There’s no muscle group more difficult to workout than abdominal s. If you’re a seasoned gym goer, then there’s no doubt that you already know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into working your abs. If you’re new to the gym game, well, here’s a hint: if you’ve been doing crunches all day in the hopes of getting your abs sculpted, we’ve got bad news for you – they won’t help much.
But we digress. The truth of the matter is that six-pack abs aren’t the end all and be all of a strong core. It’s about working the full range of your abdominal s and even engaging your lower back and posterior chain. If you’re new to working out and want more than just the typical sit ups to engage your core, check out some of our go-to ab exercises for beginners below.
Yes, we know, this exercise sounds weird, but boy will this exercise get your core burning. This exercise in particular is fantastic for beginners because it teaches you how to activate your core. To start, get on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your hips in line with your knees.
From here, extend your right arm out straight in front of you at shoulder length while lifting your left leg and extending it straight back at the same time. With your body in a straight line, crunch your left leg forward and your right elbow back until both points touch under your stomach. Extend your arm and leg back out again then repeat it on your other side. If you’re not able to keep your body stable while performing the exercise, leave the crunch out.
Seated Leg Lifts
Get more bang for your buck with seated leg lifts, which target not just your abdominals but your hamstrings too. A lot of people tend to scoff at this one, thinking it’s so simple and easy, but trust us when we tell you that even advanced gym goers will feel a pretty good burn after a couple of repetitions.
To start, take a seat on the floor with your legs extended in a straight line in front of you. With your core engaged, lean back slightly and plant your hands at either side of your hips. Inhale and lift one leg half a foot off the ground. Hold that for up to 5 seconds before releasing the hold and repeating the movement with your other leg. If you need a modification to make it a bit more manageable, skip the 5-second hold.
Spider Plank Crunch
Target your lower abs and your glutes at the same time with Spider Plank Crunches. Not only is this exercise a great challenge for beginners to take on, it’ll also have you feeling a wee bit like Spiderman. To start this exercise, drop into plank position with your feet a shoulder-width apart. Make sure your hands are firmly planted directly below your shoulders and that your core stays engaged. Once you have your body in a straight line, lift your right leg and draw your knee towards your right elbow.
Return your leg to plank position and repeat the movement with your left leg. This completes one rep. Try to do as many reps as you can in a minute without sacrificing your form. It this is too advanced for you, holding your plank for 30 seconds is a great ab exercise in and of itself. For those of you who are dealing with problems in your wrists, it’s best to perform your planks on your elbows.
Standing Bicycle Crunch
Get some rotational movement into your work out while targeting your obliques when you try your hand at standing bicycle crunches. Stand up straight with your feet apart at hip-width. Place your hands behind your head and keep your core engaged. Make sure to relax your shoulders and keep your back straight as well. Once in the proper starting position, lift your right leg and simultaneously lower your left leg while lifting your right knee towards each other.
Return to your starting position before performing the same move on the opposite side. Now, some people find that lowering their upper body down at the same time is too difficult to start off. If this is the case for you, forego this movement and lift your knee to your chest instead. Be sure to keep your upper body stable while you perform the exercise.
We know, we know. Glute bridges don’t sound like an exercise for the abs due to the very fact that it has the word “glute” in it, but glute bridges are actually a very effective core work out because it necessitates both muscle groups working together in a co-dependent fashion. Glute bridges makes your core, hamstrings and glutes work together to support your weight, thus helping beginners build strength in their posterior chain.
To start, lie flat on your back with your knees bent. With your core engaged, push your knees forward and drive your hips up, using your hands to keep your body stable. Stay in this position for up to 2 seconds, giving your abs and glutes a good squeeze at the same, before releasing it and returning to your starting position. You can do this exercise a daily warm up, especially when you’re working on your lower abs, or add weights to the exercise for a gnarly addition to a total abdominal work out.
Remember, when you’re just starting out with your ab exercises, you don’t have to make your workouts too complicated. What’s important is taking a well-rounded approach to training your abs by hitting the upper, lower and oblique abdominals. If you find these workouts tough, don’t sweat it (no pun intended), just push through and continue to persevere. Take it slow and lay a solid foundation to your ab workouts and you’ll be enjoying great results and progressing to tougher workouts before you know it.