Looking for a tight, toned stomach? Who isn’t, right? Well if you’re serious about it, you can strengthen your abdominal muscles and show off a killer six-pack by doing these stomach exercises!
The shredded six-pack is one of the more difficult feats to accomplish when it comes to your physical appearance.
That’s because it takes both dedication to work your abs and dedication to focusing on your diet.
If you’re ready to accomplish such a great look, you need to know what the best stomach exercises are and how to maintain such a look.
Abs Are Made In The Kitchen
You’ve probably heard this saying before, but it’s true.
You can do as many stomach exercises as you want, but you’ll never see them if you don’t put in the dietary work.
If you don’t want to see your abs (or don’t care, at least), then do the ab work to strengthen your core and forget about this section.
You need to drop weight in order to begin seeing your abs. If you can’t see your abs all at once don’t worry, you’ll get there.
Dieting and working out takes time, and you’ll see the improvements slowly.
As long as you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in, you’ll eventually see your abs.
Additionally, try to cut out your sodium and heavy carb intake. Both sodium and carbs retain water.
In fact, for every one gram of carbs that remains in your system your body may retain up to four grams of water.
Carbs are great if you’re working out and need energy. However, it’s the empty carbs where you’re hanging out, sitting on the TV, watching the football game without any plan on hitting the gym that day.
There’s a reason you probably feel a bit bloated after a massive Thanksgiving meal. All those potatoes, casseroles, and who knows what else, packs on the carbs, which packs on the water weight.
With a big holiday meal, you can easily pass 100 grams of carbs, which means you’re holding onto 400 grams of water. That’s almost a full pound of water your body is holding onto.
We’re not going to give you a specific diet to follow here.
We’ve got some great diet articles for dropping weight and seeing your abs, so make sure to check those out. Whatever diet you follow, stick to it, burn more than you eat, and you’ll have great abs in no time (Harvard Health, 2018).
Stomach Exercises For Beginners
You can go for numbers with an ab routine, but eventually, you’ll find it easy to hit 10 or 20 reps, and by then you’re not working your abs, or you keep adding numbers and it pulls your workout into unnecessary lengths.
That’s why we like to focus on time.
You can always speed up how fast you perform a stomach exercise as your abs strengthen, and you can reduce your recovery time between sets.
This way, you won’t balloon out your ab workout from 10 to 30 minutes.
Start out by selecting seven or eight exercises. Do one for 45 seconds, wait for 15, then move on to the next in the circuit.
You can do a second circuit if you like, which will put your workout to around 14 minutes.
You can also move straight from one move to the next without wait time, which will take you down closer to a 10-minute ab workout routine.
We have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the machine crunch.
First, we generally like performing stomach exercises without the aid of a machine (that’s a general assessment for almost all weight lifting exercises).
However, most ab exercises do not receive any kind of weight resistance, and should you toss on a weight plate it’s easy to perform an exercise incorrectly, which is why the machine crunch makes the list.
Naturally, if you’re looking to do ab work at home you’re not going to have access to the ab crunch machine, but if you workout at a gym, use it.
It’s important to focus on your posture when using the machine.
Don’t over-do it with the weight so you’re tossing your back into the crunch.
This just strains your neck and causes more problems than solutions.
It’s alright to go lighter on the weight. Even if you’re just doing 10 or 20 pounds, that’s still 10 or 20 pounds more than you’re doing with a regular crunch.
The Russian twist is a solid ab workout as it focuses not only on your obliques but your core abdominal muscles as well.
Begin in a crunch position with your back off the ground.
Take both hands and hold them together in a fist. Now, twist to your left so your fists touch the ground, then twist to your right and do the same.
Continue this for 45 seconds, making sure to only move your core muscles.
If you want to increase the difficulty here lift your feet off the ground. You can also add a small plate weight or medicine ball to increase the resistance (we have an even harder Russian twist listed later).
If you invest in any kind of ab workout equipment at home, this is the one to get (and a medicine ball, but you can use that for a number of other workouts).
With the ab wheel, start by kneeling on the floor, holding the ab wheel in front of you.
Tighten your core and allow the wheel to roll out in front of you. Eventually, you’ll feel the maximum tension, now, rollback (which is really where it gets difficult).
If you don’t have an ab wheel, you can use a light barbell and 5-10 pound weights here, which works in a similar manner.
The old fashion crunch is still a great way to hit the top of your abs.
With your feet flat on the ground position your hands gently behind your head.
It’s important to not pull up with your hands but instead leave them softly there behind your head (otherwise you’ll strain your neck). Crunch up, then lower yourself down.
It’s okay to do these slowly to maximize your crunch.
If you want to make it more difficult to perform it on a Swiss exercise ball.
Here’s a great move for your lower abs.
Lay with your back on the ground and your legs straight out in front of you.
Now lift your right foot up a few inches, then lower it down and lift your right foot (all while keeping your legs straight).
Do this quickly, as if you’re flutter kicking in a pool. Just make sure to keep your lower back on the ground.
Advanced Stomach Exercises
You can add some of these into your workout routine after you’ve spent some time on your abs already.
Many of these stomach exercises require you to hang from a pull-up bar. This may not sound so fun but its great for strengthening those ab muscles because it isolates those stomach muscles!
You likely will not be able to perform these kinds of exercises right out of the gate.
There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Work your way up to it.
By the time you’re able to do these, you’ll already have a strong core. These moves just take it to the next level.
Hanging Leg Raise
This is a difficult ab workout as it not only works your shoulders and your arm strength but your entire core as well.
Hanging from a pull-up bar, position your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Allow the tips of your toes to touch the ground.
Then, keeping your back straight, lift your legs up to parallel with the ground.
Perform the entire crunch only using your ab muscles.
If you let your leg muscles do all the work you’re not really using your core.
Tighten your core as you lift and you’ll feel not only the stress of the exercise but the pull of gravity on your abdominal muscles.
To work your obliques with this move start your toes on the flow in the center position, then left your legs toward your right and then your left side.
Shoot for 10 to 15 reps per set here.
If you want to make it really tough, add in a small medicine ball either at your toes or between your thighs. This forces your leg muscles to tighten in order to keep the ball secure as you lift.
Decline Russian Twist With Medicine Ball
This is a killer ab workout.
The Russian twist is already one of the best ab workouts when it comes to working your entire core.
However, the decline takes it to an entirely new level.
Set a bench to decline and grab a medicine ball. Lift your back off the bench and twist with the ball.
As your back has zero support you emphasize the work on your abs.
Do what you can in 45 seconds and you’ll feel completely exhausted at the end of it (and you’ll feel it the next day).
How Often Should You Do Stomach Exercises?
For most other muscle groups, you’d target them maybe once or twice a week, depending on the kind of workout routine you’re following and how hard you hit each muscle group.
However, the abdominal muscles are different. Unlike large muscle groups, which require time to recover.
If you were to hit your lower body every day your muscles would never have time to recover, which stunts your growth and strength gains.
That’s not how the abdominal muscles work.
The abdominal muscles are engaged throughout the day.
As your muscles are used to hold the rest of your torso and upper body up-right, these muscles are constantly in use.
Because the muscles are accustomed to being in constant use, you can hit the abdominal muscles with these stomach exercises every single day.
You’ll help strengthen your core and ensure the best possible improvement by doing so.
Now, if you miss a day here or there it isn’t the end of the world, but do your best to add in ab work every day (University New Mexico, 2005).
How Long Should My Ab Routine Be?
You can use as many of these stomach exercises as you want.
Go ahead and mix and match stomach exercises on different days to help keep it fresh and different. Some days you can start your workout with a couple stomach exercises and on other days you can end with it.
You can change the order or perform alterations to the moves here.
It’s completely up to you (you’re not going for strength gains necessarily with your ab muscles, so you don’t need to put one exercise over the other).
Your ab routine should only be around seven to 10 minutes in length.
You’ve probably seen ab workouts on YouTube or even on DVD that are 20 or 30 minutes (or even longer). This is beyond unnecessary.
In fact, these videos likely do not spend the entire time working the abs, or there is a considerable amount of bloat going on.
You don’t need that amount of time on just your abs, which are small muscles that don’t take that long to fire up and hit.
So focus on doing these moves, 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off, and you’ll be done in under 10 minutes.
Best of all, you’ll really feel sore and know you put in a great stomach workout without spending much time on the abs at all (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
If you’re serious about improving the physical appearance of your abdominal muscles, you need to focus on both your diet and these abdominal muscle exercises.
It does take work and dedication to reach your goals of a shredded six-pack, but even if you just want to improve the strength of your core, you need to begin incorporating these stomach exercises into your daily workout routine.
As long as you do, you’ll begin to feel stronger and tighter in your midsection, which in turn can help improve a handful of other exercises as well as reduce the stress on your lower back experienced during daily activities.