day, as long as it’s not directly after a meal, for the same reasons as above. Most people like to pump iron and increase their energy with a bit of fun at the gym early in the morning. This also works well for most people’s schedules – however, there is no set rule that you have to start out your day like this, if your peak energy levels happen later during the day. Also, if you’re female and currently going through a pregnancy, you will definitely want to consult with a doctor, before doing as much as setting foot on an elliptical – much less considering a full bodyweight Brazilian lift, burpee, or any other strenuous move. Don’t go near an Evans workout machine if you’re expecting kids, because you don’t want to endanger that for the sake of flatter abs.
4. What to wear
Select clothes which are elastic and comfortable but tight enough, since loose clothes can actually get in the way of your moves and are better avoided. Whatever you do, don’t cheap out when it comes to gym clothing – and especially when it comes to footwear. Good running or walking shoes are usually a great choice for most types of workouts, from ‘mild’ Zumba and yoga, to the most complex TRX bar insane Navy seal bootcamp plan. Bear in mind that, even though you’re working out your abs, you don’t want your knees and other joints to get injured in the process. But does the actual brand of clothing you buy make a difference? Some will swear by Nike, others will only feel comfortable in sexy 80s leggings at the gym – the point is to stay comfortable, at the end of the day (read: workout). All in all, these days you can find cute girls and womens gym clothes and shoes on sale nearly the year round. Spring for a discount, keep your gear simple and comfy for your own sake and we bet you’ll learn to love working out.
5. Mind the burnout
Also, keep in mind that the potentially nasty side effect of ab workouts is the fact that the burn-out and the soreness you may experience in your core and obliques after the first few times will most likely be more severe than the others you have experienced so far. Bear this in mind when you pick out the weights you use: ideally, you should be able to perform a min of 7 or 8 reps with them. But don’t feel bad if you can only do the basic seven at first. As all great runners can tell you, a marathon starts with a single step. Think about it like this: your core muscles are involved in the slightest little movement , even the involuntary ones like breathing, not to mention any yawning, sighing, hiccupping or simply changing your position. And all of these mundane activities will be somewhat uncomfortable if your core and abdominal muscles are sore, obviously.
When it comes to getting – and staying – on track with a workout, everyone has their own approach. Some people will find inspiration to stay fit in a motivational quote; others will stumble upon it in a tumblr post. Quotes, pictures, posters, an inspirational calendar. There are tons of free online resources to this end, most of which are printable and great for hanging up on the wall or keeping in your pocket at the gym. Also, it’s a good idea to download your own cheat sheet or guide of the workout, irrespective of whether it’s a pre-set plan like Tracy Anderson’s, or something tailored by and for you. This will help you stay on track on a weekly basis, instead of feeling like bashing your head against a wall each time the thought of a workout pops up in your head.
This is slightly more tricky, since what you eat during your workout plans depends entirely on your goals. Aiming for weight loss? Avoid the added sugar and excess carbs. Stick to lean protein and make your meals small, but balanced. Always have a snack after the workout, because there’s nothing worse then depriving your muscles of the energy they need in order to reconstruct after the workout. You can also choose to track what you eat, either with an I Phone/Android app or an Excel log, which you can then print out as a .pdf to track your progress. Furthermore, some workout plans, such as P90X, or Jillian Michaels Ultimate Beachbody actually come with their own diet plan. Since these are based on scientific research, you can safely follow them, without having to worry that you’re endangering your health. Remember: the point is not just to get ripped and/or skinny. The point is to stay healthy and motivated, with a balanced lifestyle of exercise and nutrition.
Over the past few years, as extreme workout plans and bodybuilder routines have gained popularity, so has the reach of supplements. The supplement craze definitely has some benefits, in the sense that it has made the market much more competitive and diverse. However, while some of them, such as GNC, caffeine or creatine, have had their effects tested at length, others remain more or less under-researched. Always read the reviews, at the very least, and make sure you buy the newest version of the product, since C4 produced in 2012, for instance, can have a completely different composition from the same supplement made in 2013. And never go with the fad of the month, no matter how positive a review you’ve read on that new product. Let it stay on the market for a while, even though it was highly rated at first. See where it goes, in terms of popularity and effects and only then decide if you want to jump on the bandwagon.
9. Take it easy
The Spartacus diet.The latest DVD for Dwayne Johnson’s triceps routine.Insanity vs Focus T25.Bodybuilding heroes such as Bruce Lee,Ronnie Coleman, Kai Greene, Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, Chris Hemsworth. Basketball players with impressive forearms and great abb muscles, such as James Anderson, Jimmy Butler, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa – and the list of examples could go on and on endlessly. They all look perfect, don’t they? Who wouldn’t want to be on their team?But if you want to get ripped and massive like Wolverine, Thor, or Captain America, it’s going to take more than a 5x5 set on the dumbbell. In fact, there’s no way to look like pro ball players and lifters quick, even if you stick to a strict regimen like the MMA workout, or what have you. They follow advanced workout plans, which you can’t buy on DVDs.
10. Don’t give up!
Our advice on this is, again, to not allow yourself to get demoralized and to just hang in there and keep up the good work. Make no mistake: you will, occasionally come across some douchebag dead set on becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or Hugh Jackman, who enjoys making everyone else feel less able. Just because they’re big and ripped and you’re new at the gym, perhapseven showing some belly flab, this doesn’t mean they have the right to rip on you. In fact, there will always be someone out there with bigger muscles than you – the mens locker room can be cruel like that. But it’s not about size. It’s about working toward your goals on a daily basis, week in and week out, at your own pace, no matter if you live out west, in GA, RI, MA, NJ, or wherever else. Attaining that perfect set of abs is much more a matter of inner determination than anything else.
Popular Ab Workouts Recommended by Experts
In this sub-section, we will detail for you the most popular workouts for your abs that trainers all over the world would recommend for you. If you’re truly looking for the best way possible to tone up your abs for good, these are the top-notch ways to go.
The Insanity Workout Schedule
The Insanity Workout plan is a highly efficient – but also highly intense – workout routine devised for the whole body, and it seems to work especially well for toning the abs and burning fat from the area. Since the name already suggests it, we will assume that you understand this is a high-powered and intense workout routine – even good for bodybuilding and strength training. It’s popular with both women and men and the best part about it is that you can download it for free from its official website, and you can also practice it at home, if for one reason or another a gym would be inconvenient for you.
The main highlights of the Insanity Workout plan, as far as abdominal muscles are concerned, are the cardio abs exercises. “Cardio”, in case you are a beginner unfamiliar with the term, usually refers to a series of high-power, intense exercises that get the blood flowing and make your heart rate go up (as well as accelerate your breath), hence the name “cardio”. In this case, the cardio exercises are designed by fitness experts to target the abdominal area specifically and help get you into shape. Such exercises work particularly well if your goal is also to melt some fat from the area, like the so-called muffin top. Here are the most important cardio exercises you should try if you want to give your ab workouts the insanity twist.
· The Spiderman Jog – This is a great exercise to start with as part of the workout, since it doubles as warming up too. You need to “jog” without actually moving across the room; and you will do so while mimicking climbing moves. Begin by jogging in place, with your feet relatively close together and your arms lifted above your head. After you start “jogging”, open your needs wide to your sides and start bringing your right elbow down as you lift your left knee, and bringing your left elbow down as the right knee gets high up into the air. You need to alternate these moves and the sides as quickly as possible. You won’t believe how effective this will prove to be for your waist and core muscles! Keep it up for at least 60 seconds, and then take a break for a few moments and repeat for or three more series, if you can.
· The power knee strike –This is another soliciting cardio move, this time inspired from kick-boxing and martial arts rather than from climbing. As a bonus, it’s also a great thigh and butt exercise, not just an ab one. Start by keeping your arms up above your head, your weight on your left leg and your right leg slightly extended to your side, but still resting on the floor. Contract your abs tightly and bring your right knee up and across your trunk towards the left shoulder in a swift motion. When the knee is at its highest point, tap your thigh with both hands. Repeat for the left knee (towards your right shoulder) and so on. Keep articulating and alternating these moves as fast as possible for at least 3 minutes (and 5 minutes after you become more experienced).
· The mountain climbers – Anther move that resembles climbing, this classic cardio ab exercise is so effective it even has a section of its own on our website (complete with videos and exercise variations, so check it out). For this exercise, you need a fitness mat, and to lie on it with your weight rested on your hands and wrists, as if you were preparing for push-ups. Keep your shoulders directly above your hands, to form a right angle with the rest of your body. Then, as fast as you can, bring one of your knees forward towards your chest, into the air, as close to the core of your body as possible, then repeat for the other knee and so on. Alternate sides as fast as you can for at least 30 seconds. Once you reach the pro level (after at least a few months of training) you will be able to go for as fast as 300 seconds! That means 6 minutes of pure cardio – which could even lead to a mild 6-pack effect in your central and lower ab.
· Burpees – These exercises with a funny name as super effective as a general toner for your whole arm region as well (forearm, bicep, tricep – name it), in addition to being a killer ab training move. If used intensively, it could even be a great exercise for mass building, but if you just practice it as part of the ab-focused Insanity Workout, it will have a great toning effect. To perform this exercise, stand tall with your feet at hip width, right next to a working mat. Bend both your knees, swing your arms back with a firm and swift move and take off the ground as high as possible. As you land softly, immediately lay down by bending your knees, put your hands on the mat in front of you, lower your chest (as if preparing for a push-up) and then jump right back up to your feet. Repeat by jumping up again one you’re standing, and so on. Three minutes of performing these moves as fast as possible are effective enough.
The CrossfitAb Workout
The Crossfit series of workouts are incredibly effective for strength training and mass building, so if the Insanity Workout was in a way better suited for the ladies, then this workout plan is actually more popular with the men looking to score a rock-hard upper and lower abdomen.It’s even popular as part of military training, so you can expect it to be pretty pro-level. The CrossfitAb and Core workout is one of the greatest programs currently recommended by trainers, and these are some of its most effective exercises (which need to be performed together as part of a coherent workout if you want it to show the desired results).
· GHD Sit-ups - A GHD sit-up (short for Glute-Ham developer sit-up) is a very intense exercise, which needs to be performed carefully and under a trainer’s supervision initially, since many people who attempt it on their own complain of back pain afterwards (it can be pretty challenging on your spine). It is also known under the name of “the Roman Chair sit-up” and it requires a special apparatus at the gym. The awesome part about a GHD sit-up is the fact that it’s also an incredibly effective exercise for the leg muscles (especially the glutes and hamstrings). This is an explosive move and note that for full effect, it should not be performed slowly. To begin, sit on the apparatus and secure your lower legs (feet) under the padded bar. Let yourself lay back in the air, until your hips are almost extended, and then raise your body by flexing your hips to bring it back. As a note, you can also use a weight – like a small kettlebell – added to your torso (or behind your neck) to amp up this exercise. Perform 2-3 series of 10 GHD sit-ups per workout to start with, then try raising their number as you become more fit, and if you back will allow it.
· The “Knees to Elbow” – This is another greatly straining exercise, but also a highly rewarding if you keep at it. To perform it, you need an immobile and sturdy bar above you, which you can use to grip with your hands and hang on to. After you successfully hang in the air, bring your knees to your elbows in a swift move, laying your head and upper torso back for balance. It will feel exhausting and intense, but do your best to perform a series of 10-15 such moves and pretty soon your whole body will thank you, not just your abs. That’s why they call is a Crossfit workout.
· Plain sit-ups and push-ups – These exercises don’t differ from the regular sit-ups and push-ups you already probably know, but they are often introduced as part of a CrossfitAb and Core Workout plan, because they perform miracles on the rectum abdominis and transverse abdominis muscles (the ones at your very core). You will need a fitness mat for each, but that’s it, and since there’s no special equipment needed, then you can easily perform these exercises at home. For best results, pair them together into a long series of 15 push ups followed by 15 sit-ups immediately after. You can take a 1 minute break to catch your breath, and then repeat 15 plus 15 more. It sounds challenging, but considering they’re the plain version and not the way harder GHD sit-ups or the knee-to-elbow move, you’ll find them to be almost a respite within the general workout plan.
· The Hollow Rock – Within the topic of ab workouts, this particular exercise is considered by most trainers to be the most effective core strengthener possible. This exercise will look pretty easy if you watch it from afar, but you will find it’s a bit harder to perform that it seems. The good news is that if you keep including it in your routine, you will soon develop abs and a six pack worthy of a Spartan or a Brazil football god. To get started, make sure you have a fitness mat on the floor. Lie down on it, with your face up and both your hands and your feet extended into the air, at a height of approximately one foot off the floor. Maintain the position, and then start rocking back and forth as if you were a rocking chair. Keep your body stiff and refrain from lifting your arms and legs any further than they are already lifted. The key to mobility is to rely on the arch of your lumbar spine – try to achieve a nice round shape all along the line from your shoulders to your butt. Keep going at it for as long as you can: around 3 minutes (or more) would be ideal.
· Jump ropes – This is another exercise you may know from before any mention of the Crossfit workouts, since it’s as classical as they get. What you may have not known about skipping ropes is that they can help strengthen your core and abs significantly, especially when paired up with the rest of the exercises in this work-out. To do this, just get a skipping rope and start jumping. If you’re feeling fancy, try crisscrossing the way you grip the handles. Either way, make sure you don’t stop until you’ve counted 100 jump ropes. Your future abs (and legs) will thank you for your perseverance.
The Tabata 4-minute Workout
This is a super-intense variation of a Crossfit workout program, meant to be complete in just 4 minutes per day, and still burn a significant amount of fat and develop the muscles strongly enough. The so-called Tabata Training Program is actually a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), mean to take up little time, for busy but committed people. It all revolves during an interval of intense training, followed by a break and then a repeat and so on. For example, you can sprint for 20 seconds and then walk for ten while you catch your breath, and this would be considered an effective form of interval training.
The point about the Tabata program, one of the best ab workouts ever, is that you can use any combination from a vast number of possible exercises, as long as they qualify as ab-intensive or cardio stimulating, and as long as you perform them all by following the 20-10 rule. This rule is the one exemplified above, stating that you must perform the exercise quite intensely for 20 seconds, and then do something slow-paced for the next 10, and keep repeating this circuit until 4 minutes have passed.
Tabata can focus, for example, on weights: simply pick 4 exercises involving your favorite weights (like barbells or dumbbells, particularly) and perform then all at a fast and intense pace for 20 seconds, and at a slow and relaxed pace for 10, and so on. We can guarantee you than even if you don’t spend so much time training as in the cases of the other ab workouts presented here, you will still obtain impressive results. Just make sure you perform the exercises as fast as possible in the 20 second intense interval.
The Pilates Workout for Abs
This is again an example of an ab workout pretty relaxed (at least compared to the Crossfit routine) and generally better suited for women than it is for men (since most women are looking to get toned, and most men are instead looking to build mass). As opposed to cardio exercises which tend to be hot and heavy and intensely demanding, Pilates is a fitness strategy focusing more on controlled movements and on maintaining balance. Things never get intense enough to cause you to lose your breath (since a large part of the Pilates strategy is controlling your breath anyway), but this physical discipline can still offer you one of the most effective ab workouts you’ve tried so far, especially if you’re only looking to tone and not to build mass. Here are the main Pilates-inspired ab exercises you should base your workout on if this sounds right for you:
· The saw – For this exercise, all you need is a fitness mat laid on the floor. Sit tall on it, with a straight back and with your core and ab muscles as tightened as you can. Open your arms to the sides of your body, as you try to bring your shoulder blades closer together, like trying to “crack a walnut” between them. Open up your legs wider than your shoulder width and ground your bottom firmly in the ground: your purpose should be obtaining as much stability on the exercising mat as possible. Inhale as you move your trunk to one side, rotating it to the left and round over the left knee. Press your right hand against the outer edge of the left foot and make sure you lift your back arm as high as possible. You can exhale while sliding your right hand along your outer foot in “sawing” motions, progressive and forward, as the upper body is drawing back to create some tension for the oblique muscles. This will get your waist all sculpted up in no time. Return to the starting position and repeat for about three sets per side of body (so six sets total).
· The double leg stretch – Lie on the mat face up and flat on your back. Hug both of your knees into your chest, while you keep your head lifted forward and your elbows widely opened. Concentrate on tightening your core muscles. Next, inhale with control (that means to inhale slowly), while you make your legs reach forward and your arms backward to stretch in an opposition. At this stage, you need to draw your abdominals in deeply in order to create enough support for your spine. This contracting and drawing will get those ab muscles toned up in no time. You can then exhale slowly, while deepening your stance back into the hug position. Use the weight of your knees to apply pressure on your lungs and chest in order to expel (exhale) as much air as possible. Repeat this exercise six times per workout.
· Crisscross – This is another classic Pilates move intended for the ab area, which is not only highly effective but also quite relaxing to perform. You need to lie down on the training mat again, face up, and to put your hands (palm over palm) behind your head. Keep your knees bent slightly into your chest and your head slightly lifted (with the help of your palms). This will be your starting position. Take a deep breath, slowly, and lift your torso by twisting it to the left until the right elbow connects to the left knee. Straighten the free foot forward and keep it lifted from the mat for a few inches. Exhale slowly and twist to the right this time, allowing the left elbow and the right knee are connected. Continue to alternate between the sides (but not at the fast pace the cardio and Crossfit workouts demanded) and repeat until you have completed six sets of repeats.
· Single leg circles – This is another great exercise from the general Pilates repertoire, and it is also among the most effective abs toner this school of movement has ever devised. You will again need a training mat and to lie down on it with your face upwards. Anchor the backs of your shoulders to the mat and extend your arms along it, to have them long and sturdy next to your body. Stretch one leg up into the air (towards the ceiling), and as straight and close as possible to being perpendicular on the other leg (which remained on the floor). Draw some imaginary circles in the air with your leg, across your body and then going lower towards the ankle, then one out, one around and one back up, finally. Keep the movements well controlled and your core muscles contracted. Execute five mirrored circles with your other leg and one set is done. Repeat 5 sets per workout and you should give both your legs and your abdomen an effective and good session of training.
· Teaser – This exercise with an intriguing name is again, one of the classic moves in Pilates training, and one with great potential for any ab workouts. Again, you will require a training mat and to lie down on it, face up. Keep your arms overhead with your biceps by your ears, and make sure your back is flat on the mat and your legs and knees are squeezed together tightly. Inhale slowly while you bring both your arms and your legs forward into the air, as if reaching for something very tempting but too far up in the air (this imaginary strive is what gives the exercise its teasing name). When your arms are aligned in a parallel position to your thighs, start rolling up towards your feet, moving your spine with one vertebra at a time. Don’t allow your pelvis to strive forward. Slowly exhale as you descend back down, and maintain the vertebra by vertebra approach. This way, if the whole move happens as slowly as possible, not only is it most relaxing for the greater body and for your mind, but the core muscles which interest you receive a good run-up in spite of the slow pace.
· The Swimming exercise – Lie on the training mat again, only now with your face down. Arch your back to lift up your head, arms and feet, and then start performing swim style movements with your arms and legs. Inhale and exhale slowly as you alternate one arm with the opposing leg and so on. Count slowly to ten, and try to reach higher and longer with each progressive stroke. Afterwards, if you feel the need for a back counter-stretch, just sit back to your heels. It shouldn’t be more challenging than a stroll in the park or on the treadmill, but it will sculpt up your abs beautifully.
These are the most popular ab workouts right now, and we’re sure that no matter your gender, target goals and your level of previous training, at least one of them suits you perfectly. Give them a try by following our exercise suggestions, and remember that all it takes is the desire to get started. If you keep up with the routine indicated, wonderful results will be seen soon. If there’s any exercise that you can’t visualize or imagine properly, don’t forget about our vast video archive showing each type of exercise you could think of. You can also drop us a few lines to share with the rest your own workout tricks or to tell us if our suggestions helped you or not.