People often associate core strength with a flat belly or six-pack abs. While these certainly are signs of good health and can be motivating aspirations, there are numerous health benefits of increasing your core strength, including:
- Improved posture
- Injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Better balance and stability
- Reduced back pain
- Easier breathing
- Better athletic performance
- Improved efficiency and safety at work
- Safer and easier every day movement
The best ab exercises and ab workouts target your entire core in order to activate as many muscles as possible in integrated, coordinated movements. Ab workouts for men and ab workouts for women look the same at beginner and intermediate levels. The only things that should affect your workout are your current ability, your reason for working out, and your desired outcome. Regardless of your reasoning, here are 3 of the best ab exercises you can do anywhere:
Planking is one of the simplest and most effective ways to activate your deep, stabilising core muscles. It also has the benefit of working the entire front of your body including shoulders, chest, and quadriceps.
In order to perform a basic plank, assume a modified push-up position with your forearms resting on the floor. Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle and positioned directly under your shoulders. Your feet are together with only your toes making contact with the ground. Look at the floor and form a perfectly straight line from the crown of your head to your heels, engaging your core.
To perform a plank with hip dip, start in basic plank position. Squeeze your butt and tighten your abs. Slowly dip your right hip to the right until it’s about one inch off the floor. Return to center, then dip to the left and return to center. That’s one rep. Try to do a set of 15 reps.
Lying Leg Raise
This move is great for your lower abs and for increasing flexibility in your hip flexors. These are used in every step you take and every time you squat.
Lie on your back on a mat on the floor. Put your hands under your lower back and glutes to support your pelvis. Raise your legs towards the ceiling while keeping your legs straight and pressing your thighs together. Lift until your hips are fully flexed and you can’t go any higher while your legs are straightened. Then lower back down. This is one rep. Try 3 sets of 15 reps. Be sure to move slowly and in control, and to not arch your back at any point during the motion.
You can make it a bit more difficult by not lowering your legs fully to the ground in between reps. You can also add ankle weights or put a dumbbell between your feet.
The Russian twist targets every muscle in your core, as well as strengthening and stabilising your spine. It’s a great exercise if you’re tight on time and are looking to squeeze in a quick and effective workout.
Sit on the floor and extend your legs straight. Lean back slightly to form a V-shape with your torso and legs. Engage your core by bracing your abdominal wall. Find your balance, then twist from side to side without moving your legs. Move slowly and remember to breathe! Aim for two sets of 10 reps to start.
Adding some weight, using a medicine or dumbbell will increase the difficulty of this exercise. However, if you feel your hip flexors straining, don’t use the weight.
Hoys Allied Health + Wellness offers a number of core and mat classes for all levels from beginners to experts. Our expert instructors and wonderful community of clients will help you strengthen your core, increase your flexibility, and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to find out more!