SZA's Abs Are the Star of the "Hit Different" Video — Try These 9 Exercises For a Stronger Core
Like most, I've been waiting to be serenaded by SZA's voice on a new track for a long time, and the day has finally come. After three years, SZA released her latest single "Hit Different," and I've had it on repeat nonstop. Then, I watched the music video (if you haven't seen it yet, please go watch), and was even more love with it.
I have no idea what goes into directing videos and coming up with treatments, but shoutout to SZA for all the ab shots we got. Her abs look so good, I'm here writing about them. Ahead, I've rounded up a list of strengthening exercises inspired by SZA's abs that will improve your core strength, which is important for everyday movements like twisting and bending and even improves your posture; can help you improve your athletic performance; and can even help you perform the choreography from the video better!
It goes without saying but doing these moves once or twice won't suddenly leave you with a six-pack or abs that look like SZA's, and that's OK! The point is to provide you with ab-strengthening exercises you can do whenever you want. I recommend choosing four to six moves you really like and making a quick workout with them or incorporating a few into your preexisting workouts. And if you're really loving SZA's new single and these exercises, perform them to "Hit Different."
- Begin lying on a yoga mat in a supine (facing up) position.
- Bend your elbows, moving them directly underneath your shoulders; avoid angling your elbows out to the sides.
- With control, brace you abs (you should still be able to breathe normally), squeeze your glutes, and lift your body up off the mat. Be sure to keep your head and neck in a neutral position by looking up at the ceiling. Don't let your hips drop down to the ground at any point.
- Start in a quadruped position with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips. Your core should be engaged and your spine should be in a neutral position.
- With control, lift your knees one inch off the ground. Be sure to keep your back flat and your abs engaged.
- If you're more advanced, begin to "crawl" forward by moving the right arm and left leg at the same time. Then move your left arm and right leg at the same time. Continue this movement going forward and backward.
In and Out Plank
- Start lying on the ground with your forearms (wrists to elbows) firmly on the mat, ensuring your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Extend both legs behind you and elevate your hips off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet, with your feet together. Gently draw your ribs in to engage your core and ensure that your spine remains in a neutral position. This is your starting position.
- While keeping your hips as still as possible, step your left foot outward slightly, followed by your right foot so your hips are hip-width apart.
- Maintaining no movement from your hips, step your left foot inward slightly, followed by your right foot, to return to the starting position.
Straight-Leg Pilates Hundreds
- Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring your hips and knees are together. Gently press your spine into the mat, and bring your legs into tabletop position. Make sure your knees are stacked over your hips, your toes are pointed, and your shins are parallel to (in line) the floor. Rest your hands gently on your knees. This is your starting position.
- On an exhale, tuck your chin into your chest and draw your ribs to your hips to elevate your head, shoulders, and upper back off the mat. Be sure to keep your back flat on the mat. At the same time, extend your knees to create a 90-degree angle at your hips and extend your arms by your sides with your palms facing down, ensuring your arms are parallel to (in line with) the floor.
- Inhale, and elevate your arms slightly, then lower your arms slightly. This is called a pulse. Perform five pulses.
- Exhale, and pulse your arms five times.
- Lower your head and shoulders, bend your knees, and place your hands on your knees to return to the starting position.
Plank With a Shoulder Tap
- Begin with both hands firmly planted on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width distance apart. Your legs should be extended behind you and you should be resting on the balls of your feet.
- Lift your right hand up off of the ground to touch your left shoulder, ensuring that you brace your abdominals to keep your hips parallel to the floor. Lower your right hand back to the ground to return to the starting position.
- Repeat the same movement, this time lifting your left hand up and off the ground and touching your right shoulder. Lower your left hand to the ground and return to the starting position.
- Be sure to keep your hips square to the floor (your hip bones should always be pointing down toward the ground) at all times.
- Continue to alternate between the right and left sides.
- Lie on your back on the floor, raising your arms and legs to a 90-degree angle. Lift your head and shoulder blades off the floor as you reach your fingers toward your toes.
- Pull your abs to your spine as you lift your pelvis an inch off the ground, bringing your toes toward your fingers. This is a small, concentrated movement. Then lower your pelvis to complete the rep.
Side Plank Leg Lift
- Place your right elbow on the ground. Extend both legs out so that your body is in one straight line and you're balancing on the outside edge of your right foot.
- Flex both feet if you can, and either rest your top hand on your upper hip or extend it in the air. Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged, lift your left leg up just higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back to your bottom leg.
Seated Knee Tuck
- Start seated on the ground or on a weight bench. Place your hands about an inch behind your back with your fingers facing forward. Your feet should be on the ground.
- Lift both feet up off of the ground and extend both legs as you simultaneously lower your upper body. Be sure to get full extension at your hips and legs.
- With control, bring your legs back to your chest without touching the ground with your feet and return to the starting position.
- This counts as one rep.
Plank With Knee Tap
- Start resting on all fours.
- With your palms flat, raise up off your knees onto your toes. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders.
- Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.
- With your head and spine in line, keep your back flat — don't let it curve. Picture your body as a long, straight board.
- With control, slowly tap your left knee to the ground without moving your hips. Lift your left knee back up, returning to the starting position. Repeat the same movement with the right leg. This completes one rep.