Back in the day when physical magazines were popular, many companies published competing health and fitness covers that would appear on your newsstand. Even though the pretense of these magazines was to pass along fitness tips, and maybe an interview with a celebrity with a great body, there was definitely ONE overriding idea: ab tips sell!
Whether it’s through exercise, diet, or a combination of both, the idea of getting an elusive “six pack” has been marketed for decades. There’s a reason for that: great abs are sexy and are difficult to come by. The abdominal muscles need to be isolated to be trained properly, and there are some bad techniques people have used in search for great abs.
We’ll get to those later. As a reminder, Part 1 of “Ultimate At Home…” – found by clicking here – dealt with home workouts for the rest of your body. For now, the core only!
Here’s a diagram of 8 exercises that the Allwell community endorses:
Most of these exercises are pretty straightforward. If you combine them with proper eating habits (see the Nutrition tab on the Allwell App) you will see results! Here are a few additional tips for correct execution of some core workouts that may be new to you:
On Crunch Diagonals: Concentrate on slowly guiding the opposite elbow to the knee. Only raise that shoulder, the other one should remain flat. Also, try to hold the head in extension to the spine.
On Bicycle Leaning: This hits your front abs and obliques real nice. Just shift from one leg to the other as you go, like you’re on a bicycle. Keep your shoulders lifted on the floor, without pulling your neck.
My personal advice on this exercise: don’t give up if – like me – you’re a bit of a klutz. It requires repetition and coordination that will occur over time. Of all the workouts, this is the one to video yourself on your phone doing, see where your technique is off, and improve it next time. The results are worth it!
On Mountain Climbers: This adds a cardio element to your ab workout, which gets your heart pumping and will make you break a sweat. The most common mistake doing the mountain climber is when your butt rises higher than your shoulders due to fatigue. Keep your butt down! If you can’t, stop doing reps, take a short break, and get back to it!
While we’re at it – here are 3 popular ab exercises that we believe are not worth your valuable time. We’ll briefly explain why:
The Ab Rocker
You’ll see these often in the corner of a friend’s basement/home gym collecting dust. Pro tip: let the roller stay there and dust accumulate. Yes, “ab rocks” are super easy to do, but that’s why they don’t work. By supporting your head, this tool actually de-activates the muscles in your head that would support it. This can lead to neck pain as your supporting muscles weaken.
The Straight Leg Sit-Up
I did these as a kid in gym class who didn’t know any better. This exercise puts a huge strain on your lower back by making you hurl your upper body forward in an effort to touch your toes. It doesn’t isolate the abdominals in any effective way, and you’re likely to end up with neck and back pain.
The Standing Dumbbell Side Bend
This is another popular, yet bad, exercise. Everyone wants to get rid of “love handles” but this is not the way to tighten your obliques. This is an unnatural movement which puts strain on your back. Think about it: how often do you bend straight to the side to pick something up?
– Johnny Premier, COO of Allwell