Who doesn’t want a six pack? It’s everybody’s dream to have nice, toned abs and a flat belly but usually this is the hardest part of the body to tone. If you want to form your abs there are 4 major muscle groups you need to work on, and only by targeting all four groups can you achieve that elusive six pack.
Joan Pagano, a NYC trainer and author of the book Strength Training for Women explains that in order to have best results you need to work on all the abdomen muscles.
Before we go into the exercises we recommend today let’s look at our abdomen muscles and get to know them better.
The side abdomen is composed of external abdominal obliques and internal abdominal obliques. Just under your arms, on top are the external obliques, while the internal obliques are underneath. They are the deeper muscles which have a stabilizing role and helps you keep your posture.
The deepest muscles are the transversus abdominis, the muscles that run horizontally across your midsection. According to Pagano, the transversus abdominis is the main muscle that stabilizes your pelvis and is in charge of tucking in your belly. And finally we’ve got the rectus abdominis, the most superficial muscle in our abdomen and which is responsible for the six-pack abs, when toned. This muscle group goes from the pelvis to the sternum and allows your spine flex while you walk.
If you want to tone the whole abdominal muscle area you need to perform a few exercises which target each muscle group directly. Below you can find the best ab exercises recommended by Caroline Gogolak, Carbon38 co-founder, which will help you achieve your goal faster!
- Roll Back
Targets the rectus abdominis
You need to sit up straight and bend your knees at 90 a degree angle with your feel flat on the ground. Lean with your torso forwards to your thighs, and extend your arms forwards at shoulder level, pointing your palms down. Draw your navel to your spine and exhale, roll back onto your tailbone and curve the spine in a C form. Inhale and return to starting position.
- Twisting Roll Back
Targets the rectus abdominis and both obliques
Extend your arms forward and do a roll-back, your spine curved into a C. Twist your torso to the side, bend one of the elbows and pull it back to your shoulder level. With your other arm reach to the opposite knee. Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite side.
- Sit-Ups with a Medicine Ball
Targets the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, both obliques
Grab a medicine ball and hold it over your head. Recline backwards, to the ground. Lift up from the core back to reach a sitting position, while keeping the medicine ball over your head. If you want a more challenging exercise buy a slant (about 50 bucks) and perform the exercise with your feet hooked under the board.
- Kneeling Crunch
Targets both obliques and the rectus abdominis
Kneel down on the ground and stabilize on arm just under the shoulder. Extend your other arm forward at shoulder height and your opposite leg back at hip level. Contract your abs and exhale. Return to starting position and repeat with the other side.
- Dead Bug
Targets the transversus abdominis and both obliques
Lie down on your back and raise your legs, bend your knees over your hips and keep your calves parallel to the ground. Stretch your arms to the ceiling, your palms facing forwards, pull your abs tights and bring your navel to the spine. Lower your opposite leg and arm down to the floor while you exhale and bring your other knee towards your chest. Don’t arch and keep your lower back on the floor at all times.
- Lunge Split Jacks
Targets the rectus abdominis
Stand up on the ground and position your feet 2-3 feet apart, left foot in front of your right foot. Now lower your body down in a split squat. Jump up in the air and kick legs scissor style, make sure you land with your right leg forward. Once your feet hit the floor lower your body again in a split squat.
- Toe Dip
Targets the transversus abdominis
Sit down on the floor and bend both knees in front of you. Keep your feet flat on the ground and lean backwards, resting on your elbows. Tighten the abs and slide your hands right under your lower back, palms faced down, for support. Lift your legs up, keeping your calves parallel to the floor and your knees bent over the hips. Inhale and dip the toes to the mat, keep the right angle at the knee. Exhale and repeat.
- Bicycle Crunches
Targets both obliques and the transversus abdominis
Lie down on the ground flat, press your lower back on the floor. Pull your abs downwards so that you can target all the deep ab muscles. Place your hands behind your head and intertwine the fingers. Bring your knees to the chest and lift your shoulder blades from the ground. Straighten the right leg outwards to a 45-degree angle and turn your body to the left, touching your left knee with your right leg (or try to touch). Move your rib alongside your elbows. Repeat with the other side. A pedaling action is required so perform this exercise slowly and accordingly.
- The “Jean-Zip”
Targets the transversus adbominis
This exercise can be performed anywhere and anytime during the day. Pretend as if you’re trying to zip up a tight pain of jeans, pull your navel to the spine and scoop abs, then up lift the pelvic floor. This exercise targets the deeper ab muscles and flattens the belly.