If your goal is to have abs then you must target two sets of muscles. First is the rectus abdominal muscles (the ones that run from your sternum to your pelvis, and you engage with them during regular sit-ups).
Second, is the transverse abdominis (the ab muscle which wraps around the spine and is the deepest ab muscle that helps stabilize your core).
You must also know that you cannot exactly spot which area you want to reduce; therefore, you must reduce overall body fat to get your abs to peek through.
Benefits of Doing Ab Exercises
Many people miss out on training their abdominal muscles when working out. In doing so, they also miss out on the benefits that come with abdominal workouts. If you have been skipping your ab sessions lately, then it’s time for you to look at some of the key benefits of ab workouts.
Enhanced Posture and Stability
Abdominal muscles play an essential role in supporting the spine, providing balance, stability, and respiratory functions like breathing. Enhancing endurance and building strength in these muscles is crucial as it provides benefits like reduced back pain, improved posture, and stability.
Improved Performance in Sports
Many sports and intense workouts require balance, core strength, and overall stability. Abdominal workouts help target the muscles, which provide core strength while performing activities.
These workouts allow the sports person to transfer more energy from their core to their limbs and help increase their overall performance compared to the sports players who have weaker abdominal muscles.
Reduced Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain affects almost every other person today, and weak abdominal muscles result in increased lower back pain. The lower back muscles which are not exercised and trained become more rigid and may lead to chronic lower back pain.
Abdominal exercises target the back muscles and the spine which can make them more flexible and less rigid, which in turn reduces lower back pain. These workouts also help reduce back pain that is linked to poor posture.
Abdominal workouts help reduce body fat, which is the cause of many diseases such as diabetes and obesity. It helps increase muscle mass and enhance body metabolism while helping to burn more fat, which leads to a trimmer and leaner body.
Increased Strength to Lift Weights
Abdominal exercises significantly enhance your overall strength, so many exercises and workouts become easier with strong abdominal muscles. It also provides strength to do more heavyweights. Ab workouts strengthen the torso and provide a stable base for lifting weights without the fear of getting injured.
9 Effective Ab Exercises
Whether you perform plank poses in a yoga class or during your regular gym workout routine, plank poses do wonders in tightening your tummy. A classical plank pose requires you to lie down on your stomach and raise your entire body weight on your toes and hands in a plank position.
You can then hold this pose for as long as you can. You can also try doing a side pose by putting all your weight on one forearm and the sides of your feet. You may also perform back leg lifts during a traditional plank pose. Performing the plank poses by using an ab mat would support you and enhance your stability.
Pilates helps you work out your abdominals and allows you to target your core muscles. It also involves the reformer, which helps strengthen and stretch your deep abdominal muscles.
Pilates is low-impact, so if you are looking for gentle joint exercise, then Pilates is a perfect choice for you.
3. Fat-Burning Cardio
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you want to reduce fat, you must include 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise in your routine.
Adding fat-burning cardio is an essential exercise to your workout routine for reducing fat. You can choose any cardiovascular activity that interests or motivates you and get moving to get the abs you want.
4. Bicycle Crunches
The bicycle crunches help your core muscles. This exercise, when performed accurately, can help carve out a toned midsection. However, it would be best if you did not strain your neck when doing this exercise.
You need to lie down on an ab mat and place your hands behind your head while gently supporting your head with your fingers. Then, you need to bring your knee to your chest while rotating your upper body to meet your knee using the elbow of your opposite arm.
The opposite leg will be straight out. You will then switch to the opposite side while cycling the legs. You must do one to three sets of 12 repetitions each.
5. Torso Twist
This ab exercise is performed while standing up. All you need to do is stand with your feet hip-distance apart with your hands on your hips, twist your upper body to the right side, and then go back to the center.
You are then required to repeat it on the left side, then go back to the center. You must work up to three sets of 15 repetitions. You can also add to this exercise by using some small hand weights and placing your arms to the side while doing the twists.
Lunges are not exactly an ab exercise, but it is extremely effective as an overall body toner, especially when working out your core muscles.
You are required to stand with your feet hip-width apart, then step forward in a lunge position. It will help if you keep your back knee about 3 inches off the ground. For more intensity, you may also add small dumbbells.
7. Sit-Up Twists
For performing sit-up twists, twist to one side, then another to give your oblique the extra stretch and range it needs. Your ab mat will guide your core and add to the burn when your legs are elevated.
8. Side Crunches
Side crunches on an ab mat work just as the crunches in an upright standing position. However, when you lie down on an ab mat and perform a crunch, you can easily target your oblique and get in shape faster.
9. Down Dog
Start with a Downward Dog pose while actively pushing your weight into your heels and reaching your tailbones to the sky. Then lift your left leg by squeezing your left glute. Exhale, and rock your weight forward over your hands while drawing your left knee toward your nose.
Pull your abs to your spine to round your back. Then inhale, and lift your left leg as you push your weight back into your heels, and one rep is complete.
If you wish to get killer abs and build an overall stronger core and muscle groups, then ab exercise is what you must add to your daily workout routine. Use an ab mat to enhance stability, increase movement and allow you to train your core effectively.