We all want flat abs, but if time’s short then calorie burning cardio often takes priority over workouts for abs. Giving priority to cardio isn’t a bad thing, because it’s the type of exercise that is most likely to have a positive impact on health. However, there are many benefits to training the abs.
Workouts for abs – the benefits
- Obviously, better ab tone looks good
- Strong abs help to prevent back pain and injury
- Strength and balance in the abdominal muscles is key to good posture
- Strong abs help you do most forms of exercise with better technique, improving results and decreasing the risk of injury
- As you get used to focusing on the ab muscles, you start to naturally engage them more during exercise and every day activities, improving them even further
There are 3 workouts for abs in this post. Each of them should take 5 minutes or less. It’s best to do these exercises on a soft surface – if you don’t have an exercise mat, a folded blanket or quilt will be fine. The instructions are below, with a chart for each workout showing reps/how long to hold for. See the end of the post to download a printable chart of the exercises. Before you do these workouts, please read these general safety guidelines.
Download the workout chart
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Workout #1: Arm and leg raises, elbow plank hold
Being able to stabilise the pelvis is key to successful ab training. The core abdominal muscles should work together to keep the pelvis in its “neutral” position – that is, not tilting forwards or backwards. When the core muscles are out of condition, the pelvis is often a permanent forward tilt. These two exercises focus on the core stabilising muscles.
There are 4 sets of each exercise. In the first set, you hold the arm and leg raises for 8 seconds each side and the plank for 16 seconds. For the following 3 sets, the hold length decreases each time:
Workout #2: Basic and reverse crunch
Crunches and their variations work the top layer of abdominal muscles – the 6 pack. Their job is to flex the trunk towards the legs – like when we bend over. They aren’t involved in stabilising the pelvis as much as the deeper muscles. Because they are more visible, they’re often the ones people want to work. These are the two standard exercises for the 6 pack muscles.
Number of reps
There are 4 sets again, this time starting with 16 reps of each exercise and working down to 4 reps:
Workout #3 Elbow to knee crunches and hip rolls
The oblique muscles are involved in twisting and side bending movements, as well as playing a part in pelvic stability and pulling the abdominal area in flat. Both of these exercise mainly work the obliques.
Number of reps
There are 4 sets of each exercise again. In the first set you do 8 reps each side for both exercises and then work down to 2 reps each side in the last set:
Try to do each of these workouts at least once a week. For better results, do each one twice a week, or do all 3 workouts together 2 or 3 times a week.
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