Ladies, raise your hand if you want a stronger core! Whether you're working toward athletic goals or you simply want to feel your best (yes, please!), we're covering ab-solutely everything you wanted to know about the best ab workouts for women. Read on for the best tips to start strengthening your core.
Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.
What's The Best Way To Get Abs?
Believe it or not, the best way to get a stable midsection isn't all about doing ab workouts. In fact, the best way to get stronger abs for a girl involves several things.
First, eating clean and incorporating proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats into your diet, while eliminating sugary and processed foods, is key, says Michele Sotak, CPT and Life Fitness Master Trainer. Her favorite way to do this? "I love getting my protein through Vital Performance™ Protein and Vital Performance™ Protein Bars," Sotak says.
Next, adding cardio into rotation can make a big impact. Depending on your goals, you might add in high-intensity intervals (HIIT). This includes sprints on a treadmill, plyometrics such as burpees or intervals on the StairMaster.
(Looking for more inspiration? We love these 2 at-home HIIT workouts!)
Exercise variety is important, Sotak adds. If your goal is to get stronger abs, Sotak recommends thinking outside the crunch. Instead, you should incorporate cable training, lunges and bodyweight workouts. And, using equipment, such as a Bosu ball, to help challenge and stabilize the core.
While there are not necessarily specific ab workouts for women, here are some effective ab exercises anyone can do. The best part is they can all be done anywhere — the gym, at home or even in a hotel.
What Are The Most Effective Ab Exercises?
We recently had a reader ask, "How can a girl get abs in 2 weeks?" (We love the optimism, but having visible abs isn't always the healthiest goal.)
While an overall well-rounded workout routine is important for getting stronger, there are a few effective ab exercises that can help strengthen your core — that aren't sit-ups. Top of the list? Planks. Unlike crunches, which can put unwanted pressure on your spine or neck, planks provide a more stable approach that targets many muscles at once.
Here are a few of the best plank exercises to swap into your routine:
- Forearm Plank with Reach: Start in a forearm plank with your elbows underneath shoulders. Keeping core engaged and hips still, reach your right arm out in front of you, pause then return to starting position. Repeat on the left side and continue alternating.
- Reverse Plank: Start seated, with legs straight out in front of you. Place hands on the floor next to your hips with your fingertips pointing toward your toes. Engage core and glutes to lift your hips off the ground. Hold.
- Cross-Body Mountain Climber: Start in a high plank with hands underneath your shoulders. Engage glutes and core and bring right knee in toward left elbow while keeping a flat back. Return to starting position and repeat on opposite side. You can perform the move with a fast or slow tempo.
Other Ab Exercises To Try
If you want to add more than just planks, there are other ab exercises you can do. While there are no certain exercises that will help flatten your stomach (and it’s healthy to focus on a well-rounded fitness and nutrition routine), there are plenty of options. Here are two other ab exercises you can try, courtesy of Amanda Dale, Personal Trainer and Nutrition and Wellness Coach.
- Bicycle Crunch: If crunches are typically your go-to, mix it up a bit with these. Dale suggests them since "they work transverse, rectus, and oblique abdominal muscles and encourage stronger neck and lower back muscles to boot."
- Leg Lower: Working those lower abs can be tough, so this move, which uses slow controlled movements, helps to lengthen and strengthen this tricky area.
Why Are Ab Workouts for Women So Important?
Ultimately, there are many benefits to ab workouts, and striving for a six-pack isn’t actually one of them. According to Dale, "Having core strength makes your body basically 'bulletproof' against common back, spine and hip injuries. You'll stand up straighter, enjoy better posture and be able to move more freely through the activities of daily life without strain."
Looking to kick-start your workouts? Try the Lively Ab Workout Challenge.