How to Achieve Dream Abs

Try the following ab routine as a circuit, or in sequential sets of 12 to 15 reps.

The Basic Crunch

Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your arms along your sides, palms facing down. Slowly lift your shoulders off the floor, keeping you neck and head aligned with your back. While pulling your belly button inward, raise your arms about 2 to 3 inches off of the floor and crunch up, using your upper abdominals. Maintain a slow pace, exhale while rising up, and inhale back down using four-count method. Remember to keep your abs tight the entire time without coming back to the floor until the set is over. Repeat about 2 to 3 times.

The Reverse Crunch

This exercise will penetrate and really work your lower abs. Begin by lying on your back with your legs together and your feet in the air. With your palms resting on the floor for support, slowly raise your hips off the floor. It is important to keep your muscles engaged by keeping your hips off of the floor the entire duration of the workout. Crunch up, elevating your butt even higher off of the floor, then come halfway down. Tip: Focus on how tight you can get your lower abs, rather than how high you can lift your hips.

The Advanced Crunch

Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Raise your arms over your head, palms facing each other with your elbows at your ears. When starting in your first position, gradually lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Do not go any lower than this. Next, crunch up as you exhale, then slowly lower as you inhale. This movement is advanced, and you must be sure to use your upper abs to raise your torso rather than straining your neck pulling up. Repeating this movement directly targets and works the rectus abdominous, helping define and sculpt the stomachs “six pack” shape. Begin with a basic crunch to work up to this exercise. Avoid this exercise if you have neck problems or weak muscles in this area.

The Bicycle

Lie on your back with your hands lightly touching the back of you head, slowly raise you upper body off the floor by gradually tightening your abdominal muscles. Bend one leg toward your chest and allow your other leg to extend out about 6 to 10 inches off of the floor. Rotate your upper body toward your bent knee, twisting from your torso, not your neck! Follow by rotating your torso to the other side, while simultaneously switching legs. Count to four on each side, pause for a moment and repeat two more times. Slowly rotating towards each side forces your external obliques to keep your body from twisting, giving you a killer workout in the process.

The Oblique Twist

Lie on the floor with your knees together and bent slightly to one side. Keep your hands behind your head for support. Crunch up as high as you can without lifting your legs or pulling on your neck. When you reach this point, twist slightly towards your knees and hold. Slowly lower and repeat for 10 – 12 reps, then switch sides. This kind of exercise is good for symmetry and stabilization, and will help you sculpt your waistline.

The Advanced Oblique Twist

Lie on your back with your legs together and your feet in the air. Tip: If you are a beginner, bend at the knees. Rest your arms straight out from your shoulders, or at an angel for balance, with your palms on the floor. Lower your legs to one side on a four-count, going as close to the floor as you can without twisting your upper back. Return to the starting position on a four-count, focusing on your lower abs and obliques. Repeat on the other side. Remember to breathe, inhale on the way down to the floor, and exhale on the way up.

The Plank

Start by lying on your stomach with your arms bent so you’re resting on your elbows and forearms. Lift your body up slowly, resting on your forearms and toes. Look at the floor past your fingers to keep your neck straight, and tighten your abs and lower back. Hold as long as you can while taking deep slow breaths. This is an isometric hold that builds core strength and balance. To make it slightly easier, drop to your knees, keeping your hips tucked under and your abs tight.

The Bent Knee Lift

Lie on your back with your legs together in the air and your knees bent at about a 90-degree angle. Allow your arms to rest on the floor, slightly out from your body with your palms facing down. You need to contract your upper abs so your lower back stays on the floor, this is a lower ab exercise and no movement is actually done with the upper abs. Lower your right foot on a two, or four-count, keeping both knees bent and maintaining the angle of your upper leg. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your other leg. Tip: Increase the intensity by lowering both legs together at the same time.

Tips for tight abs:

  • Go slowly! Controlled movements are the key to achieving sculpted
  • Go through a full range of motion with every exercise without pausing at the top or bottom. By doing so, you keep your abs engaged the entire time, maximizing your effort.
  • Challenge yourself and your abs like! Keep increasing your intensity by doing different exercises, or add resistance like a medicine ball for examples.
  • Focus and Concentrate. Think of the area you are working. It will force you to work harder and produce better results faster. Tip: Try closing your eyes and imagining the muscle doing its thing.
  • A strong midsection, or core, relies on the back as much as the front. Balance ab work with lower back exercises. Neglecting the lower back in favor of the more visible abs could lead to a muscle imbalance and possibly pain or back injuries.

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