They say that abs are made in the kitchen, but that doesn't mean you can forget about training them. Like any other muscle group, they need to be worked in a variety of ways, including weighted ab exercises for definition and stabilization exercises for overall core strength.
Evlution Nutrition-sponsored athlete Emily Plajer created this circuit for all you folks out there who want abs that amaze onstage, at the beach, or in your selfies.
Perform this circuit three times. Each exercise should last 1 minute, then rest for 2 minutes between circuits. This is the perfect ab routine to tack onto the end of your upper-body or lower-body workouts, on days when you're feeling like you could use some extra work!
Hanging Leg Raise: 3 rounds of 1 min.
To get the most out of this exercise, Emily advises you to keep your core tight and don't use momentum to swing up your legs.
If keeping your legs straight is difficult, you can modify the exercise by bending your knees and raising them toward your chest.
Russian Twist: 3 rounds of 1 min.
Cross your legs with your feet off the ground and hovering over the floor. Fully twist from side to side, holding a medicine ball, or a dumbbell if you don't have a ball. This targets your obliques and challenges your hip flexors and overall core stability.
If staying balanced with your feet off the ground is challenging for you, you can set your heels down and still perform the exercise with your knees bent and your torso at a 45-degree angle.
Barbell Roll-Out: 3 rounds of 1 min.
The most difficult part of this exercise for most people is keeping your lower back from arching. You can avoid it by engaging your core as completely as you can and tucking your pelvis before extending out with your arms.
Another thing that may hinder full range of motion here is shoulder mobility. If this is a limitation for you, just go out as far as you can, and again—we can't emphasize it enough—Engage. Those. Abs.
Decline Leg Raise: 3 rounds of 1 min.
This move targets the abdominals and hip flexors. Bend your knees toward your chest, and raise your legs toward the ceiling, feet first, in one fluid motion. Also engage your arms to keep your body from sliding.
Make sure to set the decline at an angle that challenges you and allows you to keep performing reps for 1 minute without hitting failure. You can gradually lower the angle as you improve.
Plank: 3 rounds of 1 min.
Next up is a 1-minute plank. Set yourself on your forearms with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep your back as flat as possible and set your feet about shoulder-width apart.
You will feel this more in your lower abs if you keep your pelvis tucked throughout, and you'll experience less aggravation in your lower back, which a lot of people tend to struggle with when doing planks. It also helps to think about squeezing your glutes to keep your lower back from caving.
Side Plank with Hip Tap: 3 rounds of 30 sec., per side
Staying on the floor, do side planks for 30 seconds on each side. Instead of holding still, though, dip your hips down to touch the floor on the working side. The tap increases the oblique engagement to a greater degree than the standard side plank and increases the difficulty of the exercise overall.
It's important to keep your body in a straight line, even as you perform the tap. That means your hips, shoulders, and feet must remain in alignment—no tilting of the hips or shoulders forward or backward.