Abdominal exercises have gone far from being just exercises performed for aesthetic, bodybuilding reasons to functional purposes that mimic sports related movements for better performance in sports and different activities. Core exercises have taken much of the workout programs out there today for one apparent reason. A good core helps you lift more, move better and maintain stability all over your body. Presented here are the essential exercises that you can perform for your abdominals as well as your lower back. You can choose three to four activities from the list and perform these exercises as a stand-alone workout or you can perform these exercises as your warm-up or one among your finishing exercises.
1) The plank
These abdominal exercises target your core like no other. This basic exercise is essential for targeting your lower back and maintaining stability for your abdominals and your whole core for better athletic performance.
Start this exercise by assuming a push-up position but with your forearms supporting you instead. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels as you hold this exercise for 30 seconds for a total of four to five sets. In order to maintain a straight line of your body, you can contract your glutes, your quads, and your abs at the same time as you hold the position.
There are different variations that you can do with this exercise. You can also perform this one among the abdominal exercises with a decline version, by elevating your feet on a bench or on a chair while utilizing the same position. A more challenging variation is also done by performing the side plank.
2) The side plank
Perform this exercise by lying on your side on the floor or on a mat. Then place your forearm on the mat under your shoulder, supporting your body weight. Place your upper leg directly on top of the lower leg while maintaining a straight leg position, with your knees and hips also straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds per side for a total of four to five sets. There is an easier version of this exercise which can be performed with your knees bent.
3) The single leg lowering exercise
Start these abdominal exercises by lying on the floor or on a mat while keeping your legs straight up towards the ceiling. While keeping your legs straight, lower your right leg until it is almost 2 to 3 inches from the floor. Afterwards, return to the starting position and this time, do it with your other leg. That is a single repetition. In order to maximize the effect of this workout, think about pushing your heel away from your hips as you perform to lower your leg. Make sure to avoid pointing your toes toward the ceiling. Make this exercise more efficient by flexing your foot towards you as you perform the exercise and lead with the heels instead.
4) The cable kneeling chopper
This exercise targets your core particularly the oblique muscles. Start the exercise by kneeling down on your right knee, and with your left knee pointing to the direction of the pull down machine. Grab the ends of the rope handles with your both hands. Then rotate your upper body as your pull the ropes towards you, to your chest, to your sides and down away from you. Then return to the starting position. Maintain your torso upright as much as possible throughout the movement and as you extend your arms away from your upper body.
5) The hip ups exercise
Begin these abdominal exercises by lying on your left side, keeping it perpendicular to the floor at all times. Then support yourself with your right forearm and raise the hips so your body is straight from the head to the feet. Lower your right hip until it almost touches the floor. Then raise your hips back up until your body is in a straight line as with your starting position. That is a single rep. Continue this abdominal exercise for a total of 25 reps for three sets and hold the up position for ten seconds. Repeat on the other side before resting.
6) The mountain climber
Start this activity by assuming the classic push up position with your hands approximately shoulder width apart and your legs straight. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels. Then with a single movement bring your right knee towards your chest while maintaining the push-up position then return to the starting position and straighten your right leg again. Repeat on the other leg. That’s one repetition. Do for a total of 25 reps for two to three sets. When performing this exercise makes sure that you keep your body stable throughout the movement and void jerking your body to maximize the stress on your core. You can also add a more challenging version by performing this exercise on a Swiss ball with your arms supported by the Swiss ball. The unstable movement provided by the Swiss ball allows your abdomen and your lower back muscles to work harder.
7) The reverse crunch with figure of 8 loops
Start these abdominal exercises by lying on your back on the floor with your palms facing down and your legs straight. The raise your legs until they create a 45-degree angle to the floor. Then make looping circles with your leg creating an imaginary number 8 in the air. Do it first to your left then to your right side forming an imaginary sideway figure of eight. Performing this exercise while making smaller loops targets the rectus abdominis while leading with larger loops builds the entire core. It also activates the oblique muscles, the hips and the muscles of your lower back. You can pair these exercises with your current workout or as a stand-alone workout session.
These abdominal exercises not just target the abdominal muscles but also the core. Performing these exercises require proper execution so don’t hesitate to call for the assistance of your trainer or instructor to avoid injuries.