5 Full-Body Exercises That Build Firm Abs

A flat, firm stomach has become the hallmark of fitness. But on your journey to that six-pack, you’ve probably exhausted every variation of the basic crunch and tried every ab machine and gadget in the gym. While ab rollers and stability balls can help sculpt your midsection, you’ll see better results when you engage your entire body.

Fit Woman Doing Plank on White Exercise Ball – 1 of 5 Exercises for Abs You Should Add to Your Ab Workout Routine | Vitacost.com/blog

How do you get sculpted abs?

If you’ve mastered crunches, you know they work the rectus abdominis and possibly the obliques. But to really hit the muscles deep within your core – the transverse abdominis – you need to improve stabilization by recruiting those deeper muscle fibers.

As for frequency, your abs should be trained on a regular basis just like any other muscle group. They can actually tolerate training three to four times per week. Some people are under the belief that abs should be trained daily for best results, but don’t get swayed by this fitness myth. If you hit those abs hard enough, you want to give them some time between sessions for rest and recovery. And remember, you’ll still be working them whenever you’re doing other heavy lifts such as squats, deadlifts or bent over rows. So they’ll be getting worked indirectly on those days, as well.

What are the best exercises for abs?

 Remember, it’s important to recruit those deep muscles, which you’ll quickly stimulate with these five full-body exercises.

#1 Front plank hold on a stability ball

How to perform a plank hold on an exercise ball:

Starting position: Grab an exercise ball and steady it on the floor. Place your forearms on the ball, while balancing on your toes with legs extended behind you.

  1. Hold this position for the set duration of time, making sure not to let your hips drop or rise up.

Note: if this variation is too challenging, you can perform it with your feet up on the exercise ball, while balancing on your forearms on the floor.

#2 Walking lunges with a twist

How to perform walking lunges with a twist:

Starting position: Stand in an upright position, holding one dumbbell with both hands. Keep dumbbell close to the body at chest-height with elbows bent 90 degrees.

  1. Take one step forward a few feet, and then begin to bend the knees as you lunge downward. As you do this, twist the dumbbell to the side that has the foot in front.
  2. Once fully in a lunge, press back up to the standing position and return the upper body to center.
  3. Step forward with the next foot and twist to the opposite side, doing this all in one smooth motion.
  4. Continue until all reps are complete.

#3 Prone pikes on a stability ball

How to perform prone pikes on a stability ball:

Starting position: Place an exercise ball on the ground. Position your feet on top of the ball, balancing with your hands on the floor. The body should be in a flat, strong plank position here.

  1. Contract the abs. Keeping your arms straight, pull the ball toward your chest.
  2. Your body should form an inverted V.
  3. Once contracted as far as you can go, hold and then move down to the starting position to complete the rep.

#4 Mountain climbers

How to perform mountain climbers:

Starting position: From a kneeling position, place your hands on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Extend your legs out behind you and balance on your toes, so you’re in the same position you would be if you were to begin a push-up.

  1. Drive one knee towards the chest, quickly returning it to the starting position.
  2. As soon as it’s landed on the ground, drive the opposite knee into the body.
  3. Your hips should stay level throughout the whole movement, do not let them lift too high into a peak. This will help activate more of the core.
  4. As you become more proficient with this exercise, you can alternate between legs faster, like you’re running.
  5. Continue alternating legs until all reps are complete.

#5 Dumbbell renegade row

How to perform a dumbbell renegade row:

Starting position: Place two dumbbells on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Get into a push-up position with one hand on either dumbbell.

  1. Keeping core tight, row a dumbbell directly up and toward your armpits.
  2. Once as high as you can go, pause and then lower down to complete the rep.
  3. Perform all reps on one side before switching sides and completing all reps.

Your 5-exercise ab workout routine:

By doing these exercises either entirely on their own or along with crunches, you can see remarkable progress with your abdominal strength and appearance. And now that you know how to execute them properly, you’re ready for your new ab workout routine.

After each exercise, rest for 20 seconds before moving to the next. Once the entire circuit is complete, rest for 1 minute and then repeat a second and third time.

Front plank hold on stability ball – 1 minute
Walking lunges with a twist – 20 reps (10 reps/side)
Prone pikes on stability ball – 15 reps
Mountain climbers – 30 reps total
Dumbbell renegade row – 10 reps/side

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