If you are looking for ways to tone up your abs and you don’t want to pay for a gym membership, there are some things that you can do from home. Training your abs and actually getting your abs to show takes lots of hard work and dedication and often involves having to work the fat off of your stomach first before the abs become visible. In fact, for those looking to show off their 6-packs, many fitness trainers will insist that most, if not all, your efforts should be directed to getting rid of the fat, rather than focusing on developing your ab muscles. The reason is that if you don’t do cardio to get rid of the fat, even the best-developed abs won’t show! Conversely, if you do get rid of your fat, even the most pathetic, under-developed abs will show through your skin at least a bit, and your flat stomach, along with a little ab definition, will make you look like a fitness junkie! Having said this, many of the exercises that help develop chiseled abs, also help in burning the fat.
Doing sit-ups and crunches every day does get boring and can make you sore over a period of time if you don’t do them properly or if you do them on a hard surface. Luckily for you, we have come up with some of our top ab exercises so that you can lose weight and get the abs that you want. There are ab machines and wheels available for more the more advanced, but this article will focus on exercises that can be performed in the comfort of your own home with minimum equipment.
1. The Plank
The first exercise that you have most likely heard of is a plank. This is a fairly common exercise that helps to build your core muscles and definitely helps your ab strength. In order to do a proper plank, you have to lay down on the ground and put your elbows and forearms on the floor in front of you. Your elbows should stay at very close to a 90-degree angle and you must lift your body up off the ground until just your toes are on the ground. Make sure that your back is straight and that your legs are straight throughout the duration of the exercise. Arching your back up or down will result in hardly any ab strain. When you do this exercise properly you will feel the strain almost immediately which is something to keep in mind.
2. The Side Plank
Another great way to train your abs is by doing side planks; planks help to tone either side of your abdomen and are a really challenging exercise. In order to perform this exercise all you have to do is lie on your side and keeping your elbow level with your shoulder extend your arm out In front of your body and lift your body off of the ground while keeping one of the sides of your feet on the ground with the other foot resting on the top of it. It is important to make sure that the middle of your body is in alignment with your head and spine while performing this exercise. You will notice that the strain from this exercise is almost immediate and is a good indication that you are doing the exercise properly.
A Little Help with the Plank!
We all know the plank is an excellent way to build abs as well as lower back and butt muscles, but it’s torture while you’re going through it. Most people would much rather run for 5K rather than do a perfect plant for 90 seconds (probably because most decent athletes can’t do a proper plank for 90 seconds!). Well, have we got some great news for you! Not too long ago I discovered a tool that I now ACTUALLY use EVERY DAY (that’s for real!). It’s called the Stealth Core Trainer or Stealth Plankster. It’s basically a triangular-shaped board mounted on a base that allows the board to move freely in all directions.
You then put your forearms on the board to do a plank, but the twist is that you also put your smartphone on it and play any one of several games (with really good graphics) that are meant to help you have fun while you’re doing the plank. However, it does A LOT MORE than help you have fun. It also distracts you enough from the agony of a plank so you might not notice the pain in your abs or lower back. It also makes you twist and rock and tilt while you’re doing the plank which stresses your muscles through more of a range than does a static plank, and that’s a very good thing!
Check out this video of me and my son trying it for the first time!
Here’s how you can check out more info on the Stealth Core Trainer if you like:
Stealth Plankster Core Trainer
If you want to train your abs and work on burning calories, one great way to do this is by doing a set of burpees. A burpee is essentially a set of exercises that you do in a row that trains a variety of muscle groups throughout the various exercises performed. Begin this exercise by squatting down keeping your feet close to should width apart. At this point throw your feet straight back into a push-up position and proceed to do the push-up. If you want to make this portion of the exercise a little bit more difficult you could try doing one-handed push-ups or try wide grip and narrow grip push-ups. After you have done the push-up launch your feet back up towards your hands and stand up and jump as high as you can with your arms above your head. At this point, you have completed one repetition and will have to repeat the steps all over again in order to complete a set.
4. Bicycle Kicks
Another great exercise to help train your abs are bicycle kicks. In order to do bicycle kicks, you first have to find a flat comfortable surface to lie down on. Once you find one, lie down on your back and fully extend out your legs below you so that you are lying down and parallel to the flat surface. At this point place your arms above your head or to either side of your body for extra stability. At this point lift one of your legs off of the ground and bring it into as close to your chest as you can. Once your leg is in place begin moving the opposite leg up to the same position while extended out the other leg. It is important not to let your legs touch the ground when doing this movement and you should keep them at least a few inches off of the ground. When you get to the part where one of your legs is in the bottom position hold it there for a second or two and perform the steps again with your opposite leg.
5. Hanging Leg Raises
If you have a beam/ bar or Pull-Up tower or bar that you can use to work out on one great way to work out your abs is to hang down from the bar and lift your legs up in front of you as far as you can and slowly lower them back down. Not only will this exercise be great for your abs but it will also be great for working out your arms because you will be dangling from a beam. If you want to make things even more difficult you could do a pull-up or a chin-up between each set and see how long you can last.
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6. Medicine Ball Twists
Medicine ball or exercise ball twists are very good for your obliques and works out your abs as well. This is a very difficult exercise especially if you have never done it before. Get yourself some kind of a ball and sit with your legs out in front of you, but up in the air; at this point grab your heavy weight and lift it to either side of your body while trying to keep your legs as still as possible. You should notice the burn from this exercise almost immediately. As you do more medicine ball twists you will slowly start to improve, but just realize that this exercise does take a fair bit of practice and work in order to be good at it.
7. Lying Leg Raise
Another great exercise that you could try is a lying leg raise. In order to do this exercise, all you have to do is lie down on the ground on a flat surface. At this point place your hands under your glutes. Slowly lift your legs up off the floor keeping them perpendicular to the floor as you raise them. Pull them up to where they are at 90 degrees and hold in this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position. If you want to increase the difficulty of this exercise instead of putting your feet on the floor between reps bring them down to a few inches off the floor and repeat the steps above.
8. Leg Lifts
One extremely easy ab exercise that you can do is a leg lift. This is one of the simplest exercises to learn and yet you will still feel the burn from this exercise almost immediately after starting the exercise. The first thing that you have to do is find yourself a flat surface that you can use to lie down on. Once you are lying down on the surface place your hands flat on either side of your body so that you can use them for balance and support if you need it. At this point lift both of your legs off of the ground while keeping them perpendicular to the floor. Lift your legs to about 6 inches or so and then hold that position for as long as possible. Make sure that you keep your hips on the floor while performing this exercise so that you feel the burn in your abs. When you do this exercise it is also important to point your toes forward and away from your body so that you work your muscles harder.
Abs are Made in the Kitchen!
Always remember that the main thing that stops your abs from showing is excess body fat. Ab exercises will help you to reduce your excess body fat as they will burn calories, but in order to make your abs actually show up, you will have to have a caloric deficit until you lose enough fat for them to show through. In order to get a caloric deficit, you can eat healthily, do some cardio and perform your regular ab routines in order to get closer to the abs that you desire. Best of luck with your ab exercises and hope that you can achieve the look and body that you desire.