Admit it: You can’t resist the temptation of standing in front of a mirror, pinching and poking the pudge surrounding your midsection.
For whatever reason, we naturally obsess over our stomachs, relentlessly coaxing our abs out from their bashful hiding place.
But here’s the (not-so) secret to a rockin’ 6-pack: It’ll take a unique concoction of exercise and nutrition. Now, don’t let those ingredients deter you. You can manipulate your body with the right workout series and dedication.
We have six workouts and practical nutrition advice to get you a strong, solid core and loving what you see in the mirror.
First Things First
Okay, this really isn’t a workout, per se, but it’s just as vital, if not more so, as what you put into the gym.
My dad used to tell me, “Proper preparation prevents poor performance!”
I hate to admit it, but the guy kind of knew what he was talking about.
Meal prep is everything. It’ll make or break you throughout the week. It can support what you’re doing in the gym, or it can negate what you’re doing in the gym — and you want to make progress, not stall out.
Dedicate just an hour at the beginning of your week to plan out your dinners and prepare your lunches. Believe me, if you have a healthy lunch and snacks on hand it’ll be much easier to bypass the tempting treats in the office!
If you’re not sure where to start, check out sites like Bodybuilding.com or Pinterest for easy, healthy recipes. You’ll want to grab some glass or plastic storage containers from the store and an insulated lunchbox.
Keep the recipes simple and as clean as possible. Remember that your food is your fuel.
You could spend an hour-long gym session working on abs, but that really doesn’t make sense. Would you spend that much time on just grip strength, or triceps, or calves? Nope.
In this workout, we keep it short and sweet, but believe me, you’ll have to muscle through this one! These exercises require that the whole core work as one unit to provide stability.
Always engage your core (focusing on your front abs, your obliques and your lower back muscles) and remember to breathe through the exertion of the exercise.
*What’s failure? It means “do as many reps as possible without sacrificing your form.”
Side Note: The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport published a study on the effectiveness of specific exercises (hip abduction in plank vs. hamstring curl vs. chest press vs. 45° row) in relation to core muscles.
Guess which ranked the highest. You got it: the Hip Abduction Plank.
You may hate me for it now, but you’ll love me for it later.
Remember to engage your whole core throughout this workout. It might help to visualize your ab muscles acting as a corset wrapping around your body. Really focus on simultaneously contracting your abdominal corset while exhaling through the individual reps.
Tell me you’re eating clean this week. You didn’t just push through the first two workouts for nothing, right? Keep it clean and don’t negate the hard work you’re putting in!
*The padded AB Crunch Attachment is a cost-effective accessory to include in your gym. It makes this and other variations of cable crunches much easier to perform with proper form.
The planks make a comeback, but this time we’re focusing on the traditional basic plank. When you start to shake and tremble, focus your eyes on one spot in front of you and breathe through it.
While executing the cross-body crunches (or bike crunches), be sure to go in slow motion. This makes the exercise a little more difficult, but it’ll really engage those muscles!
*This particular exercise works your entire core and lower back, but be sure not allow your lower back to dip as you roll out from your knees.
Some quick tips for this workout: During the weighted crunches, pretend that you have an orange tucked under your chin. This will prevent you from dipping your chin to your chest which allows you to utilize your abs instead of your neck muscles. Keep your gaze focused at a 45 degree angle in front of you.
You’ve made it this far. You can finish strong with this final workout!
These workouts are a great way to shake up your routine, but remember that a great 6-pack requires variation in exercise and great, consistent nutrition.
Plug these workouts into your weekly routine, eat right, and you’ll soon be standing in front of that mirror admiring your core, not pinching and poking at it!
Want to do these ab exercises from the comfort of your own home? Check out our extensive collection of in-home gym equipment here.
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