When it comes to body building, the V taper is ideal, big biceps are a staple, and bowling ball delts are highly sought after. Probably the most iconic aspect of bodybuilding in the public’s eye, however, are six-pack abs. The legends of the sport all had amazing physiques that were capped off with washboard abs of steel – but how did they achieve it?
As with any aspect of weight lifting or physique training, things don’t happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, the right mindset, and discipline to achieve the desired results. In addition, utilizing the right exercises, especially to help those abs show through, is a big part of the process. Let’s take a look at 6 exercises that will get your core burning and lay a foundation for the summer body you’ve always wanted.
- Decline Sit-Ups
Every gym has at least one decline bench that probably isn’t being used to its full potential. Sure, the decline bench is most known for the decline dumbbell or barbell press, but it also can be used as a great ab exercise tool.
Start by adjusting the bench angle so it’s at about 30 degrees. Lock your ankles into the pads and lean all the way back till your back touches the bench. 3 to 5 Sets of 20 -30 reps with minimal rest in between should be a great place to start. Remember to go slow and controlled the whole way through, squeezing the abs at the top of each rep and going all the way down till your abs feel a stretch at the bottom. If this feels too easy, grab a 10lb weight and make it a little more difficult. Additionally, mix it up with turning your body to one side and doing a side crunch, really focusing on the obliques.
- Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are a great exercise to engage the lower abs as well as hip flexors. Start by finding either a bar to hang from or one of those elbow padded leg lift cages. Simply lift your legs to about 90 degrees or slightly above, and slowly lower them down, avoiding all swinging. Again, a few sets of about 20 reps should leave you feeling the burn! Need to make it a little harder? Grab a 5lb dumbbell and hold it between your feet. The burn is real!
- Decline Russian Twists
Back to the ole’ decline bench! This time we are going to focus on our obliques while still engaging our core. Start off with your back flush against the bench and your hands next to your head in the classic sit up position. Raise about half way up, engaging your abs, then rotate / twist your shoulders and torso from side to side. Do this slowly and controlled to avoid any excessive strain on your spine. It might take a little experimenting to feel this exercise in your obliques, but give it a try! Like the previous exercises, grabbing a weight can add some intensity and difficulty to this movement.
- Hanging Windmills
Hanging windmills are a personal favorite for really lighting a fire in the core and obliques. With these, the slower the better! Start by finding a bar to hang from – no swinging or momentum allowed! Twist your hips to the left and while keeping your legs as straight as possible, bring your toes up to the bar on the left hand side of your left hand – in a circular motion, hence the name “Windmills”. When they get to the top, they are going to continue in that circular motion and come down to the right of your right hand. When they get to the bottom, pause and reverse the motion. Try to complete 5 on each side (10 reps), before letting go. This will require some grip strength too, so don’t push it too hard too fast. Falling could seriously set you back.
- Candlestick Twists
Candlestick twists are another exercise to hit obliques and abs together. Find a mat or padded surface to lay down on and put your arms straight and parallel next your hips. Begin by raising your legs, hinging at your hips. When your legs are straight up use your abdominals to push you butt up in the air, leaving your arms planted on the ground for balance. Then, let your butt return to the ground and slowly lower your legs, engaging your abs the whole way. When you get comfortable with this movement, throw a little twist into your hips when you raise your butt off the ground. This will incorporate your obliques into the exercise and you’ll have that definition on either side of your abs in no time!
Last but not least, exercise some self control and practice healthy eating. You’ve all heard it before and it’s true, abs are made in the kitchen. We all have abdominal muscles, they just get covered by body fat either on purpose due to bulking, or on accident due to improper eating. Eating lean meats, tracking your macros, and consistently exercising is the biggest difference maker when it comes to getting your abs to show up. Remember, if you mess around, the results will mess around. If you don’t have time to prep all your meals and find yourself consistently making poor decisions at mealtimes, try creating a custom protein blend or checking out a proven protein formula from True Nutrition. No more excuses for poor diet!
So there you have it, a step by step guide to core exercises that will get you abs even the most ripped Greek gods will be admiring. Most people tend to hit abs after they have hit their primary muscle group, but do what feels best for you! One last bit of advice: try super setting the decline bench ab exercises. It will leave you winded, but if you stick to it for a month, the results will amaze you. The key is to stay consistent and just get it done. No excuses, no “I’ll do it tomorrow,” no next time. If you want it, make it happen. Period. We’ll see you in the gym.
Your’s in Health,