Very very rarely do I work out and not fit in my standard ab routine; I don’t feel like I’ve done a proper workout if I come out of the gym without my abs aching! I’ve ‘trained’ my abs for as long as I can remember – I’m talking 200 crunches a night whilst using a towel for a ‘mat’ on my bedroom floor aged 12/13. As a result, my stomach is the one part of my body that is toned pretty much all year round, no matter my diet or fitness levels.
Over time I’ve developed a bit of a staple ab workout that I do a few times a week, although I do shake things up every now and then so that my muscles have to work a little harder! I’ve had a few requests for a post about my ab routine, so I thought it was about time I shared it with you 🙂
Two things before we get into the thick of it:
- As with all workouts ever, I always find that the key to working your muscle to the max is really thinking about the muscle you’re using. That sounds weird and oversimplified and obvious, but I find that often our minds wander during sets and you can end up slacking and using the wrong muscles before you know it.
- My ab exercises are focussed on alternating between working the obliques, and working the abdominals. In really really really simple terms (because I’m in no way qualified to be delving into the details of the dozens of different muscles that make up our core), the obliques are the muscles that run down the side of your stomach. The abdominals are the muscles that create the ‘six pack’ – the lines running horizontally across your stomach. Again, I apologise for the disgraceful layman’s terms in which I’ve just described that, but screw it, it does the job. Let us now turn to Exhibit A, also known as Karina Elle and her incredible core, my fitness idol all day every day forever and ever til death do us part:
(Noel took this picture, so I don’t reaaaaally feel like I’ve plagiarised this in any way). Karina is a fitness model through and through, and posts so many useful videos and pictures. Check out her Instagram if you want to feel like a lesser mortal for a while. In the picture above you can clearly see defined obliques running down the side and forming a ridge above her hip, and then ridiculously chiselled abs. Yes. Well. *Puts down double chocolate chip cookies*.
ANYWAY. Without further ado, behold my Everyday Ab Routine (because you can do this at home as well as at the gym!):
#1 crunches: 30 reps
Crunches are my go-to. I’ve mixed it up a little by elevating my legs, which keeps the tension on the whole time. Chin up, squeeze your abs, try and keep your legs as straight as you can! Here, you’re focussing on your upper abs.
#2 russian twists: 30 reps (each side – which means 60 altogether!)
Time to make the obliques work: you can use a weight here, or just clasp your hands together. Start with your hands/weights in the middle, and bring them down to the floor, squeezing your obliques as you do. No need to rush – this is a good exercise to practice control. I like to keep my legs crossed for balance.
#3 hip raises: 15 reps
Place your hands palms down on the floor, and using your abs, roll your hips up, kicking your feet high. Control the movement on the way back down. We’re back to using upper abs here!
#4 side planks/side bounces: variable
My friend Lauren showed me this exercise, and it is my ALL TIME FAVOURITE. This is the exercise that I find has the most effect on me, both on my obliques (they pop so much after this!) and my abs. The best bit is that you can vary it so much depending on how experienced you are. If you’re starting out, I’d recommend 30 second side plank then 30 seconds of bounces.
Then, using your obliques, push your hips up and stay there for 30 seconds:
Once your 30 seconds is up, repeat the movement but ‘bounce’ every second or so – at this point I use my ‘free’ hand for stability! Carry this on for 30 seconds.
If you’re not feeling the burn after this I’ll be thoroughly impressed!
#5 alternating leg raises: 15 reps
This is another great one for practicing control. The exercise consists of three movements. Number one, start with your feet raised slightly off the ground:
Then, bring one leg up, leaving the other leg off the ground:
Finally, bring your other leg up. WOW I look serious in this picture. Anyway – then bring both legs down together. You’ll want to swap the leg you bring up first each time.
And that’s it!
Let me know if you try this out and how you find it! You can increase the number of reps/time/weights as you get more experienced.
Anyway – I’m off to put this into action!