Who doesn't want a six-pack? Having a tight, taut tummy is a very worthwhile goal, but what most people don't realize is that there are four different muscle groups that you need to work in order to pull it off! We're sorry to tell you, but crunches just won't cut it.
On the side of your abs are the external abdominal obliques and the internal abdominal obliques. The external obliques lie on top of everything and can be felt just under your arm. The internal obliques are deeper muscles. They are under the external obliques and help to stabilize your posture. The deepest muscles are known as the transversus abdominis. These muscles run horizontally along your middle. The muscle group that creates the six-pack look and steals all the glory is the rectus abdominis. They run from your sternum to your pelvis and help you flex your spine while walking.
To properly tone these muscles, you will need to engage in a range of moves. Carbon38 co-founder, Caroline Gogolak, is here to demonstrate the following 9 moves that will work your entire core, even those deep muscles you can't see, while NYC-based trainer, Joan Pagano, explains them. Have a look:
1. Roll Back
Sit up straight, with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Pull torso in close to thighs, reaching arms forward at shoulder level with palms down. Exhale, drawing navel toward spine as you roll back onto tailbone, curving spine into a "C" shape. Inhale and realign spine to straighten up.
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2. Twisting Roll Back
Internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis
With arms extended forward, perform a roll-back, curving spine into a "C". Twist torso to one side, bending one elbow and pulling it back at shoulder level while reaching other arm to opposite knee. Reach both arms forward and return to start. Repeat on the other side.
3. Sit-Ups with a Medicine Ball
Transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques
Personal trainer Jimmy Minardi says:
Hold a medicine ball over head, and recline all the way down. Lift from core back to a sitting position, keeping the ball over head. To make this more challenging, find a slant board at the gym, or buy one for around $50. Hook feet under the top of the board. The downhill slant and extra weight add an extra challenge to ab muscles. Increase the angle of the board and the weight of the ball for better results.
4. Kneeling Crunch
Rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques
Kneel with one arm stabilized directly under shoulder, reaching other arm forward at shoulder level and opposite leg back at hip height. Exhale, contract abs, and round back up to the ceiling while drawing elbow to knee, turning palm up. Repeat on the other side.
5. Dead Bug
Transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques
Lie on back with legs raised, knees bent over hips and calves parallel to the floor. Extend arms to the ceiling with palms forward, and pull abs tight, bringing navel to spine. Exhale, lowering opposite arm and leg toward the floor, bringing remaining knee in over chest. Keep low back connected to the floor at all times—don't arch. Repeat on the other side.
6. Lunge Split Jacks
Stand with feet in a staggered stance, left foot in front of right, two or three feet apart, then lower body into a split squat. Jump up and scissor-kick legs, landing with right leg forward. As soon as feet land, lower body into a split squat.
7. Toe Dip
Sit tall with both knees bent in front, feet flat on the floor. Lean back onto elbows with shoulder blades down and together. Tighten abs, sliding hands under lower back for support with palms facing down. Lift legs so that knees are bent over hips with calves parallel to the floor, inhaling and dipping toes to the mat while maintaining those right angles at the knees. Exhale, then return to start.
8. Bicycle Crunches
Internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis
Lie flat on the floor with lower back pressed to the ground; pull abs downward to target deep ab muscles. Interlace fingers and put hands behind head. Start by bringing knees in toward chest, lifting shoulder blades off the ground. Straighten right leg out to about a 45-degree angle from the ground while turning upper body to the left, bringing right elbow toward the left knee. Make sure rib cage is moving, not just elbows. Repeat on the other side. You should be creating a "pedaling" action; do this exercise with slow and controlled motion.
9. The "Jean-Zip"
You can do this move discreetly, at any time throughout the day. As if you were zipping up a tight pair of jeans, "scoop abs" by pulling navel in toward spine and then up, lifting the pelvic floor. This move engages those deep abdominal muscle to flatten the belly—it's the muscle that lies right under your zipper.
Great moves! Doesn't your core feel tighter just looking at them?
What are your favourite core exercises?
Take your core exercises to the next level. In Episode 5 of The DailyHiit Show
, Jacqui engages in slider push-ups that make your abs work! Check it out: