This Strength Routine Sculpts Every Muscle in Your Core, So You Can Finally Have THOSE Abs
Even once you've burned off any fat in your midsection, you may not have the definition you've always craved. It's an unavoidable truth that, while getting your heart rate up is essential to losing fat, it doesn't necessarily equate a six-pack. If you want to tone your tummy, you'll need to do strength exercises that target every group of muscles in the abdomen, cinching your waist better than cardio or crunches ever could. To start, try this five-move workout from Kendall Wood, MS, CSCS, coauthor of Core Fitness Solution.
Equipment needed: resistance band
Directions: Warm up with five minutes of light cardio and 10 side bends and woodchops on each side (don't use weights). Complete one round of the workout below, resting for 30 to 45 seconds between each set. Perform the same cardio, side bends, and woodchops as a cooldown.
- Seated Russian twist: four sets of 12 reps
- V-sits: four sets of 12 reps
- Bicycle crunches: four sets of 12 reps
- Resistance band flutter kicks: four sets of 12 reps
- Double crunch: four sets of 12 reps
Seated Russian Twist
If you want to see that toned tummy you've been working for, you need to get down to the basics and hit your abs and core muscles. According to Kendall, "the seated Russian twist is a great all-around core move that you can do anywhere."
- Lie on the ground with your spine flat on the floor and your knees bent.
- Using the power of your abs, pull your upper body forward so you're sitting at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Keep your back straight throughout this movement.
- Bring your hands together in front of your abs and twist your torso to the right. Pause for a one-count, return to the start, and twist to the left. Pause for another one-count before returning to the start again. That's one rep.
This challenging exercise harnesses all your core strength to retain stability throughout the movement. "Don't let your inability to do too many reps prevent you from including this move in your workout," Kendall said. "Keep doing the v-sit and build up your strength and tone your stomach while you build your ability to do more over time."
- Lie flat on the floor with your legs together and your arms at your sides.
- Raise your shoulders a few inches off the ground, and lift your legs so they're at roughly a 45-degree angle with the floor. Bring your arms upward as though you're reaching for your legs. Do not lean your neck forward or bend your knees.
- Using the power of your abs, bend your knees and pull them toward your torso. Use your arms to guide your torso forward. Your body should make a V at the top of the rep with your weight balanced on your glutes.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Get ready to really feel your obliques. "Bicycle crunches are a great movement to keep building stability in your core, while also ensuring your obliques are worked just as hard as all the other abdominals," Kendall told POPSUGAR.
- Lie flat on the floor with your fingers laced behind your head.
- Slowly raise your shoulders and neck off the ground (without pulling with your hands); lift your legs so they're a few inches off the floor.
- Crunch forward and to the left, at the same time bringing your left knee up until it meets your right elbow just above your lower abdominals.
- Slowly return your arm and leg, then perform this same movement on the other side so your left arm meets your right knee. That's one rep.
Resistance Band Flutter Kicks
Grab a resistance band, because this simple movement is one of the most important things you can do to sculpt your abs. "Flutter kicks force you to target your lower abs while crunching forward just enough to also hit your upper abs — but be sure to keep your entire core braced throughout the set," Kendall said.
- Lie flat on the floor with both feet looped into a resistance band, as shown. Raise your legs off the ground to ensure that your feet are firmly in the loops.
- Straighten your legs so your heels are a few inches off the ground.
- Slowly kick one leg up a few inches higher than the other, alternating your feet while retaining tension in the bands with your hands. Count the rep once both feet have kicked up and returned to starting position.
- Do not lean forward to perform this movement, and keep any bend in your knee to an absolute minimum.
This move makes a traditional crunch twice as hard, but it's definitely worth the effort. "The double crunch is another move that will hit your entire core, but it is easy to forget form, so be sure to move slowly through each rep to see optimum results," Kendall said.
- Lie flat on the floor with your arms at your sides and your legs stretched out in a straight line.
- With your core engaged, crunch your torso forward so your shoulders are just off the floor. At the same time, lift your legs toward the ceiling and reach your arms upward, as though you're trying to touch your toes.
- Your arms and legs should look like two parallel lines, with your butt and shoulders just slightly off the ground.
- Return to the starting position without letting your arms or legs rest on the floor. That's one rep.