You’ve enjoyed the festive period. You’ve probably eaten too much, drunk too much and enjoyed yourself a bit too much. And that’s okay! There’s no better time to enjoy yourself with friends and family than the festive period, but now it’s time to put that behind you and focus on your training and fitness aims in 2017.
Having a toned, flat stomach is an ambition of every women who goes to the gym and trains regularly. But what about going one step further than just having a flat stomach. What about having abs? You might not know how to go about training for abs at the moment, but by the end of this article you’ll know exactly what you need to do!
How To Train For Abs
Firstly, you need to know how often to train abs and how long your training session needs to be to stimulate your abs muscles.
It is a common misconception that if you want abs you have to dedicate a whole gym session to working them. Your abs can be stimulated sufficiently in just 20-30 minutes high intensity training.
This means you can add ab training on to the end of your workouts 2/3 times a week and this will be sufficient to stimulate abdominal growth, providing you train with enough intensity and are performing the right exercises with the correct form.
The Best Ab Exercises
1. Abdominal Crunch
This is the staple ab exercise and for good reason. This exercise is a great way to stimulate your core muscles and get those abs burning. Lie on your back on a workout mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Do not hold your hands behind your neck as this can lead to injury through pulling on your neck as you rise up.
It is better to touch the side of your head with your hands to avoid dragging on your neck. To perform a crunch tense your abs and use them to raise your upper body off the ground. Hold the squeeze for a second and then release back to the starting position.
Sets 4, 8-15 reps
2. Jack Knife Sit Ups
Lie on a mat and make sure you have plenty of space to fully stretch your body out, legs and arms and all! In the image our athlete is using a medicine ball to increase the difficulty level, but this exercise can be performed without holding anything until you build up the strength to add a medicine ball or dumbbell to add resistance.
Whilst lying on your back the idea is to raise your legs and arms simultaneously to bring them together. Really focus on squeezing an engaging your core, making sure that it is your abs driving your legs and body up and together.
Sets 4, 8-12 reps
3. Russian Twist
If you used a medicine ball for your Jack Knife’s I hope you kept hold of it because now it is time for Russian Twists. Sitting on your bum lift your legs up from the floor and cross them. Do not let your legs touch the floor throughout this exercise, as this will maintain tension through your abs.
Hold a medicine ball or dumbbell and move it from one side of your body to the other to engage your core. Aim to pause on each side before bringing the medicine ball or dumbbell across to the other side of your body.
Sets 4, 8-12 reps on each side
4. Lying Leg Raise
Lie on your back with your arms by your side. Straighten your legs and then raise them up into the air, trying to keep your legs straight. Then lower your legs back towards the floor keeping them straight on the decline.
There are some important top tips to maximize the benefit of this exercise:
✓ Slow & Controlled – on the decline make sure you lower your legs slowly to maintain tension throughout your abs
✓ Don’t Let Your Feet Touch The Floor – to maintain tension through your abs when you lower your legs don’t let them touch the floor at the bottom of the movement. Hold your feet 1 cm above the floor before driving them back up to complete another repetition. If you rest your feet on the floor you will release the tension on your abs.
4 sets, 8-12 reps
5. The Plank
This is the perfect finisher to any ab workout and is a great test of core strength. Place your forearms on the floor, extend your legs and push up on your toes to get in the plank position. Make sure you keep your back straight and hold this position.
Your ability to hold the plank may vary, but if you do this exercise on a consistent basis you can increase the number of seconds you can hold the plank for considerably! If you work towards being able to do over 2 minutes you’ll be well on your way to improving your core strength and developing abs.
Take Home Message
After reading this article you should have a good idea of some of the exercises you can do to start stimulating ab growth and development. Let’s get that toned stomach you’ve always wanted and get that summer bikini body ready now. Remember, summer body’s are made in the winter!