The core of the body encompasses more than just the abdominal wall. In order to get an effective abdominal workout, it is essential to engage the major muscles that make up the center of the body which range from the pelvic floor muscles, to the internal and external obliques.1. Planks
Planks challenge you to stabilize your entire core while stacking your hands beneath your shoulders and engaging the glutes as you lift your lower body off the floor.
It is essential to keep a slight bend at the knees so that the lower back is not compromised.
Side plank reach throughs are an effective way to work on balance while strengthening the shoulders and chest muscles as well. 2. In and outs
This exercise requires you to hollow out your body in a cradle position with the shoulders back and feet lifted from the floor, while holding a medicine ball for stability.
Bring your legs apart and then join the left foot with the right before spreading them again.
Pause in this position before completing the same movement on the other side.
It helps to use a fixed point for this movement, such as a structural beam, to maneuver the legs around.3. Kneeling ball slams
Use a mat to cushion the knees and choose a medicine ball with a moderate weight.
Twist to one side, raising the ball up over head and bring it across the body with force to the ground.
Pick the ball back up on the first bounce and twist to the other side, repeating this same motion.
This exercise engages the lower lats, pelvic floor, and oblique muscles, all which make up the core.4. Farmer’s carry
Farmer’s carries are typically known for their ability to strengthen the back and shoulders.
However, walking short distances while holding kettlebells or dumbbells at your side also engages the abdominal muscles.
The muscles that make up the core work to stabilize the body as you walk with weight loaded on either side.
Variations of this movement include front loading the kettlebells over the wrists or upturning one at a time to focus on holding the weight steady while forging forward.5. Bicycle crunches
Bicycle crunches engage the hip flexor muscles, abdominal wall, obliques, and pelvic floor muscles.
This exercise requires you to lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Bring the hands behind the head to support the neck.
Once this position has been assumed, raise the feet so that the knees are pointed at the wall behind you and the leg bends at a 90-degree angle.
Bring one elbow to meet the opposite knee as you extend your other leg outward, hovering it slightly above the floor.
Hold this position for a moment before slowly bringing the extended leg back towards the front of the body and alternating to the other side.
Be sure to actively engage and stabilize your core muscles during each of these movements to effectively strengthen and sculpt the abdominals.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris– https://dearfitkris.com/