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Building a well sculpted core is a target that most of us aim for and helps to create a leaner overall look. With summer coming, many of us stop focusing on bulking and look towards cutting down to make them abdominal muscles stand out. All our abs are different and some may find it easier than others to make their abs stand out.
A key factor to six-pack abs is a well maintained diet. It is no good building big abdominal muscles if they are going to be hiding under a layer of fat on your stomach. For most, you need a lean overall figure to get your abs to show. This means exercises are only going to get you halfway to stand-out abdominal muscles. The other half is going to come from eating a healthy high protein, low carb diet.
When it comes to exercises and workouts for your abs, many make the mistake of doing hundreds of sets of sit-ups and crunches. However, just like your mother muscles, for them to get bigger you need to increase the intensity and resistance against them. This is going to encourage muscle growth and allow you to build abdominals you are going to notice. Take a look at some of our favourite workouts below:
Dipped Leg Raise
The dipped leg raise is one of my favourite exercise for lower abs. To perform this exercise all you need is a set of parallel bars. Get yourself into the dipped position as if you would to perform Tricep dips. Slowly raise your legs, slightly bent, until they are parallel to the floor. I aim for a high rep range on this and usually perform 12 reps each time. Keeping your form is key to ensure the effectiveness of this exercise. If you find this becomes too easy or you want a lower rep range, you can try using ankle weights. This exercise is perfect for building that lower abdominal V shape.
The plank focuses on keeping the tension on your muscles for as long as you can hold it. The plank position is similar to the push-up position, but you need to keep your elbows and forearms also on the floor. There is no motion to this exercise, instead just holding the position for as long as possible. This is a great exercise to improve on over time. Start off by a short time such as 20 seconds and then try adding 5 seconds on each time you perform the plank.
Ab Wheel Rollout
The ab wheel rollout is a great exercise for all your abs to increase size and strength. To perform this exercise you need an ab wheel which you can purchase or most gyms will have one that you can use. To perform this, you need to lean on the floor with the ab wheel placed directly below your shoulders. Keep your arms straight and roll the ab wheel forward. Try to keep it slow and controlled, also keeping straight arms for the entire exercise. I like to perform a low rep range on this exercise, e.g. six reps per set to ensure I can keep correct form.
This simple exercise is ideal for hitting them lower abs. To perform this exercise all you need to do it lie on the flat on the floor. With straight legs, raise them up until they are vertical and then slowly being them back down. To perform this exercise correctly you are going to need a bench leg or something to hold onto to keep you in position. this exercise is great to perform if you are not able to get to the gym as you can perform this at home without any additional equipment.
This rotation exercise is great for building all round core strength. To perform this exercise you will need a cable pulley machine that is raised to the top slot or bottom slot. Stand slightly away from the machine, facing forward and grab the handle with both of your hands. Keep your arms extended and pull the handle across your body, and to the other side. your knees will also bend slightly during the rep. It is best to start this on a lower weight to ensure full control. If you have little control and the machine is pulling you back, you will be wasting part of the rep.
There are many different crunches you can perform when training abs; my favourite is the crossover crunch. To perform this you need to lay down flat, with you knees up as you would a normal crunch or sit-up. Place your hands on the back of your head. Next raise one side of your upper body and the opposite knee until they touch. For example raise your right elbow and left knee should touch. rotate this with alternate sides after each other. I like to perform this with high rep ranges on each set.
The heel touch exercise focuses on the top of your abs and your obliques. You can perform this at a gym or at home without any extra equipment needed. Start off by getting in the sit-up position with your knees up and your back against the floor. Now raise your upper core with your arms out straight. Touch each heel one at a time with your arm and ensuring your upper core is slightly raised. This keeps the tension on your upper core and also works the muscles on the side of your abdominals.
Medicine Ball Rotation
This exercise requires the use of a medicine ball so you will probably be restricted to the gym when performing this one. Get in the sit with your knees bent and core raised from the ground. Use both hands to hold the medicine ball raise from your core. Now move the medicine ball from each side of your body. You should feel the constant tension on your abs as you rotate position whilst holding the medicine ball above you.
Standing Cable Crunch
This is a nice workout to target your upper abs whilst you are in the gym. You first need a cable pulley machine with the rope attached to it on the upper position. Stand with your back to the machine and hold the rope in each hand on each side of your head. Whilst holding the rope, crunch down with your torso. This exercise focuses on the upper abs and can easily be adjusted as they become stronger. I usually perform sets of eight on this exercise.
The negative crunch is similar to performing a normal crunch put puts the emphasis on the negative motion when coming back down. You will probably need something to put your feet under to keep your body stable whilst performing this exercise. A weight is fine for this. Extend your arms out straight in front of you. Lower your upper body to it reaches near a 45 degree and to the floor and then raise it back up again.
Tips on making abdominals stand-out
- Treat your abdominals as you would any other muscle. Stop working them everyday with the same repetitive exercise, this is not going to encourage them to go. Instead, work them several times a week and focus on increasing the weight and the intensity
- Compound full body workouts will help burn fat. To get your abdominal muscles to show you need to get rid of the fat that is covering them. Big compound exercises increase the amount of calories you burn for hours after your workout as your body repairs damaged muscles.
- HIIT cardio is great for loosing fat and maintaining muscle. Try adding some HIIT cardio into your training session. HIIT does not need to be done for long periods and is great to ensure you are not burning muscle.
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