Workouts for every body part series
Do you strive to have a well-defined six-pack or a tight mid-section to be center piece for your muscular physique? A muscular core shows both strength and health and many people don’t realize it, but it doesn’t take a lot to get a flat and toned stomach – you just need to do the right exercises.
All of our movements are powered by our torso – the abdominal work together with the back to support the spine when we stand, sit, bend over, exercise, and many more. So, whether your goal is to have a strong core, a flat belly, or build a six-pack, these are the exercises that work your mid-section the best:
- Kettlebell windmill
With a kettlebell in one hand, stand with feet more than shoulder-width apart. Bring the weight to your left shoulder and then press it overhead. While rotating your chest to the left, look up at the kettlebell and try touching your right foot with your right hand. Pause for a moment and return keeping your left arm extended. You need to do eight reps before lowering the weight, and then repeat for the other side.
- Unsupported one-arm row
Holding a kettlebell in your right hand, place the top of your left hand on your lower back, standing with your feet hip-width apart. Now lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor, keep your back flat, knees slightly bent and let your right arm hang from your shoulder. Pull the weight to the side of your chest without moving your torso and hold for a moment, then lower the weight back to start. Do eight reps for this exercise as well, then repeat using your left arm.
- Side plank
Lie on your right side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your right forearm and rest your left hand on your hip, bracing your abs and holding it for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5, continuing like so for 1 minute. Be sure your hips and knees stay off the floor.
- Lunge with rotation
Hold a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms straight out. Take a big step forward with your left foot and, bracing your abs, twist your torso to the left as you bend your knees and lower your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles. Twist back to center, push off your left foot, and stand back up. Repeat on the other leg for 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps. Remember to keep your elbows straight but not locked.
- Swiss-ball jackknife
Get into a pushup position with your arms straight and your shins resting on a stability ball. Roll the ball toward your chest by pulling it forward with your legs and feet. Pause for a moment, then return to the starting position by lowering your hips as you push the ball backward with your legs. Do 10 reps for this exercise.
- Decline sit-ups
Get on a decline bench where you can have your feet supported and use your abs to sit yourself all the way up to the top. Squeeze for 1-2 seconds at the top then lower yourself back down quickly and repeat
Here are a couple of tips to help you get tight, toned abs faster:
- Always warm up properly – a warmed up core is a happy core. Your abs are tied in to your lower back, so it's extremely important to start any workout with a proper warm up in order to prevent injury.
- Go slow – if you really want to feel the burn, slow down. Changing the speed of your abs exercises will work your abs in a more targeted way that boosts strength and results/
- Maintain constant tension – Flex your abs and keep them that way throughout your entire core workout, whether you're doing crunches, planks, or balance work.
- Change it up – for best results, you need to change up your entire workout every four to six weeks.
- Balance workout – if you want stronger abs, you need to incorporate balance work into your routine. Whether it's a stability ball, a balance board, or simply just standing on one leg, exercises that test your balance cause you to fire your core deeply, giving you a more effective ab workout.
- Use weights – just like any other muscle, your abs need to be challenged to get stronger. So if regular sit-ups aren't doing it anymore, throw some weight into the mix and watch your results multiply.
- Don’t hold your breath - your core muscles need oxygen to work at full capacity, so be sure that you keep breathing. As a general rule, you want to inhale on the easiest part of the move (on the way down from a crunch) and exhale when you have to exert the most force (on the way up on a crunch).
- Close your rib cage – when you lower down from a sit-up, pay close attention and keep your rib cage closed. This helps to "crunch" your abs more, engage your transverse abdominals, and keep your back safely supported.
- Focus on the burn – pay attention to what we're doing. Focusing on the exercise at hand, you are less exposed to injuries and you engage the mind-body connection which helps to recruit more muscle fibers and improves your results.
- Healthy diet – however much time you spend in the gym each week, it’s worthless if your diet isn’t on point. You need a diet with plenty of lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The result of any workout does not rely solely on exercising, but dieting as well. The diet you’re following should be on point to lose the excess weight. If you are struggling with eating healthy, or don’t have a clear idea of what can help you, we’ve got you back in this department as well! Here’s a list of top foods for a six-pack:
- Bell peppers – vitamin C-rich foods like peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can help keep you trim.
- Eggs – eggs contains a nutrient called choline that boosts metabolism and may help turn off the genes responsible for belly fat storage.
- Bananas – a bloated belly can make even the most toned stomach look bad, but bananas increase bloat-fighting bacteria in the stomach, and are also a good source of potassium, which can help diminish water retention.
- Green tea – sipping green tea can make your time spent at the gym more worthwhile, because 4 to 5 cups of green tea each day help you lose more belly fat due to catechins, an antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and it’s found in green tea.
- Fresh pears – another good source of antioxidants.
- Lean poultry – turkey and chicken boost satiety, helping you eat less at subsequent meals, and it also has a high thermogenic effect compared to fats and carbs.
- Acorn squash – besides serving up a third of the day’s fiber, a one-cup serving of this highly nutritious veggie contains 30 percent of your daily vitamin C needs and it makes your body use the nutrient to form muscle and blood vessels, boosting the ab uncovering effects of exercise.
- Black beans – beans are an advanced fat-burning, muscle-building machine and a great source of protein that includes fiber.
- Oatmeal – oats are loaded with carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady, ab-muscle-friendly energy.
- Sweet potatoes – are loaded with fiber, nutrients and can help you burn fat.
Ready to go and craft a perfect mid-section?