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So… you want amazing abs?

By Patrick Drew, updated January, 2014

male modelWhen people talk about their ideal physiques, almost every single physique on their list has a six pack that you could grate cheese on. Six packs and just great abs in general, are considered to be the be all and end all of great physical shape. So… if you want the body of a Greek God(dess) and if you want a set of abs to be proud of, you need to so some serious hard work! Here are some of the best exercises you can possibly do.

So… if you want the body of a Greek God(dess) and if you want a set of abs to be proud of…

Crunches — These should be at the base of all abdominal exercise routines. If you want some ultimate ab exercise routines, then these are important. Lie on the floor on your back. Raise your knees so that the heels of your feet are close to your butt. Put your fingers just behind your ears and slowly contract your abdominal muscles as you pull your nose towards your knees. Focus on really feeling the abdominal muscles contracting and SQUEEZING the muscles tight as you slowly raise your upper body. Raise up to about 30 degrees, slowly for about 2 — 3 seconds, hold for one second then slowly lower 2 — 3 seconds. Do till failure and the burn will be intense!

Sit-ups — Sit-ups are very much like crunches, but they differ in that you raise yourself the entire way to your knees. In this manner you also engage a number of the core muscles and the stabilizer muscles such as the tibialis anterior. They effectively help train you to a stronger core — but about 70% of the exercise is not actually the abdominals working.

Focus on really feeling the abdominal muscles contracting and SQUEEZING the muscles tight…

Bicycle crunches — Not surprisingly, these exercises work by actually mimicking the same actions as riding a bicycle, without the actual bicycle itself of course. If you're looking to work your abs especially hard, then this is one of the best exercises for the job. It's a fantastic bodyweight and resistance-based exercise that can be performed quickly, almost anywhere. To perform this exercise, simply lay down flat on the floor on your back and place your hands behind your head. Make sure that you don't lock your fingers, because your head needs to remain loose. Next, slowly raise the blades of your shoulders, as if you were performing a normal crunch. You next need to lift up your knees so that they are bent. To begin the exercise, begin to pedal your legs, as if you're riding an imaginary bicycle. Touch each knee to each opposite elbow as you do. So, right knee left elbow, left knee right elbow. Keep going to failure.

Leg raises

Leg raises — If you want to strengthen your core, then leg raises are simply a fantastic exercise to help you do so. Vertical leg raises in particular, are great for hitting the lower abdominal muscles, which can be quite tricky to train ordinarily. To perform a set of leg raises, simply lay flat on your back, with your legs perfectly straight. Next, bend your knees ever so slightly, and lift your legs up in the air so that they make a 90-degree right angle. Slowly lower them back down to the floor, but stop them around half an inch from touching the floor and raise them upwards again; then repeat the process over and over again. These are excellent for targeting the lower abs.

If you want to strengthen your core, then leg raises are simply a fantastic exercise to help you do so.

Clothespins — These exercises are simply amazing for strengthening your entire core. They use the entire motion of your full body and are relatively easy to perform, assuming that your core is pretty strong to begin with, otherwise you may struggle. To perform these exercises, simply start by laying down with your legs straight. Next, you need to sit up so that you're semi seated, with your abs contracted. You next need to lift up your legs to a 45-degree angle, and then try to reach and touch your shins. You next need to try to hold this position whilst contracting and tensing your abdominal muscles, for as long as possible. When it begins to hurt or feel uncomfortable, carefully return back to the original starting position, catch your breath, and start all over again.

the plank

The Plank — In the last number of years there has been a fitness fashion frenzy about the benefits of planking! And indeed — doing the Plank is an excellent ab exercise to work your core and abdominal muscles! You start off on your hands and knees on the floor — go down so that you are resting on your forearms, remember to have your elbows slightly wider than your shoulders, hands open and almost meeting under your head, as you extend your legs straight so your entire body is supported just by your toes and forearms. Hold this position, and remember to focus on contracting the abdominal muscles and going for a very slight bend in your body. If you want to make things more fun… go back up onto your hands and "walk" around the room — while in this position! So you cross your hands and feet at the same time (or alternatively for fun) and "scuttle" around the room — all the while maintaining your position and focusing on the contraction in your abs.

…remember to have your elbows slightly wider than your shoulders, hands open and almost meeting under your head…

The Tummy Burner — is a knick-name I have given this particular exercise, due the fact that you always end up with an amazing burn in your abs! You start off lying on your back, then you raise your legs straight, toes pointed forwards, to about 45 degrees – just like in the "Clothespins" Hold them there! Then you raise your shoulders off the floor, while looking towards your navel and holding your arms straight, parallel to the floor, so your fingers are just slightly past your butt. This is your starting position, you then crunch a bit more so that your fingers can move along the floor about 5cm further, then return to this position. Remember, slowly and with better form is better than higher reps and quicker!

A Crazy alternative — is to hang upside down from something and do crunches / sit-ups to failure. This will use gravity as resistance and will work your abs in a different manner — not to mention giving your legs and hamstrings a good workout also!

hanging crunch


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