With summer just around the corner, everyone is focusing on how they can ‘tighten’ up their tummies. Although stronger abs may look good, there are other key benefits that may motivate you even further. Here’s why achieving strong core matters, as well as ways to maximize your ab workouts.
Why You Need a Strong Core
When it comes to your core muscles, think of them as a means of connecting your upper and lower body. When your core is weak, this can impair leg and even arm function. As you build a stronger core, you essentially enhance power throughout your body. In turn, balance and stability also improve.
You probably don’t give it much thought, but within your everyday life, your core plays a role in pretty well everything you do. Whether you’re standing or sitting, you rely on your core muscles to support you. Even basic activities, such as dressing or bathing rely on your core.
With so many people suffering from lower back pain, a weak core can actually be a contributing factor. It’s believed that a large majority of cases could be prevented by promoting a stronger, more resilient core. Even posture becomes affected by weakening muscles, as a weak core often leads to slouching.
Target Your Core with These Ab Exercises
It’s clear that a strong core can benefit your life, but as an added bonus, tighter abs are also experienced. If you would like a more defined, flat stomach, it’s important to take the right approach. Understanding the most effective ab workouts can help maximize results in less time.
When it comes to a more toned stomach, the plank is one of the best possible exercises. Working all the core muscles, including the rectus abdominus — which is what is seen as ‘six-pack’ muscles, as well as the hips and back. As you advance, there’s a wide range of plank variations to try.
To complete a classic plank, start in a pushup position — bending your arms so that your weight is resting on your forearms. From your shoulders to your ankles, your body should form a straight line. Tighten your core, bracing yourself as if you were about to be hit in the stomach. Hold this position while practicing deep breathing for 30 seconds.
To enhance this exercise, get into the same starting position, but then engage your glutes. Lift one foot off the floor, flexing it as you lift. Repeat this 10-15 times and then switch legs. There are also exercises for side planks and straight-arm planks, both of which offer a range of variations.
This Pilates move promotes stronger abs without the need for any equipment. Start by sitting on the floor, preferably on a mat if you have one. Bend your knees, then lie down with your arms to your side (palms facing down). As you exhale, raise both your head and shoulders off the floor.
Lift your legs so that they’re sticking straight out (you can keep them bent if you’d like), as you vigorously pump your arms up and down. As you inhale, complete five pumps and then exhale for pumps — repeat until you have done 100 pumps.
There are plenty of ab exercises to choose from — select one that you personally like. Don’t be afraid to switch up your routine, as you may benefit different muscles. When you build a routine, performing these exercises will become more natural.