When most people think of abs workouts, they picture a sculpted, rock-hard 6-pack. However, strength and health should also be part of any fitness goal. By combining different types of exercises, you can target your abs and begin to work toward the 6-pack you’ve been dreaming of.
The core of your body is made up of sets of muscles that include the rectums adominus, a large muscle running from the rib cage to the pelvis; and the oblique muscles, which are located to either side. Many people think of traditional crunches as the best way to tone abs, but these only target one part of your core.
Bicycle crunches are more effective in that they work more than one group of muscles at the same time. Try this exercise out by lying on your back and placing your hands behind your head. Bring your knees to a 90-degree angle. Without pulling on your neck, twist your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow to your left knee. At the same time, extend your right leg above the ground. Return to the center and repeat on the other side, going at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
Plank poses put the body in a different position than crunches and are often more challenging as well. These include exercises such as the side plank that require you to support your entire body using only two points of contact with the floor. This exercise is simple to perform, and yet challenging enough for people of all fitness levels. Start by lying on one side with your elbow positioned directly under your shoulder.
Place your other hand on your hip and pull your abs in as you lift your bottom hip off the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds before lowering back down. After you’ve finished a set on one side, switch sides and repeat. If you find that you can’t hold yourself up, you can modify the position by placing your hand on the floor in front of you instead of on your hip. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to hold the pose longer without extra support. Plank poses are recommended as they challenge the abs muscles. Together with cardio, these moves help to strengthen and slim down your core, leading to a more slender middle and a healthier body overall.
Cardio Target Toning:
Cardio Target toning alone isn’t enough to reveal a tight 6-pack. It’s important to incorporate some cardio into your workouts to shed fat so that the muscles will show through. Cardio also improves stamina, meaning that you’ll be able to get through more difficult workouts as time goes on. Both high-intensity intervals and endurance training at a slower pace burn calories and help reduce overall body fat. Jumping jacks, mountain climbers and high knees can all be done indoors in all kinds of weather. For longer, less intense cardio, try running, swimming or biking. Although a variety of exercises are necessary to strengthen and tone the core, a study sponsored by American Council on Exercise rated the bicycle crunch as the top exercise for targeting both the rectus abdomens and the oblique’s.