The core muscles are some of the most vital in our body, as they are integral to a lot of the movements we do everyday and can also help us improve our own fitness. It’s not just about six-pack abs. Strengthening your core means strengthening your other muscles, as well as improving your overall performance.
Improving your core strength can also better your posture and ease lower back pain. Focusing on your core is necessary to any fitness routine, because it also helps prevent injury, whether that’s from running or lifting. With a strong core, you will also see improvements to your balance and stability, increasing your overall quality of life. ZOZOFIT is here to break it all down for you with our extensive core workout guide below.
Choosing a Core Workout
With so many different core exercises, it can be hard to choose which ones will be most beneficial to you. It’s best to choose exercises that complement your other fitness activities — and that take a holistic approach to strengthening your core. Don’t focus all of your energy on six-pack abs, when your obliques need some attention, too.
ZOZOFIT’s 10 Best Ab Exercises
Crunches are a popular and classic ab exercise, and are often the better choice than their cousin the sit-up. This exercise flexes your rectus abdominis muscle and strengthening this muscle overtime will help stabilize your core.
In addition, this is a good exercise to do if you have trouble with other ab exercises due to back problems. Since it is a small movement (bringing your knees in and lifting your shoulders off the floor), the impact is minimal.
Bicycle crunches require laying down, and then holding your body in a crunch position while moving your legs as if pedaling a bicycle. The extra movement in these crunches offers more opportunity for strengthening and a focus on different muscle groups.
Planks are one the best ab exercises you can do because it requires engaging your entire core. You can do a traditional plank on your hands or your forearms, though if you are a beginner hands is the recommended stance.
When holding a plank, be sure to keep your body as straight as possible. If you are having trouble holding yourself up, you can modify the plan by putting your knees on the ground.
Start with 15-second planks and as your core strength improves hold the plan for longer.
Side planks are often more difficult than a traditional plank because it focuses on your core. From a traditional plank position, rotate your body out, leaving one hand/forearm on the ground and stacking your feet, toes pointed the same direction as your head.
Like with a traditional plank, side planks can be modified. For these, create a “kickstand” with your bottom leg by bending your knee and placing it on the ground. Improve your strength and remove the “kickstand” when you’re ready.
This challenging ab exercise is well worth it. V sits incorporate balance into an exercise that targets multiple abdominal muscle groups.
For a V Sit, start seated, and then raise your arms and legs so you make a “V” with your body. Once you understand the position, you can choose to hold for 5-15 seconds and then rest (before doing it again) or doing shorter reps. The more you practice this exercise, the easier it will become.
Medicine Ball Twists
A twist takes your V Sit to the next level. While holding a medicine ball, dumbbell, yoga block, or other heavy object, get into your V Sit. Once there, twist your abdomen back and forth, rotating enough to quickly touch your medicine ball to the floor before switching to the next size.
To modify this exercise, either bend your knees or rest your heels on the floor.
This exercise targets your lower abdomen.
To do a flutter kick, lay down and lift your feet just a few inches off the ground. Then, with straight legs, alternate moving your feet up and down. Complete 10-20, rest, and then start the next set.
If you feel a strain on your back from this exercise, place your hands under your low back/base of your spine to provide extra stability and support.
Scissor kicks are like flutter kicks, but instead of moving your feet up-and-down, you will move them side-to-side.
Like with flutter kicks, complete 10-20 reps, rest, and then start the next set.
Want some cardio with your ab workout?
Burpees are a great exercise not just for your abs, but your whole body. Start standing and then squat down. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and then jump your legs back to a plank position. Hold the plan for a second, and then jump your feet forward. Reach your hands up, jump up, and then repeat the process.
Supermans are a great ab exercise. Unlike the other exercises, you will start on your stomach. Reach your arms out in front of you and your feet backward. Raise your chest and legs off the ground so you look like Superman flying through the air. Hold the pose for 5-10 seconds, rest, and then repeat.
If you have trouble with this exercise, try raising opposite arm and leg until you can raise all four limbs.
Don’t Forget to Stretch: Best Ab Stretches
Just as after any workout, stretching after your core exercises is a must. Many of the stretches listed below come from yoga, but they are a great way to stretch those muscles and dive right into recovery.
For this stretch, start on your hands and knees.
To be the “cat,” press into your hands and knees to arch your back, as if you were an angry cat. Point the crown of your head to the floor.
For the “cow” part of the stretch, go in the opposite direction. Exaggerate a dip in your back as you lift your chest and head and forward.
Cobra Pose/Prone Abdominal Stretch
From your stomach, put your hands in line with your shoulders and then press up. You should feel the stretch through the center of your abdomen.
Seated Flexion Stretch
Sit in a cross-legged position. Place one hand on the ground next to your hip. Lean into that side while raising your other arm up and over your head. Repeat on the other side.
See Your Transformation with ZOZOFIT
As you continue with core workouts, it’s a given that you’ll want to see your progress. Whether trying to reduce your waist size or build muscle, ZOZOFIT will allow you to see those changes with our 3D body scanning technology.