5 Core Exercises: Strengthening your abs

The flat stomach. It appears to be the most sought after thing for girls – along with a nice bum, of course. I remember when I first started going to the gym and that was my main goal, to get a flat stomach, but it’s not as straight forward as doing a few sit ups every day (unfortunately).

They say that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and a bad diet is the main reason you won’t get your desired six pack. To have visible abs, or just a flat tummy, you need to drop your body fat percentage as a whole (unfortunately we can’t spot reduce, sigh) in order for this to happen. Once you’ve done this, you want to strengthen your core so that your abs are as strong as possible, and therefore more visible.

However, one must note that everyone is different. One girl may be able to drop her body fat easily, while another may struggle. I struggle to lose fat from my lower abs. One girl may have a perfect six pack shape, while another may have ‘wonky’ abs. I have quite a nice, even shape to my upper four (thank you genetics, high 5 for that one). It is, as I’ve just stated there, completely down to your body’s make up as to what kind of abs you have – if at all: some girls may have the flattest stomach but no visible abs (I’ve also seen this) no matter how much they train them.

But, if you’re looking at seeing if you can make your abs pop, here are five core exercises for your abdominals that will aid in strengthening them. Alongside having a nice stomach, a strong core is vital for posture and aids overall with weight training and daily exercises, so it’s a win win!

The Plank
Your staple core strengthening exercise, and it really is a killer. Planks are simple but effective. Lie down and rest your weight on your forearms, keeping your body as straight and as flat as possible, holding the position for as long as you can.

Cable Crunches
I prefer to make my ab exercises weighted now that my core is super strong, and this one is perfect. Attach a rope to a cable around head height, select a fairly low weight to begin with (so you can gauge just how much you can do) and grasp the rope with both hands. Pull the rope down so you’re in a kneeling position in front of the equipment. Pull the rope down to crunch into your body, and back up again to your starting position. Note: ensure you begin with an arch in your back.

Slow Decline Sit Ups
Body weight is also great to work your core, and decline sit ups produce a really big burn in your abs. Sit on a decline bench and place your hands behind your head. Slowly lean back, and keep going until your back almost touches the bench, pause, and come back up again slowly. It requires concentration and slow breathing, with the latter being vital when doing ab exercises.

Russian Twists
Perfect for both your abdominals and obliques; grab a medicine ball (or you can begin by doing this unweighted if you prefer) and sit down with your knees bent in front of you. Lift your legs off the floor and twist from side to side with the ball, or if you’re doing this exercise unweighted clasp your hands and use them to twist from side to side.

Of course there are loads more ab exercises you can do, but these are my staple five that even beginners will be able to do!


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