Our abdominal muscles are made up of six individual muscles which literally wrap around our torsos like a corset (starting from around the rib area and extending as far down as the pelvis). Abdominal (ab) exercises are designed to strengthen, tighten and lengthen these vital muscles.
Physically, ab exercises help improve posture by strengthening the ab muscles, close to the spine, which help support the back and hence improve posture.
Superficially, ab exercises give us the appearance of a small waist and 6-pack abs. Like pulling tight the strings of a corset, ab exercises tighten the abdominal muscles (which often lose their definition due to age, inactivity, pregnancy, etc) and hence give us the appearance of a small waist. Likewise, if the surface ab muscle, the rectus abdominus, is worked to excess, individuals with very low body fat percentages attain the look of 6-pack abs.
Strong abdominal muscles also provide some support to our back and neck muscles. Hence, by strengthening our abdominal muscles we can relieve lower back and neck pain.
Note: You can find a printable version of this workout HERE
Though The Plank looks like an easy ab exercise, it is a notoriously difficult ab exercise which can help strengthen your entire body. The Plank works its magic by placing stress on your core muscles. This stationary resistance can help you get past fitness plateaus and improve energy transference between your upper and lower body.
The Butterfly Crunch is a variation of the common crunch. But, what makes the Butterfly Crunch unique is the fact that it targets the upper abs, exclusively.
Vertical Leg Crunches
The Vertical Leg Crunch is a highly effective ab exercise because it helps target both your lower and upper abdominal muscles.
Incorporating bicycle crunches into your abdominal workout routine will put you on the fast track to obtaining the flat belly of your dreams. This ab exercise works by targeting your entire core, including the rectus abdominus muscles, transverse abdominus muscles and oblique muscles (side abdominal muscles) which work together to pull your waist in from the inside, much like a corset. As an added bonus this ab exercise also works your butt and thigh muscles, much like cycling.
This amazing ab exercise is the perfect multifunctional exercise. The Side Plank targets your abdominal muscles, including obliques (side abdominal muscles), as well as your butt, thighs and hamstrings. The Side Plank exercise will also help increase your overall core strength and stability, which translates into a stronger back, better posture and minimal lower back pain.
Though they look simple and thus ineffective, Side Crunches are a deceptively difficult ab exercise that work miracles when it comes to helping you get rid of love handles. Side Crunches work their magic by engaging your obliques (side abdominal muscles) by forcing them to support your weight while you move up and down.
Leg Lifts Ab Exercise
Leg Lifts work your entire lower body. This amazing ab exercise targets your entire core muscles (abdominals, hip flexors, back muscles) as well as your leg muscles including your thighs and hamstrings. In fact, Leg lifts is such an effective ab exercise that it is often used to help rehabilitate injured athletes.
Yoga Boat Pose
One look at this Yoga position and you know it works! This basic Yoga pose helps strengthen the abdominal muscles as well as your hip flexors and lower back muscles. In fact, this low-impact ab exercise is so effective that it can help strengthen your entire core in just two minutes a day! (Hold this pose for 1 minute in the morning and 1 minute at night)
The Bridge is a highly effective, low-impact ab exercise that you can do multiple times a day to help tone your abdominal, butt, and hamstring muscles. It can also help strengthen your lower back and improve your posture. In fact, this ab exercise is so effective that it is often used as a basic rehab exercise for those suffering from abdominal and spinal injuries.
Superman: Lower Back Exercise
The Superman: lower back exercise is one of my favorite core exercises. The Superman exercise (or Superwoman) will firm up your butt, lower back, shoulders, and hamstrings while giving your abs a deep stretch. I love this exercise because I used to have a great deal of lower back pain due to my sedentary job. But, all that pain disappeared when I discovered this lower back exercise.
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