Definitive Ab Workout Guide!
The stomach area is an area that the majority of people would like to reduce or tone up! What are the best exercises to tone up your belly? This is a question that I get asked A LOT!!! Or “are crunches good for making your stomach flatter?” In my opinion, there are much better core exercises than crunches. The neck, shoulders or legs end up doing the work in a crunch in a lot of people. Furthermore, the better posture you have, the more likely you are to have a tight waist (and active core). So ideally, you want exercises that strengthen the core and movements that encourage good posture so that your core muscles function better in daily life.
My Favourite 3 Exercises!
Exercise 1: Swissball/Foam Roller Dead Bug
Lie on a mat or the carpet with your swissball/foam roller near by. Bring your knees up so that they arrive just over your hips, there should still be a small gap in between your back and the floor. Place your foam roller or swissball so that it touches both knees and place your hands on the other side. Keep the swissball/foam roller exactly where it is and slowly take one leg away and then the other side. If that feels easy then you can add in the opposite arm but remember that you are aiming for high reps so make smart choices 😉
Beginner: 2 x 8/8 (8 each side)
Intermediate: 3 x 10/10
Advanced: 3 x 15/15
Place your feet 2 x your shoulder width apart with your toes facing outwards. Reduce the arch in your lower back and keep your pelvis in neutral position as you drop your bottom straight down, pushing your knees wide! As you come back up to standing, squeeze your bottom and keep your stomach engaged throughout…it won’t be long till those inner thighs are burning.
Beginner: Sets of 10
Intermediate: Sets of 15
Advanced: Sets of 20
Exercise 2: Foam Roller/Swissball Roll Out
This exercise is an all-time favourite! Not only does it tone up your stomach but also your upper back and shoulders too…you are welcome! The only thing about this exercise is that it is easy to get wrong. It helps to keep in your mind the area that you want to work and try keep the tailbone tucked under throughout.
Use a mat thick enough to support your kneecaps, interlace your fingers and place your hands on the foam roller/swissball. Keep your elbows underneath your shoulders and allow your hips to come towards the ground whilst maintaining the tuck. Keep your abdominals short (not allowing arch in the back). If it feels ok then you can try extending arms away from the body at the lowest point. Then reverse the movement! Go slow! If it feels totally weird then it is likely that you are starting too close to the swissball/foam roller so inch your knees back and try again J once you get it, it is SO good and totally worth the effort setting it up correctly.
Beginner: 2 x 8
Intermediate: 2 x 15
Advanced: 3 x 20
Exercise 3: Side Plank Raises
Hello obliques! These are the lines that you get around the side and lower abdomen with low levels of body fat. They are great for tightening the waist and help with any muffin top situation, Also, easy to do anywhere as require zero equipment although a good soundtrack makes them more digestible!
Lie on your side, placing your elbow under your shoulder and your forearm parallel to the front of your mat (palm facing down). Bend the knees a little and then using the other hand press into the floor and straighten the legs whilst lifting the hips up. Try to keep your hip bones facing the side, squeeze your bottom and lift the chest. Feel free to relax the head keeping it in a neutral position or look down if that feels better.
Beginner: 2 x 6/6
Intermediate: 2 x 10/10
Advanced: 3 x 12/12
To make this into a full body circuit, you can add burpees, mountain climbers and press ups in between the above exercises. Do 2 or 3 rounds before having a nice big stretch off and cool down. Core exercises will work into your shoulders, back and groin but you shouldn’t feel strain in any of those areas. Try adjusting your posture or technique if you start to feel any sensation other than muscles being worked! If it persists, rests and try again another day.
How Often Do I Need To Train?
I recommend training 2 or 3 times per week on top of living an active lifestyle. An “active lifestyle” means active hobbies like walking and cycling, playing sport with friends, jogging or doing to a yoga class when you can.
Does Diet Actually Make a Difference?
Most definitely! You cannot out-train a bad diet! I tend to live by a preach the 80/20 rule – eat good and make smart choices 80% of the time and then you can allow yourself a couple of treat meals and snacks every week. If you are too strict and deprive yourself then one day you will end up just bathing in melted chocolate!
TOP TIP: Film yourself doing the exercises using your phone. This way you can see if you need to change anything!
Let Us Help!
If you would like any help or support getting started or staying motivated with Yoga or Fitness then let us know. We help people all over Warwickshire get motivated and STAY motivated. Working out consistently over time is the only thing that works so it is important that you enjoy what you do and have fun on your fitness journey!
Have a wonderful week,
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” I train with Victoria regularly and because she knows my strengths and weaknesses, I felt that she was able to focus on the parts of my body that needed it most. I am now 1 stone lighter, 20 times stronger and 100 times happier after 12 months with Free Spirit Fitness! “