No matter if you already have a six-pack or rolling with a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little better. Not to mention that having a strong core is incredibly important to your overall, strength, balance, and stability. Having a strong core will also help protect you from injuries.
Contrary to popular belief, the core doesn’t just include the abdominal muscles. It also consists of muscles in your back and around your pelvis.
Your core includes:
● Erector spinae.
The erector spinae is a back muscle that extends your trunk. It helps you stand up straight after bending over.
● Rectus abdominis.
When you bend forward, you use an abdominal muscle called the rectus abdominis. It’s known as the “six-pack” muscle.
Your internal oblique and external oblique let you rotate or bend your trunk.
● Transverse abdominis.
The transverse abdominis, which wraps around the front and side of your trunk, stabilizes your pelvis.
The multifidus in your back supports your spine.
Keeping these five muscles strong helps stabilize your body, support your spine, and enhance your overall fitness.
Check out these 3 top exercises guaranteed to strengthen your core:
The plank is a full-body exercise that targets your core. It also strengthens your arms, shoulders, back, glutes, and legs. Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.
Get down into a push-up position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lockout your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.
For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front of you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders
To target your obliques even harder, try the side plank as well.
Flutter Kicks, Scissor Kicks, and Bicycle Kicks all target the lower abdomen.
The lower abs are often a problem area for a lot of people.
Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides, or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.
Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat.
Lie on your back, fully extend the legs. your entire body should be parallel to the ground. Place arms above the head or off to the side for added stability. Slowly bring the left leg toward the chest, bending at the knee as it comes to the chest. Bring it as close as it will go.
When the left leg is at the chest, bring the right leg, bending at the knee, toward the chest while at the same time, extending the left leg back to its straight position. (Note: To put more emphasis on the obliques, one may bring the torso up (with the hands behind the head), and twist the torso so one's elbow meets the opposite knee as it comes towards the chest.)
Do not allow the legs to touch the ground at the bottom (keep them 2-6 inches above the ground). Hold the lowered position for 1-2 seconds before alternating to the other leg.
It's easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.
You can’t see this muscle through the skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your stomach in tight to your spine. To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.
Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine. You'll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest, and then repeat.
The Bottom Line
The best way to accomplish rocking six-pack abs is having a low body fat percentage. This is best accomplished with proper nutrition and exercising routine. However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently. If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well.