Abs are one of the most stubborn areas of fat to work on in the body. It requires consistency and determination, an appropriate diet, and just the right mindset and self-control to be able to see any results. In other words–it’s tough work and doesn’t happen overnight. But with a strong core, you’re able to move in other areas much more easily which means that having rock-hard abs isn’t all for show, it can provide you with health benefits as well. Even something as simple as carrying out your groceries without break a sweat can be helped by a strong core. 

Of course you don’t get a six-pack overnight, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results right away. The first goal is typically to be able to shred the unnecessary fat by doing cardio, so it will be easier to tone up since we’re working with more muscle and less fat. Then we can move onto these 5 essential exercises for those washboard abs: 

1. The good old plank and its variations. 

The plank is an exercise that requires absolutely no equipment, which means you can do it anytime and anywhere, no excuses. You can do it at home, while on vacation, staying at a hotel. Literally, anywhere if there is a little space. So, how does this one go again? 

You can start by lying face down on the ground, and then raise your legs up. For the upper body, make use of your forearms to balance. You can ball up your fists or you can even clasp your hands together for a better balance. Elbows should be aligned under the shoulders. If this is too easy for you, you can add moves like lifting an arm and leg or even dip your hips from side to side to target the obliques. Other variations include plank jacks or mountain climbers.

This can help with your core stability, and works many muscle groups all in one move. Apart from your core, the plank can also target your glutes, quads and even your back. The variations are endless with this one, just make sure you’re engaging your core muscles and your form is correct to avoid any injuries. 

The bird dog. 

Start this by being in high-plank or tabletop position. Engage your core and lift up one arm simultaneously with the opposite leg and then bring them back in to do a crunch. This seems fairly easy but it actually works a lot of muscles as well, like the plank. Correct form also plays a role as even just the slightest hyperextension of the arms can lose its effect on the triceps. 

Ab wheel rollout

This exercise has earned its title as a classic and rightfully so, however the piece of equipment it requires is not the easiest to get the hang of. The challenge is really being able to execute it properly, your abs don’t do much of the moving but the exercise is really a challenge for your core to keep you from falling onto the floor by helping you keep your spine in a neutral position so as not to collapse. It’s more of an endurance exercise for your abs and will later on leave them burning, and there is no set reps for these as they are meant to be done until you feel like you can’t do them anymore. Hard core. No pun intended. 

4. Side-bends with weights

This one gained popularity since the likes of the 90s or 00s. It can seem pretty easy if you execute it incorrectly, make sure also to be mindful of the weight you choose. Reasonable weights will help for optimum results. This is done by standing fully straight up with feet hip-width apart, back straight and balanced. Remember to activate the core muscles. Slowly lean to the side with the dumbbell in your hand as low as you can go and then use your core to lift you back upright. This can also target the waist, making you look trim and fit. 

5. Bicycle crunches

This one really makes you feel the burn – and fast. To do this, lay with your back flat on the ground. As with any ab exercises, having your back rest straight will make sure that you don’t injure the lower back and push from there instead of the core. Lift your neck up to lessen the strain, and with your hands behind your head, bring a knee to the chest to meet with the opposite elbow. When one knee comes in, make sure the other is extended. This imitates riding a bicycle, hence the name. This is great for targeting the rectus abdominis and the obliques. 

Gone are the days when we would do a ton of crunches just to get those abs. There are more exercises, some more challenging, some a lot more fun.. but nonetheless these exercises will really speed up the process of seeing those abs.

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