While some guys seem to fruit a half-opened durian on their torso effortlessly, I’ve been trying to hatch a tray of eggs for abs for God knows how long. I did sit-ups until sacral rug burns make me yelp in the showers, tried ridiculously expensive treatments that were unsustainable, and did time with dieting. Nothing got me where I wanted to be with my abs.
Now that the middle-age bulge has set in, it’s even harder to chase that washboard dream. Since starting my personal training (PT) with Roy from SAFRA EnergyOne gym, my fire to sear off the belly fat for a lean torso has been reignited. He assured me that with the right exercises, a low-carb (no yellow noodles at all cost!) high protein diet and consistent training, I can get abs that will be my own envy.
To tease those abs muscles out from my stubborn blubber, we start every PT session with a set of core exercises and I’ll be sharing them in a series of 3 posts. Each post will feature 3 exercises that target a specific abs area – overall abs, lower abs, and obliques.
The exercises can be combined and mixed to keep each routine fresh and prevent the muscles from getting used to one exercise that’s been repeated all the time. That is, in each session, you can do an overall abs exercise followed by a lower abs exercise, then exercises for the obliques. That’s considered 1 set. Do 3 sets per session.
In this first part of the 3-posts series on abs exercises, we’ll start with 3 moves to work the whole abdominal area. They are not the only exercises to give the general abs a good workout but they are alternatives to the usual sit-up and crunches.
1. Stability Ball Transfer (10 reps)
To make it simpler to understand how an exercise is done, I’ve animated the sequence of movements.
Of all the abs exercises, the Stability Ball Transfer is possible the most ‘showy’ because it involves transferring a huge ball between the feet and the hands.
The animation shows how the Stability Ball Transfer is done. Start with the ball sandwiched between your feet, pull your lower and upper abs upwards to form a ‘V’ and transfer the ball to the hands and then pass the ball back to your feet. That’s considered 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
When doing this exercise, don’t let your feet and hands touch the ground throughout the 10 reps and suck in your gut while doing the exercise for more oomph!
2. Plank (hold for 40 seconds)
The plank looks deceivingly simple but when done correctly, it is no walk in the park. And there are great benefits for turning your body into a bench. This exercise helps to strengthen overall core muscles, trim the tummy and helps in developing a better standing and sitting posture.
When doing the plank, note that your shoulders should be directly above your elbows. My alignment is slightly off in the photo above to show you the incorrect way it is done. Try to maintain a straight line with your back and do not hunch your butt up or sink your pelvis down. Look slightly ahead.
To really get the most out of doing the Plank, HOLD IN YOUR CHOCOLATE STARFISH (ANUS) AND SQUEEZE YOUR BUTT! Hold the position for 40 – 60 seconds.
3. Leg Raise and Crunch
Talk about killing two birds with one stone. This offspring from the marriage of the crunch and leg raise packs double the punch to build core muscles was well as balancing muscles.
The exercise is done by lying on the floor with the feet slightly off the ground and hands behind the ears. Using the abs muscles, pull in the legs and pull up the upper body to form a ‘V’. In the ‘V’ position, straighten the legs, then lower the body. That’s considered 1 rep. Do 10 reps and progressively increase to 20 reps.
After doing one of the 3 overall abs exercises to warm up the core muscles, follow with a lower abs exercise and an obliques exercise. Will share more about those exercises in upcoming posts. So stay tuned!