Just because college campuses are closed due to COVID doesn’t mean you are immuned from the freshman 15, in fact most of us have traded in the freshman 15 for something even worse, the COVID 20. But have no fear because amazing ab exercises are here. I know you’re already a smoke show, but if you want to get those washboard abs you always dreamed of, or like me live in Florida where fortunately while simultaneously unfortunately bikini season is year round, here are 5 of the best ab workouts that will build your core strength.
A tried and true exercise, the plank is one of the best ab workouts you can do to strengthen your core. What’s so great about the plank, not only is it a very simple exercise that you can do anywhere, but the plank doesn’t just workout your abs, but your whole body. Being able to hold your body in the plank position takes not just strength, but endurance in your back, abs, and most importantly core. The plank can also improve your balance, and help with your posture.
According to runnersworld.com, “Here’s how to do it: Get into forearm plank position. Ensure your elbows on the ground directly underneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your back is flat and your head and neck are in a neutral position. Drive your elbows into the floor, and squeeze your quads, glutes, and core.”
2. Dead Bug
Another good exercise you can do anywhere is the dead bug, all you need is the ground, and a space roughly as big as a yoga mat. You may also use a yoga mat for comfort, but if you don’t have one, the ground is fine. The dead bug is one of the best ab workouts because it creates deep core muscle strength. You may not feel an actual burning sensation when doing this exercise, but burning doesn’t always mean better. The dead bug is excellent for an all encompassing abdominal workout.
Here is a step by step instructions on how to do the dead bug from verywellfit.com,
“1. Lie on the mat with your arms extended straight over your chest so they form a perpendicular angle with your torso. Bend your hips and knees 90-degrees, lifting your feet from the ground. Your torso and thighs should form a right angle, as should your thighs and shins. This is the starting position.
2. Engage your core, maintaining contact between your lower back and the mat. You want to make sure your spine maintains this steady and neutral position throughout the exercise.
3.Keep your right arm and left leg exactly where they are, then slowly reach your left arm backward, over your head and toward the floor as you simultaneously extend your right knee and hip, reaching your right heel toward the floor. Move slowly and steadily, breathing in as you perform the extensions, avoiding any twisting or movement of your hips and abs. Stop the movement just before your arm and leg touch the ground.
4. Reverse the movement and return your left arm and right leg to their starting positions. Move slowly and steadily, exhaling as you go.
5. Perform the same movements to the opposite sides, this time keeping your left arm and right leg steady as you extend your right arm and left leg.
6. Do the same number of repetitions on each side. When you complete a full set, simply return your feet to the ground and sit up.”
3. Butterfly sit-up
The butterfly sit-up is an amazing ab exercise, a modified version of the sit-up, what makes this exercise one of the best ab workouts is having your legs in the butterfly position makes it impossible for you to use your hip flexors while doing the sit-up. This is beneficial because it forces you to have good form, plus you can either bring your legs closer or further to you to make the exercise easier or harder, either way the exercise is one of the best ab workouts.
Here is how to do the butterfly sit-up according to redefiningstrength.com,
“To do Butterfly Sit Ups, start seated on the ground and bring the bottoms of your feet together as you let your bent knees fall open into a Butterfly stretch.
Bring your heels in toward your body (your mobility will determine how close you bring them in).
Keeping your knees open and the bottom of your feet together, lie back on the ground. You can extend your arms overhead or bring them into your chest. Then sit up, rolling up so that your low back stays connected with the ground until the end.
Reach your hands toward your feet or keep them in at your chest. The more you swing your arms, the easier the move will be.
Then lie back down. Sort of roll back down. Don’t just go flat back down and let your low back arch.
Make sure to sort of roll, so you press that low back into the ground.
Then repeat, sitting back up (again remember to sort of “roll” to engage those abs). Keep your feet on the ground. If you keep your legs out a bit straighter, it will be easier than if you bring your heels in closer to your body.”
4. High Boat to Low Boat
Speaking of hip flexors, an exercise you can do to strengthen your hip flexors as well as your erector spinae, and rectus abdominis, is the high boat to low boat exercise. Besides that the high boat to low boat is a challenging exercise, but with a very rewarding pay off. The pay off being a nice set of abs.
Here is how to do one of the best ab workouts, high boat to low boat, from self.com,
“-Sit up straight with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor.
-Keeping your legs together, slowly lift them off the floor until they form a 45-degree angle to your torso. Engage your entire core, keep your back flat, and balance on your tailbone.
-You can keep your knees bent (as pictured) or straighten them out for more of a challenge.
-Reach your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. If you feel that you need some extra support, place your hands on the floor, underneath your hips.
-This is High Boat. Hold here for three deep breaths.
-Then, lower your legs, straightening them out, while also lowering your upper body. Both your shoulder blades and legs should hover a few inches off the floor. If that is too challenging, keep them slightly higher off the floor and work toward bringing them lower and lower.
-This is Low Boat. Hold for one breath, and then lift your legs and torso back to High Boat.”
5. Half Kneeling Wood Chop
The half kneeling wood chop is one of the best ab workouts good because it targets parts of your body people usually miss during workouts, as well as being an amazing work out for your obliques, transverse abdominals, lats, shoulders, and more.
Here is how to do the half kneeling wood chop from girlsgonestrong.com,
“-Get into a half kneeling lunge/split squat position. Your knees should be in line with your hips, and your body in a square position.
-Hold a dumbbell, weight plate, or kettlebell by the horns.
-Before you go take a deep breath into your belly (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (I like to pretend that I’m about to block a soccer ball with my stomach), actively tuck your rib cage towards your hips (close the space in your midsection), and squeeze your glutes. Now perform a diagonal chopping movement with the weight.
-Keep your arms relatively relaxed so they do not dominate the exercise.
-Keep your shoulder blades drawn together and down (together and down towards your opposite hip). Do not allow yours shoulders to round or shrug.
-Maintain a tripod foot (weight on the mid to back of your foot, and keep your big and baby toe down) for the duration of the exercise. This will dramatically improve your overall stability and ability to perform this exercise. You might even feel the glute of the forward leg, and this is a good thing.
-Maintain proper alignment for the duration of the exercise. There should be no rotation occurring in your shoulders, torso or pelvis, and your body should not tilt laterally. Your body should remain relatively vertical (can have a slight forward lean in your torso), and your spine should remain in a neutral position.
-Do not allow your knee to collapse in or fall out.
-Reset before each rep. Once you have finished chopping in one direction, repeat in the opposite direction.
-Choose a weight/band/cable resistance that allows you to accomplish the above.
-If you are performing the tall kneeling chop, get in a kneeling position, so your knees are in line with your hips. Make sure your body is level and is not leaning backwards.”