The secret to amazing abs? Stop doing crunches and start doing these 3 flat-belly moves!
We all want a toned, flat stomach. No surprise there. But since many women are still relying on crunches to get it, we want to make one thing clear: Crunching is not the most effective abs workout. “Crunches work only the muscles on the front and sides of your abdomen, but it’s important to target all the muscles of the core to get more defined abs—including lower back, hips, and upper thighs,” says Lou Schuler, co-author of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs.
To lose belly fat and uncover amazing abs, Schuler recommends a series of core stabilization exercises based on a training program devised by co-author and personal trainer Alwyn Cosgrove. “Core exercises like the plank help train muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis so you can avoid back pain and improve posture, Schuler says. ”They also burn more calories than crunches because they work more muscles.”
Trade crunches for these three super-effective abs exercises from The New Rules of Lifting for Abs and you’ll be on your way to a perfectly toned, flatter tummy.
The Best Abs Exercises: Plank
Why it works: This abs exercise involves full-body movement, such as using the arms and legs, while incorporating resistance to strengthen your entire core.
How to do it:
A. Rest your body on your forearms with your palms flat on the floor. Double check that your shoulders are aligned directly over your elbows. Make sure that your legs are straight behind you with your ankles, knees and thighs touching.
B. In a push-up motion, raise your body off the floor, supporting your weight on your forearms and your toes. You should have a straight line from your feet to your head. Make sure that your back is flat and your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.
C. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and do not let your stomach drop or allow for your hips to rise up for 20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times. To avoid letting your hips or buttock rise up, tilt your pelvis towards the floor. Remember to breath. Take slow inhales and exhale steadily.
Make it harder: As you advance, aim to hold the plank 10 seconds longer each time until you reach 60 seconds.
More great stabilization moves: The side plank
The Best Abs Exercises: Side Plank
Why it works: This abs exercise is more challenging than a traditional plank because you’re supporting your entire body weight on two points of contact instead of four. As a result, you must work your core harder to stay stabilized.
How to do it:
A. Lie on your left side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and legs stacked. Place your right hand on your left shoulder or on your right hip.
B. Brace your abs and lift your hips off the floor until you’re balancing on your forearm and feet so that your body forms a diagonal line. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. If you can’t hold that long, stay up as long as you can and then repeat until you’ve held for 30 seconds total. Switch sides and repeat.
Make it harder: While holding your hips off the floor, try doing a leg raise with the leg that is on top and holding it in the air for a few seconds.
The Best Abs Exercises: Bridge
Why it works: To improve and strengthen the gluteus (butt), hamstrings, core, lower back, and hip.
How to do it:
A. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position, no arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles.
B. Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths.
C. Return to the start position and repeat for another 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Make it harder: When ready to advance, try keeping your hip off the floor and straight while straightening one leg at a time and holding for three deep breaths each.