When it comes to your workouts, there are many areas to focus on. But one of the more popular targets — and one we continually get questions on — are the abdominals, from workouts that work to moves that maximize your time. (Who can blame you for wanting to make a rock-hard six-pack one of your goals?!)
Below, we explore some of these more requested asks, like "what are the most effective ab exercises?" to "what exercise burns the most belly fat?" in a straightforward guide catered to your core. Scroll on for the info!
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.
Ab Workouts Guide: Answering Your Most Pressing Questions
What exercises help support getting abs?
So, where to start when it comes to working out your mid-section?
Amanda Dale, Personal Trainer, Nutrition and Wellness Coach and face of @ThisFitBlonde recommends a few simple exercises for building stronger abs:
- Planks: If you can fit your body onto the ground, you can hold a plank! This isometric exercise strengthens the deep postural muscles supporting the abdominal wall and engages multiple muscle groups at once for an effective use of time.
- Bicycles: While crunches are the typical go-to exercise for many, they are not the most effective in building strong abs; researchers even tested the theory that crunches build strength with a sedentary group and an active group. The result? At the end of the study, the only verdict was that the active group, could perform more crunches and had more endurance. If you absolutely must do crunches, these are the ones that matter - they work transverse, rectus, and oblique abdominal muscles and encourage stronger neck and lower back muscles to boot.
- Leg Drops: Lengthening and tightening the lower abs (a "problem area" for many, especially women) takes slow, controlled contraction with an emphasis on the eccentric (lengthening) part of the exercise.
What are the most effective ab exercises?
Now that we know the general categories to consider when it comes to your ab workouts, we're diving deeper into what the most effective ones are. Katie Verburg, an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry, advises to start with these workouts:
- Forearm Plank with Alternating Reaches: Come into a forearm plank with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your hands clasped. Keeping your core braced and your hips still, reach your right arm forward like Superman. Set it down. Then reach your left. Go right to left without letting go of your core.
- Side Elbow-to-Knee Reaches: Come into a modified side-plank with your left hand and left knee down on the floor. Lift your right leg off the ground. Reach your right hand above your head so your arm and leg make a straight line. Bring your right elbow to your right knee, cinching your side obliques. Repeat on both sides!
- Reverse Plank with Alternating Knees: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your hands on the floor next to your hips with your fingertips pointing toward your toes. Lift your hips off the ground. March your knees right to left toward your chest without lowering the hips.
- Plank with Knees Across: Start in a full plank with your hands underneath your shoulders. Take your right knee in toward your left elbow. Set your foot down and take your left knee in toward your right elbow. Alternate sides but definitely don’t rush!
Can you really get abs from ab workouts?
Feel like you're doing crunches without any results? You're not alone. Many people crank away at working out their core, only to feel like they're not getting abs as an outcome.
So we consulted Life Fitness Master Trainer, Michele Sotak, who offered up 4 of her foolproof tips to combat the frustration when it comes to making your ab workouts feel more effective.
- Put your shoulders back: “Maintain good posture throughout the entire day, which gives the illusion of appearing slim,” she says.
- Focus on your muscles during workouts: Think of it as an additional workout on your abs when at the gym. “Keep muscles engaged and breathe during exercises,” advises Sotak.
- Head to bed earlier than usual: Getting sleep is important for workout recovery and to regulate energy levels. Think of it this way: you’ll be more likely to exercise the following day if you’re well-rested and less groggy than you would be if you fell asleep at a much later time the night before.
What exercise burns the most belly fat?
Curious which core exercises to swap into your routine? We've got a plethora of workouts to get you started. Scroll below to preview some of our favorites:
- Lively's Ab Workout Challenge
- You'll Feel Stronger After This Ab Slider Workout
- 5 Challenging Core Exercises Your Abs Will Thank You For Later
- Ab Workouts In Bed: The Sleepy Girl's Guide To A Stronger Core