Getting the six-pack you dream about is not only about doing more and more crunches. To best work your abdominal muscles, you need to work your muscles from all angles. The best way to do this is with core moves that work a variety of muscles within one single exercise. You might think of it like multi-tasking your muscles. Besides giving your abs a complete workout, you will find that you also raise your heart rate which means you are also burning some extra calories.
These moves are best performed following a warm-up (light cardio, at minimum), your regular cardio session, or strength-training workout. Aim to complete the core workout anywhere from 3 to 4 times per week. This is not a rigid program, though. If you can do all of the moves in one workout—do it! If not, pick a few and blend it into your regular exercise program, or pick a few to do each time. Something is always better than nothing.
Core Move #1: Twisting Side Plank
Planks are one of the best exercises to strengthen your core. For the twisting side plank, come into a plank on your side with your feet stacked on top of one another. Your right elbow should be on the ground with your left elbow bent upward, as pictured in the image below. Slowly bend your left elbow down toward the floor, then raise slowly to starting position.
For beginners, you may lower your left knee to the floor to make it less difficult until you can stack both feet. Push yourself, but listen to your body. This is a challenging move.
Core Move #2: Reverse Tabletop (or Plank) With Leg Kick
Start in the sitting position with your legs straight. Place your hands behind you, with your fingertips facing your feet. Slowly lift your tush while firmly pressing your feet to the ground. Lift your tush until your body feels as if it is parallel to the ground. Lift your right leg, then alternate by lifting your left leg. That is one repetition. Repeat until you complete the set.
If this is too difficult, you may start by doing the exercise on your elbows. This is also a good option for anyone with carpal tunnel, or if your wrist starts to bother you. This is a great workout for not only your abs, but also your legs and shoulders.
Core Move #3: Swiss Ball Stir the Pot
This is an excellent core move since it works all of your abs from every angle. Start by leaning onto your ball in a plank position, resting on your elbows while ensuring your arms are bent at a 90° angle. Keep your core strong. Now, slowly move your forearms in small circles. The rest of your body should not move. After 8-15 repetitions, reverse to the other direction. You may also do the circular motion for a certain period of time, then reverse. Whatever you choose, one set is completion of both sides.
Core Move #4: Scissor Kick
This is an excellent move for your lower abs. Lie on your back with your legs out straight, as you see in the first image below. Your arms should be resting on the floor next to you with your palms facing down. Lift your legs so that your feet are approximately 6 inches off the floor. Now, alternate lowering each leg (right, then left). Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. Your feet should not touch the floor at any point during the set. However, this move is not as easy as it looks, so work up to it, listen to your body and rest as needed.
Core Move #5: Planking Frog Legs
Planking “frog legs” is simply a variation of the classic plank position. Get into a plank position, then bring your right knee up toward your elbow (touching if you are able to). Alternate with your left knee to complete one repetition. This move works not only your abs with additional attention to your oblique muscles.