These five advanced ab exercises are designed to strengthen your core from every angle. Four of these core exercises involve some sort of plank variation, because planks are a really effective ab exercise to activate your entire core.
Add these five advanced ab exercises onto any strength training workout. I suggest doing this intense core workout 1-3 times a week.
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Why Is A Strong Core Important?
A strong core is important for so many reasons. According to Mayo Clinic, a strong core is tied to improved balance and stability, improved posture, reduced risk of lower back pain, and reduced risk of injuries (especially from activities that involve core rotation).
Are Planks Good For Abs?
The plank is one of the best ab exercises you can do at home. It works ALL of the core muscles that run from the pelvis along the spine and up to the shoulder girdle, including: upper rectus abdominis (the upper abs), lower rectus abdominis (the lower abs), internal obliques and external obliques (side abs, along the sides of your body), transverse abdominis (your deepest core muscles). Planks are essential to building a strong core!
Targets: Upper abs, lower abs, obliques, transverse abdomen (deep core muscles below your rectus abdomen or six pack ab muscles), hips and outer glutes.
Trainer Tip: This is one of my favorite ab exercises for runners to strengthen the core, hips and glutes!
How To Do A Hollow Rock Bicycle Crunch And Knee Press
Start lying on your back with your legs straight.
Contract your abs by pulling your hip bones together to activate your transverse abdominal muscles and lift your neck and shoulders off the mat. Then lift both legs off the mat (legs straight). This is your “hollow rock” position.
From this hollow rock position, pull your right knee towards your chest as you would for a bicycle crunch. Knees bent and feet flexed with right knee bent at 90 degrees.
Hold your right knee towards your chest and press your left hand firmly into your right knee. Try to keep your left leg extended straight. Note, the harder you press into your knee, the more difficult this ab exercise will be.
Hold the knee press for a 5-second count, then switch sides. Pulling your left knee towards your chest as you extend your right leg long. Then press your right hand firmly into your left knee.
Side Plank (Option To Add Side Oblique Crunch)
Targets: Internal and external oblique muscles (the muscles that run along the side of your core) and transverse abdominus.
How To Do A Side Plank Crunch
Start in side plank position. Right forearm on the mat, right shoulder stacked over right elbow. Option to balance on the outside edge of your right foot, stacking your left foot on top of your right foot, or stagger your feet.
Place your left hand behind your head or extend your left hand overhead. Option to hold this side plank position.
To add a side plank crunch, pull your outside, left knee up to meet your left elbow. Arm and leg meet as you squeeze your obliques (side abs).
Return to the starting position and repeat, switching sides on the next set.
Start in a low plank position or forearm plank. Shoulders over elbows, forearms resting on the mat, core engaged. Neutral spine.
Alternate reaching one arm straight in front of you. Fully extend your right arm and tap the mat in front of you, return to the starting position. Then fully extend your left arm and tap the mat in front of you.
Try to keep your hips stable and square to the mat as you alternate reaching your arms straight out. Keep your hips in line with the rest of your body to avoid sagging hips or piked hips.
Plank Walk Out
Targets: The entire core from head to toe including — deep transverse abs, upper abs, lower abs, side abs, shoulders, back, glutes and quads.
How To Do A Plank Walk Out
Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core engaged, pulling up on your kneecaps and pressing your heels towards the wall behind you. Creating a straight line with your body from head to heels.
Slowly start “walking” your hands out in front of you. The further you walk your hands out away from your body, the more difficult this advanced ab exercise becomes.
Once you’ve walked your hands as far away from your body as you can without dropping your hips, pause for a moment. Arms and legs extended long.
Then reverse the movement by walking your hands back to the high plank starting position.
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