Abs. Everyone has them. For some, they are super toned and visible, while for others, they are hidden and covered by layers of fat.
If your abs fall into the latter category, all hope is not lost. With the right ab exercises for beginners, you can sculpt and uncover your abs.
Seriously, you can get your abs to show, as long as know the smart way to do so.
Here’s the big secret about abs: reducing overall body fat percentage and not belly fat, will get washboard abs.
You see, most people think that by doing countless crunches, they can torch belly fat.
And if you landed on this article because you were searching for quick ways to lose belly fat, I am here to tell you that you need to stop.
You MUST STOP looking for ways to lose fat in a specific area because no matter how hard you try, you can never control where you lose fat.
If you’ve got back fat, arm fat, belly fat or thigh fat, you can’t pick a spot and tell your body to burn fat in that specific area.
It’s a fallacy to think that by doing a thousand sit-ups, you’d be able to shed belly fat.
What you can instead do is consistently follow a calorie-controlled diet and exercise plan, to reduce overall body fat, and ultimately lose belly fat.
What to eat to lose belly fat
1. High protein diet
If your diet is on point, (and no I am not talking about chugging endless cups of those scammy flat tummy teas), you should then add these ab workouts to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
One other thing you have to take away from this article is that it takes discipline to be consistent with your diet and workout plan.
A diet that is high in protein and vegetables is the best when it comes to shifting body fat.
To build muscle, you should consume 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight.
Your diet should contain foods like lean beef cuts, tuna, chicken breast, salmon, eggs, beans, and vegetables.
2. Cut down on sugar and alcohol
You will do yourself a huge service by cutting out sugar and eating fewer carbs if you want to lose belly fat. If alcohol is your vice, always check how much added sugar is in your drink. The less the better.
3. Avoid foods that are high in salt
Watch out for the amount of sodium that you consume too, as a diet high in salt will make your body hold on to water.
4. Drink plenty of water
Bear in mind that the body doesn’t store excess water because you’re drinking too water.
The body retains water when you are dehydrated. Think of what happens when you drink lots of alcohol and end up being dehydrated.
Your body at this point holds on to water because you aren’t well hydrated. Always drink lots of water every day to flush out toxins and remain hydrated.
Easy ab workouts that work
Great. Now on to the meat of the matter. What are the best ab workouts for beginners?
Not all ab exercises are beneficial. Some are effective, while others are just awesome for showing people how to waste time in the gym.
If you truly want to know the best ab workouts that you can do at home or at the gym, avoid doing what most ‘fit girls’ on Instagram are doing.
I have nothing against Insta girls, by the way, just don’t understand the point of most of the mind-blowing ‘exercises’ they keep dishing out.
Those exercises are for show and will do nothing to get you the body that you want. Really friends, if you want to reap the benefits of any workout, always stick to the basics.
Best ab exercises for beginners
These workouts are based on research conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) that investigated the most effective ab workouts.
Workouts you’ll love:
Top 5 ab workouts for strengthening the rectus abdominus
The rectus abdominus in simple English is basically that pair of ab muscles that run vertically in front of your body.
1. Bicycle manoeuvre or bicycle crunches
For washboard abs, bicycle crunches will get you the most results even if you do no other ab workout.
How to do bicycle crunches
- Lie flat on your back on your exercise mat, with legs bent at the knees.
- Slightly raise your head and shoulder off the mat, and place your hands behind the ears. Do not tighten your neck.
- Bring your right knee towards your left elbow and extend your left leg out, raising it slightly off the floor.
- Do not move your elbow towards the knee, rather, move the knee towards the elbow with each rotation.
- Repeat the motion with the opposite leg and arm.
Contract your ab muscles throughout the movement and remember to breathe.
Perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
2. Captain’s chair exercise
To perform this exercise, you’ll need the captain chair gym equipment.
However, if you don’t have access to this equipment or you workout from home, there’s an alternative exercise to the captain’s chair which targets the same muscle. The modification for the captain’s chair exercise at home is the lying leg raises.
How to do the captain’s chair exercise
- Begin by placing your back against the char’s back pad.
- Place your forearms on the pads of the captain’s chain, and firmly grip the handles.
- Bring your legs together and let them hang straight down.
- Tighten your core and bend your knees, then slowly bring your knees towards you, until they form a 90-degree angle.
As with all ab workouts, remember to breathe in and out as you repeat the movement. The advanced version of this exercise will be extending the legs straight out, and bringing them towards your chest.
Do 12 reps, 3 sets.
Workouts you’ll love:
How to do leg raises (Captain’s chair alternative)
- Lie down on your back and place your hands either under your bum or on the side of your body.
- Bring your legs together and raise them to form a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly lower legs until they are about a few inches from the ground and repeat the movement.
If your back arches as you lower your legs, then don’t go as far down. Your core will get stronger the more you do these ab workouts for beginners, and once it does, you’ll be able to comfortably go as low as possible without your back lifting off the ground.
Do 12 reps, 3 sets.
3. Crunches on an exercise ball
- Sit on the stability ball, with your legs at a 90-degree angle from the floor.
- Walk your feet out until your lower back is on the ball, and your shoulders are off the ball.
- Plant your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and place your fingertips behind your ear-do not lock them together.
- Tighten your abs, and without straining your neck crunch up and down. Exhale as you crunch up and inhale as you lower.
Repeat 12 times, in sets of 3.
Best ab exercises for the obliques
The bicycle crunches and the captain’s chair are, according to the ACE study, still the best two ab workouts for the front and side abs(obliques). Following in rank order after bicycle crunches and captain’s chair for the best ab workouts for the obliques are:
4. Reverse crunches
Lots of people make the mistake of crunching the chin towards knees when doing a reverse crunch.
When done correctly, your shoulders and your neck should be still throughout the motion.
How to do reverse crunches
- Lie down on your back, with your legs bent at the knees, and feet planted on the floor.
- Place your hands behind your head or ears, but don’t lock them together. Alternatively, you can place your hands beside your body, or extend them out by your shoulders.
- Exhale and tighten your abs as you raise your hips slowly off the floor and bring them toward your chest and hold the position for a few seconds.
Inhale and slowly lower your hips towards the mat until they are at a 90-degree angle, and repeat the movement. Do not swing your legs through the movement to avoid placing excessive strain on your lower back.
5. The hover exercise( also known as a plank)
There are so many variations of the plank. You can do planks on your hands, forearms, one leg raised or on the side.
You should work your way up to be able to hold a plank for 1 minute. If you are a complete beginner, start by holding a 20-second plank, and progress to 30, 45 and finally 60 seconds.
If however, you are trying to go for the world record which currently stands at 8 hours 1 minute, go as wild as you can!
How to do a plank
Perfect form is very important with planks.
- Lie down on your exercise mat, in a push-up position.
- Place your hands directly under your shoulders and firmly plant your toes on the floor.
- Make sure your body is in a straight line all the way from your spine to your feet.
- Do not crane your neck, don’t look up or forward. Your gaze should be slightly on the floor in front of you.