Sorry guys, but crunches and sit-ups will never give you rock-solid abs on their own. Research has found that many of these popular movements that are supposed to get you a chiseled mid-section in no time don’t actually produce any significant results and place a lot of strain on other parts of the body such as the neck, spine and lower back. Instead, you should first try harder to eat right and reduce your body fat by burning more calories than you consume (belly fat does a wonderful job at covering them up, remember?).
Some seasoned bodybuilders would even go as far as to say that abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym. Next, you have to engage in a diverse workout routine that targets each of the upper and lower abdominal muscles and works them from every possible angle.
There is more to the abdominal area than the six-pack – this muscle group includes many interconnected muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the butt, and all of them should get a piece of the action if you want to get the kind of ripped stomach you see on magazine covers.
Forget about crunches and try this program of six exercises that effectively target all abdominal muscles and promote greater fat loss and a better muscle building response than any of the traditional abs exercises. You can do them in straight sets, resting 30 seconds between sets, or in a circuit with no rest between exercises.
Ready to build a washboard mid-section? Make your abs scream with the routine below!
1. Flutter kicks
Lie on your back with the head and back relaxing on the ground, arms extended by your sides. Tighten your abs and hold the legs straight out and lifted about six inches above the ground. Start the movement by lifting the left leg higher than the right leg, then lower it as you lift the right leg higher. This should be done quickly, in a scissor-like motion.
You can also tuck your hands underneath the glutes for a better control of the movement. One kick with each leg constitutes one rep. Perform 5 sets of 15 reps.
2. Straight leg raises
Lie on your back with the head and back relaxing on the ground and the legs extended. Keeping the knees straight and close together, slowly lift your legs straight up towards the ceiling until they are about perpendicular to the floor, if possible. Hold the position for a few moments, keeping the lower abs contracted. Slowly return to the starting position.
3. Side raises
Lie on the side with a straight body and have your body weight distributed on your forearm. The feet should be on top of each other. Lift your hips up off of the floor, powering the movement with your forearm, so that your whole body forms a straight line, with the head and neck aligned with the rest of the body.
Hold the position for a few moments, then slowly lower your hips back down to the floor. Perform 5 sets of 15 reps.
4. Oblique crunches
Lie on your right side with the legs on top of each other, bent at the knees. Place the left hand behind your head. Start by moving your left elbow up and crunch as high as you can.
Hold the position for a few moments, focusing on the contraction in the obliques. Slowly return to the starting position and do a few more repetitions on the left side, then switch and repeat on the right side. Perform 5 sets of 30 reps (15 reps on each side).
5. Alternating elbow-to-knee
Lie on your back and cross your arms across your chest so that the right hand rests on the left shoulder and the left hand rests on the right shoulder. Crunch up and bring the right elbow towards the left knee, then drop back to the floor. Then alternate to the other side and bring the left elbow towards the right knee. Perform 5 sets of 30 reps (15 reps on each side).
6. Reverse hip crunch thrusts
Lie on your back with your head and neck resting on the floor, bent knees and flat feet. Your arms should be by your sides. Keeping a tight core, slowly roll your legs up towards your ears, bringing the hips up towards you. Hold the position for a few moments, then slowly lower the legs back to the floor. Perform 5 sets of 15 reps.
These exercises are simple yet very powerful and the high number of sets is guaranteed to get your mid-section burning. So if you want to rock some impressive abs this summer, start sweating right now!