The season we’ve all been waiting for has us heading back outside! It’s the best time to soak in those rays and hit the beach. Being outside and wearing cute crops, tank tops, printed biker shorts, cute printed leggings, bikinis and more fun, flirty looks means feeling your best. If you’re looking to get washboard abs, a six pack or just a flatter, stronger core, there are plenty of ab workouts you can incorporate into your exercise routine. These are some of the most effective ab workouts, as rated by the American Council on Exercise.
Studies have shown that the bicycle crunch is the most effective exercise that engages the muscle activity in the abs.
How to do it: Start by laying on your back with your lower back pressed into the ground. Bring your knees in towards your chest, then lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Straighten your right leg and turn your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee. Do this movement then do the opposite; so straighten your left leg out and turn your upper body to the right, bringing your left elbow to the left knee. Repeat this. You can do these by sets and reps or you can do a few sets of timed bicycle crunches to get the most out of this move.
Exercise Ball Crunches
The exercise ball crunch has also ranked high in studies for being effective. This one engages less surrounding muscles, but it has a highly targeted effect on just the ab muscles. It may also be more comfortable for some people since laying on the exercise ball may be easier than laying on the ground.
How to do it: Lie on the exercise ball with your hands behind your head, feet flat on the ground. Do a simple crunch, making sure you’re engaging your core muscles as you bring yourself forward and lower yourself. Do reps and sets if you like, or time yourself. Start by doing these for intervals of 30 seconds, then try 45 seconds, then try a minute.
Forward and Side Planks
The plank is many people’s arch nemesis, but this is because it is so intense and effective. Holding a plank requires no equipment, other than maybe a mat, if you don’t have a comfortable, smooth surface to place your elbows and forearms on. This workout engages your entire body, but has a powerful effect on the abs and your core in general.
How to do it: Lie down face down on the ground. Then, prop yourself up into a forearm plank position. Make sure your elbows are aligned underneath your shoulders, and that your hands are balled up in fists. Your forearms should be parallel to one another. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds per set.
For side planks, lie on your side with your knees bent, and prop your upper body up on your elbow. Raise your hips off the floor, and hold for 6 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Switch to your other side and repeat steps 1 through 4.
There are plenty more exercises, but these 4 will give you awesome results if you stick to them. Diet is another huge part of having a flat stomach and well defined abs. Cutting out things like sugar, alcohol, and fried foods is super important. Intake of excessive calories will keep you from seeing results. Focus on eating foods high in proteins like poultry, chicken, turkey, lean meats, fish, tofu or beans. Keep plenty of vegetables and water in your diet as well.