Depending on where you work out you easily have 20+ choices available to you when it comes to ab workouts. And while variety is usually a good thing, it can also be quite overwhelming – especially if you’re relatively new to working out.
With this problem in mind, we’ve sorted through the countless ab workouts out there to reveal just 3 essential exercises which when used together cover your upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. To complete this 3 move workout, you’ll need a balance ball, a space on the floor, and something sturdy to use as an anchor, like your couch.
Supine knee raises to work your lower abs
If you’ve been dutifully doing your crunches, but are still unsatisfied with the way your stomach looks, it might be due to the fact that crunches can neglect the lower portion of your abs. This leads to a more toned area up near your rib cage, and less definition down near your hips.
To address this, it’s important to reverse the motion of the crunch so that the lower part of your abs does the bulk of the heavy lifting.
Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent up towards the ceiling. Lay with your head near the base of a sturdy couch, and reach back with your hands to grab hold of the lower edge. This is your anchor point, and it will help steady you.
Lift your glutes up off the floor and bring your knees up to your chest. Extend your legs slightly, keeping a gentle bend in your knees, and slowly lower your legs down in a controlled manner, until your feet hit the floor.
Full sit-ups to work your upper abs
You’ve probably read plenty of information telling you that crunches are essentially the same thing as full sit-ups. While it’s true that the basic movement of each works the upper abs, a sit-up requires a lot more effort from secondary stabilizing muscles, meaning sit-ups offer you more bang for your buck as an ab workout.
Stay near the couch, but this time flip around so that you’re able to tuck your toes under the base. This is now your anchor point. Keeping your knees bent, begin by lying with your back flat on the floor. Use your ab muscles to pull yourself up into a sitting position where your chest touches your knees, then lower back down in a controlled fashion.
You have a few choices on how to use your arms for this exercise. If you feel like your neck needs a little more support, lace your fingers together at the nape of your neck to form a cradle. If you feel like you need a little more ‘oomph’ to get up off the floor, try extending your arms straight out and reaching forward beyond your toes at the top of each sit up.
Leg scissors with balance ball to work your obliques
Obliques are also sometimes referred to as ‘side abs’. These are the secondary, stabilizing muscles that run from the bottom of your rib cage to the top of your hips, and they are without a doubt the most overlooked aspect of any ab workout. Let’s fix that.
Lie flat on your back, and use your legs to gently grip a balance ball between your ankles and knees. Keeping your legs straight, turn slightly and raise your right hip up while tipping your left hip down. This will also cause your right leg to go higher in the air, and your left leg to come down slightly. Reverse the movement by bringing your left hip up and right hip down, thereby completing the ‘scissor’ motion.
A few last tips
Eat right – The best way to get visible abs is to reduce body fat. A healthy diet with a small calorie deficit is the best way to achieve this. In addition, a good cutting supplement such as CLA can help to speed up fat loss.
De-stress – Stress impedes weight loss, but more to the point, stress puts fat around your midsection. Reduce stress in your life whenever possible for better results.
Work your back – It’s always important to work opposing muscle groups to avoid injury, and to balance out muscle strength. The opposing muscle group for your abs is your lower back. Don’t forget to work this muscle group every time you work your abs.