These 4 ab workouts will work each ab muscle for a defined and flat stomach!
Abs abs abs. Okay, so we see them in a lot of fitness programs, and now you are incorporating ab workouts into your routine but still not seeing any results. At this point, you are probably wondering… why?
Well I want to first start off by saying that getting those nice, 6 pack abs are a combination of exercise AND nutrition (but I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times).
Getting a flat stomach and losing belly fat is tough for most people because of the nutrition aspect.
But this post is going to focus solely on the exercise side of it!
The 3 Different Ab Muscles
When training your ab muscles, it is important to know that there are different muscle groups that you should be targeting if you want to get defined abs.
The 3 muscles include the following:
The rectus abdominis is the muscle you think of when someone says “abs.” These are the muscles that are on the anterior (front) side of your stomach.
Their main function is flexion of the spinal column, however, they aid in other kinds of movements such as couching!
Strengthening this muscle is very important since it aids in all other workout movements.
Let’s take a jump squat for example.
If you did not have a strong rectus abdominis, it would be hard to jump up and down in a straight plane.
You would be more inclined to fall over or not jump as high, losing balance and control.
But if you have a strong rectus abdominis, you will be able to control the jump squat.
Not only will you be able to jump higher, but you would be able to land properly and engage the correct muscles used during the jump squat!
The external obliques are the muscles that run diagonally down and inward from the lower ribs to the pelvis and create that “V”.
They help to flex the spinal column as well as trunk rotation from side to side.
Since these muscles are vital for trunk movement and function, damage or injury done to them can be painful and detrimental. This is why it is important to strengthen this muscle with some ab exercises.
The internal obliques are just beneath the external obliques and run horizontally from your lower ribs to the center of the rectus abdominis.
Like external obliques, they assist in flexing the spinal column as well as trunk rotation from side to side.
Because of these different muscle groups, doing an enormous amount of reps of crunches, sit-ups and planks are not going to get you the abs you have always wanted.
Those only target the rectus abdominis muscles and not the obliques.
Best Core Exercises
Alright, now we are onto the fun stuff: the ab workouts!
These exercises require no equipment and can be done at home or at the gym!
However, if you want a more intense ab workout routine, you can do the exercises with bands or with weights for extra resistance and challenge.
Try doing each ab workout for 15 reps and a total of 3 sets!
Plank Bird Dog
Okay, the first ab workout we have is the plank bird dog.
Regular bird dog poses are very popular in yoga because of how challenging they are for all of your ab muscles.
They are also REALLY great for strengthening your lower back!
But this ab workout will be a more challenging form of bird dog since we will be in plank instead (but don’t worry, you can do regular bird dog if you don’t feel ready for the plank yet)!
Start in a high plank position with the palms of your hands and feet on the floor.
Then lift the opposite arm and leg at the same time and try to hold it for about 2-3 seconds before coming down.
To make this ab workout as effective as possible, do NOT go fast and speed through the moves. Take your time and control the movement of your arms and legs.
Side Plank Dips
This is once of my FAVORITE ab workouts for the obliques! It is a great exercise for beginners as well.
Start in a side plank.
To do this, rotate on one side and place your elbow on the floor directly underneath the shoulder. The other hand should either be held straight up to the side or placed on your hips for more support.
Keep the legs long and stack your feet as you lift your hips off the floor.
To do the ab workout, dip your hip to the floor, without touching it, using those internal and external oblique muscles.
These are not easy to do so make sure to take your time and focus on engaging the oblique muscles rather than any other part of your body.
If your hand is placed on your hip, try to not rely on the hand to push your hip down or pull it up.
Now, if you have done this exercise before and are comfortable with the workout, you can add a weight for more resistance.
Simply hold a dumbbell up to the sky with your hand!
Make sure to do the other side as well!
Single Leg Bicycle Crunches
Now, of course, we have to add in the exercises to engage the lower abs!
I’m not going to lie, these ab workouts are INTENSE. But you will be left feeling so STRONG after!
Start by positioning your body to be in an “L” shape by laying flat on your back and raising your legs to be 90-degrees from the floor (perpendicular).
Place your hands lightly behind your ears.
Drop one leg to the floor while keeping the other one straight and bringing the same side elbow to the leg that is still up straight.
These are great for your lower abs so make sure to go SLOW on these because these are challenging!
Okay, I had NO IDEA how hard these would be until I tried doing them lol!
The motion is the same as a regular V-up, however, these are going to be sitting on your side to target the oblique muscles.
Start by sitting on your side glute. Place one elbow on the floor and lift the other hand to the sky.
To do the V-up, lift both legs up to meet the hand in the middle for the crunch.
Now, these are pretty hard without weights, but if you feel like these are easy for you, you can always add a dumbbell in the hand to the sky!
Make sure you do this exercise on BOTH sides!
Final Thoughts on Ab Workouts
This beginner ab workout plan will have your core on FIRE (in a good way lol).
If you work hard at strengthening your abs and know which muscles to target, as well as eating right, you will reach your fitness goal!
If you would like to see some more workouts, check out the articles below!