Sometimes abdominal exercises (aka core work or ab work) can go overlooked in the gym. As you use your core for most workouts anyways—especially cardio—sometimes we forget to set aside time to focus solely on our abs. And no, we’re not just talking about doing a few sit-ups and calling it good.
Aside from the obvious appeal of “rock-hard abs” and a “chiseled-core,” your core muscles are incredibly important when it comes to maintaining your health. A strong core can prevent back pain, improve posture, and help strengthen your breathing muscles. All of these things are even more important if you sit at a desk all day.
To improve your core strength, incorporate a few of these ab exercises into your weekly workout routine. You can do them in addition to your cardio and other training, or you can dedicate a set amount of time specifically to your ab work. Either way, start focusing on your abs now for a stronger, healthier body in the long run.
Make sure your core is active, your hips are down (your bottom should not be in the air), and your weight is evenly distributed over your shoulders. You can do plans on your elbows, your hands, or alternate between the two (up-downs). Side planks are also great for your core.
Don’t write sit-ups off because they are the average ab exercise. Sit-ups, when done correctly, are great for your core. Make sure your feet stay flat on the ground (use a partner or weight to keep them down). You can also add weight to your core to increase difficulty or rotate/twist at the top to work your obliques.
This workout is exactly what it sounds like—you lying on your back and fluttering your feet. Keep your legs straight and your heels six or so inches from the ground. Make sure to breathe and focus on keeping a strong core. You should feel this in your lower abdominals.
Also done on your back, keep your legs straight and raise them slowly until your feet are flat and face the ceiling. Keep a tight core and change up the speed for an added variation (down slow, up fast). You can also add leg weights for more of a challenge.