Many people aspire to well-developed abdominal muscles (or abs). The abs are the muscles around the belly and belly button and are the ones responsible for a “six-pack” or washboard stomach. People love to hate belly fat, and smooth or ripped “abs” show that it’s gone.
Three main things must happen to achieve toned abs:
- Build up those muscles
- Have genetics in your favor
- Lose belly fat
Appearance aside, anyone can benefit from having stronger abs, which can make everyday activities easier and help prevent back pain. Athletes need strength in the abdominals and the other core muscles to efficiently perform at their particular sport. Almost all athletics, from running to soccer, benefit from strong core muscles.
Exercises for Toned Abs
The first thing to know is that abdominal exercises alone won’t get rid of belly fat. You have to lose body fat all over to make your toned abs visible, and the best way to do that is with a proper diet and comprehensive fitness program. Attempting spot reduction in any body region is not effective.
Second, you don’t have to only do exercises that pointedly target the abdominal muscles. Many exercises are available that require you to contract the abs and work them strongly. Full-body, compound exercises like deadlifts and squats are good examples, and they are important exercises for all-around weight loss as well.
However, ab exercises can help flatten your belly somewhat by drawing in and giving definition to your ab muscles. And once you lose the belly fat, you’ll find you have that six-pack hiding underneath.
10 Key Exercises
To get you started, you can’t do better than these 10 exercises when focusing on the abs.
- Bent over rows: Use dumbbells for this exercise that works the back and the abs.
- Bicycle crunch: Research says this floor exercise is one of the best for the rectus abdominis muscle.
- Captain’s chair/hanging leg raises: Use the captain’s chair equipment or pull-up bar for an effective bodyweight exercise.
- Crunches: You can perform the crunch on an exercise ball or floor mat.
- Deadlifts: This barbell exercise enlists the abdominals to stabilize the body.
- Fitness ball rollouts: Use an exercise ball for this move that targets the rectus abdominis muscle.
- Seated cable rows: Sit tall, and your abs will get a workout stabilizing your body during this exercise.
- Sit-ups: Do sit-ups the right way to keep them safe. Instead of placing the hands behind the neck, cross them in front of you or slide them along the thighs to the knee. Bend the knees at a 45 degree angle.
- Squats: There are over a dozen variations of the squat. Mix them up in your routines to challenge your body in new ways.
- Wheel rollouts: You’ll need an ab roller to do this dynamic exercise, which works both the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis.
A Word From Verywell
It’s great to have a fitness goal to work towards, and many people, especially young athletes, can achieve an enviable midsection. However, in your quest for six-pack abs, don’t forget what’s most important: your physical fitness and health. Not everyone will attain flat or ripped abs, even if they are dedicated exercisers, but everyone can tone and strengthen their stomach muscles—and that’s always something to celebrate.
Author: Paul Rogers
Source: Very Well Fit: 10 Exercises for Toning the Abdominal Muscles