“Abs are made in the kitchen,” hollers the fitness industry. Well, yes, what you eat goes to your tum, both in the short and long term, but abs are a complex set of muscles. And, even if you haven’t managed to nix that Nutella habit, you can still create the appearance of a flatter looking stomach with a little exercise know-how.
So let’s talk muscles. Your abs consist of three main muscles, or muscle groups. First up is your rectus abdominis, your six-pack muscle, that assists the spine as you bend forward. Then there’s your internal and external obliques – your waist muscles that help the torso to bend and twist, and then we have, what some might consider the Godfather of Abs, your transverse abdominis muscle, your ‘main’ core muscle, that helps to stabilise the pelvis and lower back, also helping to create a flattening effect around your abdomen (yes, the ‘f’ word… you read that right).
So, a terrific set of abs requires a multi-muscle approach. Which is why those hundred basic (frankly, unsophisticated) sit-ups you’ve been bashing out probably haven’t been cutting it.
No, you need to work on deeper core abdominals, too. And those waist muscles.
Fitness expert Laura Williams – a personal trainer, qualified in Advanced Anatomy and Physiology and Pilates matwork – is here to show you a five-day routine that will blitz the lot. You in?
Exercise 1: Shin Reach
Lie on your back with your head and shoulders off the floor, legs raised in a ‘V’ shape. With right arm bent, hand supporting head, reach your left hand across to your right shin. Return to start position and repeat a total of 12 times. Rest briefly and switch sides.
Exercise 2: Plank Jack
Lie face down with your weight distributed on the balls of your feet and forearms. Keeping your back and bum raised, jump feet apart and then back together. Repeat for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.
Exercise 1: Crunch ‘n’ Kick
Lie on your back, head and shoulders off the floor, elbows to the side, and legs hovering a few inches off the floor. With your back pushed into the mat, bend one leg into your chest as you extend the other leg right out in front of you, with a bit of a ‘stamp’ keeping your toes flexed. Do 30 alternating kicks.
Exercise 2: Trainer Reach
Lie on your back, right arm folded behind head, legs crossed just above the ankle and positioned a little beneath a 90-degree angle at the hip. Keeping your head and shoulders off the floor, pulse left fingertips forwards and backwards towards your right shin for a count of 20. Briefly rest then switch sides.
Exercise 1: Plank leg raise
Lie face down with your weight distributed between your forearms and balls of feet. Brace your abdominal muscles by drawing your stomach back towards your spine (without holding your breath). Lift one leg off the floor to hip height, lower and switch sides. Do a total of 16 leg lifts, stopping sooner if you feel your back start to arch. Gradually increase to 20, then 30 lifts.
Exercise 2: Cross-legged crunch
Lie on your back with your head and shoulders raised, arms supporting your head without pulling on it. Your legs are 45-degrees off the floor, right leg crossed above left knee. Lift your left leg at the same time as you lift your head. Then lower both leg and head partially and repeat. Do 15 on each side.
Exercise 1: Arm extension plank
Lie face down in a push-up position. Extend your left arm out to the side while keeping your torso as still as possible. Switch sides. Repeat this for 30 seconds, rest and repeat.
Exercise 2: Pulse and hold crunch
Lie on your back with head and shoulders raised, legs extended in the air. Lift your head and pulse chest towards your legs for a count of two, then slowly lower your legs and hover them a few inches off the floor for several seconds. Do 12 crunches total. The objective of the exercise is to lower your legs as far as you can, without your back arching – not necessarily to reach the floor.
Exercise 1: Seated twist
Sit on a mat with your legs bent in front of you, edge your torso back towards the floor and extend your left leg out in front of you, hovering it a few inches off the floor, right leg bent. Twist your torso to the right, aiming your left elbow towards the inside of your right knee. Change sides and repeat. Do 30 reps in total.
Exercise 2: Side plank and stretch
Lie on your left side with your weight distributed between your left forearm and left foot. Raise your body into the air extending your right (top) arm overhead as you do so. Hold for a couple of seconds, lower and repeat. Do six planks on each side.
- Press Association