Updated: Feb 21, 2019
It is interesting to me how people tend to group their workout objectives into muscle groups. These usually include the arms (or more specifically, the biceps), chest, legs and the all-important abs’.
And the question everyone wants to know with regard to each group is, 'How do I work out the muscles to maximum effect?'
Well, to achieve a productive workout, the first priority is to understand what you are targeting when you exercise.
So, when discussing the abs', we are essentially talking about three key muscle groups in the form of the obliques, transverse abdominis and the rectus abdominis (see below).
We should also add the core muscle group to this list, which are the abs’ themselves, plus the lower back muscles, with the core being front and back of the mid-section, roughly around the belt area.
If you wear a belt, of course.
To effectively deliver a solid abs’ workout exercise follow this four point plan:
Crunches & floor work:
Generally, this is the one exercise set that we exercise to strengthen the rectus abdominis muscles.
To so exercise the rectus abdominis use the abdominals crunch machine, or you can get the same effect by performing crunches laying on your back on the floor, by using a gym wheel (as below), or by performing the V crunch (also below).
The abdominals crunch machine is relatively easy to use, but be sure to squeeze your abs’ before engaging with it.
That way you are sure not to use your lower back (which is a common mistake) when you work your abs’ whilst using the machine.
Repeat 10 times.
The V crunch:
The V crunch is also a great exercise for your rectus abdominis, as it mixes coordination and exertion in one workout.
To deliver a successful V crunch exercise, lay down on your back, keep your legs straight but slightly bent, and then place your hands on your temple.
Next, move your legs up 45 degrees and stretch your arms whilst lifting your chest up and keep your chin up during this part of the exercise, before slowly moving back to your starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
See the photographs above for more.
A great way to work your obliques is to lay on your side on a Swiss ball (as in the photograph at the start of this blog post).
Your hip bone should be on the ball.
Then, move your body up and down, keeping both of your hands on your temple. Don’t go too fast when delivering this exercise, however, and you can also use a wall near by to lock your feet against to help control your speed.
Repeat 10 times.
See the photographs above for more and bear in mind that maintaining your form is important when performing these particular exercises.
The perfect exercise to work your core (and your obliques!) is the plank.
If you plank correctly, by precisely holding your position whilst in the plank formation for your preferred period of time (ten seconds per plank, for example), then all your core muscles are exercised for you.
See the photograph above to see the correct plant formation to use.
The overall idea when working your abs' is to make a circuit of these exercises and to repeat the exercises as indicated above step-by-step for your set.
For myself, I always like working my abs' after I run; though of course, as you run your core is engaged anyway without you having to think about it.
Which is another reason why I think running is so sweet!