The quest for a washboard stomach doesn’t begin and end with abdominal workouts, but they are of paramount importance. The aim of this workout is to comprehensively train all the muscles of the core (alternating between upper and lower abs) to produce a a pefect chiselled six-pack.
Aim to perform this workout between 2-4 times per week, either as a ‘standalone’ session or bolted on to the end of your usual routine. With no rest in between moves, it should take you just 10 minutes to complete. Combined with a good diet and some quality fat-burning supplements, it will allow you to carve out your core in no time.
The long-arm crunch 12 reps
Reverse crunch 12 reps
Janda sit-up 12 reps
The Jacknife 12 reps
Extended plank 45 seconds
How to do it Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms straightened behind you. Then, keeping your arms straight above your head, perform a traditional crunch. The movement should be slow and controlled.
Why you should do it By extending your arms you add a longer ‘lever’ to the exercise, placing a greater strain on the upper region of the rectus abdominis.
How to do it Lie on your back and place your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest until they’re bent to 90 degrees, with feet together or crossed. Contract your abs to curl your hips off the floor, reaching your legs up towards the ceiling, then lower your legs back down to their original position without letting your feet touch the floor. This ensures your abs are continually activated.
The exercise should be slow and controlled, with no leg swinging or overuse of hip flexors. Pay particular attention to the downward phase – it’s tempting to let your legs drop, but they key is to maintain tension in the abdominals throughout the entire exercise.
Why you should do it Although it’s important to remember that your rectus abdominis is actually one long muscle that travels from your lower chest to your pelvis and that most abdominal specific exercises train the entire muscle, the reverse crunch will emphasise the lower part of the stomach muscle.
How to do it Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands placed behind your head. Then try ‘digging’ your heels into the floor, contracting your hamstrings, whilst performing an ordinary crunch.
Why you should do it The theory is that by contracting your hamstrings, you disengage your hip flexors, which in turn makes the muscles of the stomach work that much harder during the exercise.
How to do it Place a mat on the floor, lie down on your back and extend your arms above your head. Simultaneously lift your arms and legs toward the ceiling, until your fingertips touch your toes, then return to your starting position.
Why you should do it After specifically targeting (and pre-exhausting) the upper and lower regions of the rectus abdominis muscle, the jackknife exercise is a great way to comprehensively train the stomach muscles in their entirety in one exercise.
How to do it Get into a press-up position, placing your hands around 10 inches in front of your shoulders, with the toes of your shoes placed against the floor. Hold this position with your back straight and try to continue to breathe as normal.
Why you should do it Very similar to the traditional plank, this specifically trains the transverse abdominis muscle – the deepest layer of abdominal muscle which wraps around the whole midsection. By extending your hands past the shoulders you force the muscles involved in the plank to work over a larger (and more difficult) range of movement.