Dominating your abdominal musculature is almost definitely on your bucket list. This blueprint is your guarantee for attaining your optimal physique, getting healthier and securing your fitness legacy. Here you is guide to home ab workouts.
You’re doing crunches, crunches and more crunches.
That’s the way to get abs, right?
The real secret to home ab workouts is what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. However, there are a few ways to speed up that yearlong journey to abs in time for summer. In addition, crunches aren’t the secret or the be-all end-all of abs exercises – basic crunches are just the beginning, and for most people, they don’t even belong in the abs workout or any home workout plan for that matter.
So we’ve already told you that the best way to get abs is to change up your diet – more on that later. Ask any trainer, beyond diet, what they do to get their abs. Most of them won’t mention crunches or any form of basic sit-up.
They’ll undoubtedly say things like planks, hanging leg raises and pull ups.
You shouldn’t be. These things, although they seem way too hard for the average bear (spoiler alert: They’re not, and if they are, there are modifications you can make), are the best abs-carvers there are out there. Do 10 slow pull-ups while squeezing your glutes and trying not to swing then tell us your abs aren’t burning.
This is the type of diet you want to use when trying to carve out your abs while not looking flat. That’s often a result of total carb depletion (not eating any carbs, ever). You’ll be lean as anything, but no muscles will pop like the fitness models you see in magazines.
Carb cycling, in short, is eating carbs on your lift days and not eating them on days you don’t lift. However, in order to drop body fat, you need to be in some sort of carb depletion, so we need to pick a number of carbs to eat each day you lift.
Conventional wisdom from studying nutrition in college tells the average strength coach that eating about 30% less than what you need to maintain, specific to carbs only, will result in carb depletion and force your body into a slight state of ketosis – meaning your body will produce ketones, which are a byproduct of fat breakdown. Don’t worry. You lose them when you hit the head on your coffee break.
So for a 200-pound man, you’d need 200g of carbs per day to maintain your current bodyweight without changing your lift schedule. For that same 200-pound man, you’d need 140g or less of carbs per day to start losing and enter that slight state of ketosis.
Pro Tip: To speed up the fat loss even further, you need to make sure that most or all of your carbs for that day come within two hours of your workout, on either end. So if you lift from 2 to 3pm, make sure you eat all your carbs either between 12 and 2pm or 3 and 5pm.
Abs vs. Core Training
I’m sure you know or know of people who have back problems. If not, I’ll present one we can all relate to: Sitting at a desk for hours and hours without standing up and without working out for an extended period of time. All the time you hear about doctors, physical therapists and trainers recommending core training for people with bad posture and back pain as a result.
So that’s abs work, right?
Well, not exactly.
The core is defined as the stabilizing muscles of the trunk. That’s a pretty abstract definition, so let me simplify it for you: Abs, lower back, hip flexors, and glutes. These muscle groups are the ones that hold you upright all day, whether you stand, sit, run, walk or whatever you do all day. It’s important that all these muscles are strong and stable to prevent all sorts of issues that could present themselves as a result of living life. And, when they are strong, they look pretty good on the beach, too.
Home Ab Workouts
Generally, these workouts should supplement your normal workout schedule. They should not be a substitute. We’ve given you a couple of options, so you can cycle through them if you so choose. You can just throw them in at the end of a lift, do them on off days, or both, depending on how you tolerate core training.
Directions: Start each workout with a three-minute plank. Then, perform moves in the sequence listed. Then rest 30 to 60 seconds. Complete three sets. Feel free to mix and match as you like.
V-up x 25
Prone Back Extension x 25
Russian Twist x 25 each side
Single-Leg Glute Bridge x 10 each side
Crossback Crunch x 25
Scissor Kick x 25 each side
Side Plank with Leg Lift x 15 each side
Elbow-To-Knee Crunch x 20 each side
Glute Bridge x 15
Side Crunch x 25 each side
Penguins x 25 each side
Aquaman x 20 each side
Superman Hold x 30 seconds
Toe Tap x 10 each side
Toe Touch x 25
Star Plank x 30 seconds
Superman Push-up x 10
Push-up Hold (down position) x 30 seconds
My abs burn just looking at that!
The good news: Each one of these workouts, including the three-minute plank, last just about 10 minutes each. You can do them on your lunch break if you so desire and you’re done.
Most times, if done alone, these won’t even make you break a sweat, so you can go into that big meeting with your boss no sweat (pun intended) and kill that presentation without fear of showing any pit stains in your shirt. Then when it comes time for the office team building pool party, that cutie from accounting will be paying much more attention to your abs than the beverage table.
Some of the exercises we mentioned, you may not have heard of. Rest easy. We’ve got the directions on how to do them.
Lie back down on the ground and extend your hands overhead and lift your legs slightly off the ground. This is the start position. Crunch up and bring your hands up to grab your calves, shoulder blades and hips off the floor. Hold for one second and slowly lower yourself back to the start position. That’s one rep.
Prone Back Extension
Lie face down on the floor, hands by your sides. This is the start position. Press your hips into the floor, lifting your legs and shoulders off the ground and squeeze your shoulder blades off the ground while lifting your hands towards the ceiling. Hold for one second and slowly lower yourself back to the start position. That’s one rep.
Sit on your butt on the ground, and let yourself fall halfway backward towards the ground and lift your legs off the ground. You should feel a lot of tension on your abs. Turn your shoulders to your left and touch your right hand to the floor, then turn your shoulders all the way to the right and touch your left hand to the floor. That’s one rep each side.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Lie on your back on the floor, legs bent 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your left leg off the floor. This is the start position. Squeeze your right glute and push your hips into the air so your body is a straight line from shoulders to hips to knees. Hold for one second and then slowly lower yourself to the floor. That’s one rep. Complete prescribed reps, switch sides and repeat.
Lie on your back on the floor, legs bent 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands up over your head and reach to touch your opposite shoulder blade. This is the start position. Keeping your hands on your shoulder blades, crunch up, squeezing your abs and hold for one second. Then slowly lower yourself back to the floor. That’s one rep.
Lie on your back on the floor and raise your legs six inches off the ground. Then lift your right leg up so that it is about a foot higher than your left. This is the start position. Scissor-kick your legs for the prescribed reps.
Side Plank with Leg Lifts
Rest one elbow on the floor and turn so your chest is perpendicular to the floor. Raise your opposite hand (not the one on the floor) and point towards the ceiling, then raise your hips off the floor, feet stacked on top of each other. This is the start position. Keeping your core and hips tight, raise your top leg, pause one second, then slowly lower it back to the other leg. That’s one rep. Do the prescribed reps, then switch sides and repeat.
Lie on your back on the ground, hands folded behind your head. Lift your legs six inches off the floor. This is the start position. Crunch up and bring your right elbow in to meet your left knee over your belly. Then slowly return to the start position. That’s one rep. Complete the prescribed reps, switch sides and repeat.
Glute Bridge x 15
Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent 90 degrees. This is the start position. Squeeze your glutes and push your hips up to have your body form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for one second. Then slowly lower yourself to the start position. That’s one rep.
Lie on your side on the ground and place the hand closer to the ceiling behind your head, as if folding your hands behind your head. This is the start position. Crunch up to the side and bring that elbow to meet the same-side knee (for example, right elbow will meet right knee) over your hip. That’s one rep. Complete the prescribed reps, switch sides and repeat.
Lie on your back on the ground, knees bent 90 degrees. Perform a small crunch so that your shoulder blades are off the ground. This is the start position. Bend from side-to-side reaching around to touch your opposite heels. One side-to-side cycle is one rep each side.
Lie face down on the floor, hands overhead. This is the start position. Press your hips into the floor and raise your right hand and left leg off the floor. Pause for one second. Then lower them and raise your left hand and right leg off the floor. Pause. Then return to the start position. That’s one rep each side.
Lie face down on the floor, hands overhead. Press your hips into the floor while simultaneously squeezing your shoulder blades, lifting your hands and legs off the floor. Hold for prescribed time.
Get into a push-up position on the floor. This is the start position. Simultaneously lift your right hand and left foot off the floor and slowly bring your hand to meet your toes under your body and repeat on the opposite side. Don’t let your hips rock side to side. Stay rigid in your core. That’s one rep each side.
Lie on your back on the ground, legs straight up towards the ceiling. This is the start position. Crunch up and reach up as if to touch your toes and slowly lower yourself back to the ground. That’s one rep.
Lie face down on the floor hands extended out and up at a 45-degree angle, legs spread out in the same position. Bring your hands in a little bit and push them out and down against the floor to lift yourself off the floor. Hold for the prescribed time.
Lie face down on the floor, hands extended overhead, elbows slightly bent. This is the start position. Press your hands into the floor to lift your whole body off the ground. Hold for one second and slowly return to the start position. That’s one rep.
Push-up Hold (down position)
Get into a push-up position on the floor and lower yourself to the down position so your chest is about an inch off the ground. Hold for the prescribed time.
Ask anybody who has ever trained and they will tell you that building picture-perfect abs is something they would ideally like to accomplish. Fortunately, it really isn’t as difficult as many people seem to believe it to be provided that you know what you are doing. Follow these home ab workouts tips and, if you’re patient, you should find your abdominal muscles popping just the way you always envisioned.
By Michael Schletter, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D
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