The quest for having a flat tummy has led many people to become adventurous in their search for knowledge on how to build toned abs. Some have become regular visitors to google while others have ridden on bicycles, and probably performed crunches without visible results. However, these routines and many others may not be necessarily effective for building a strong core.
While it is important to know the best tummy exercises that build core strength and chisel a toned tummy, you ought to know that there are factors that can impact the visibility of the muscles.
Makeup Of the Muscle Core
The muscle core is made up of several muscles, let’s take a swipe at these muscles.
Erector Spinae: This muscle is responsible for strengthening the back and aids rotations.
Internal and external obliques: This is the muscle that is responsible for trunk rotation and it supports respiration too.
Transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis: This is what you call the six-packs, which functions as the hinging, bending, and twisting movement.
Pelvic floor muscles: The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, intestines, and uterus.
You must note that the core is the connection between several muscles that cover the trunk – connecting the spine, the neck, hips, and shoulders. There, the six-pack or rectus abdominis is just a part of it.
If you are looking to have six-packs, this will help you know where your focus should always be, instead of wasting time and leaving your core out of the picture when exercising.
Why is a strong core so important?
A strong core is not beneficial for only those who are looking for six-packs, a strong core is beneficial to the overall health and mobility of the body. You may not even have six-packs but could be stronger than those with them if you have built your core.
A strong core helps you to stay free from hip and knee injuries – and so, it is important to build this 3-dimensional box shape part of the body that includes the abdominals, glutes, and lower back muscles.
In essence, if you build a strong core, you have built a strong trunk.
Best stomach exercises
There are no “best stomach exercises” but you can do multiple stomach exercises that can work out your core on several planes for maximum output.
I have compiled some exercises for a lower-body workout or core-based session, and the effect will leave you awe-inspired.
1. Commando plank
- You start with a high plank that engages your core while your feet are apart. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Ensure that you keep your core engaged, alternate your hands after lowering one of your forearms to the floor, doing a forearm plank
- Your back must be flat but push through each arm so you can return to high plank. Repeat for 15 seconds.
2. Bear crawl
- You start when your body is in a wide push-up position while keeping a distance between your hands and feet, you can then walk your right hand and left foot forward same time. Then change to walk your right hand and left foot.
- Sit-up is one of the common exercises that build the core. Sit-up has varieties but first, lie on your back, with your feet firmly rooted to the ground, bend your legs inwards when in a stable position. With your hands over your shoulders and behind your ears, curl your upper body towards your knees. Exhale when you lift.
- Slowly lower yourself and return to starting position.
4. Bird Dog
- You may get on a tabletop position on your mat and on your knees and hands. Then tuck your hands under your bum before engaging your core. Lift your right arm until it’s close to your ear, do this while simultaneously lifting your left legs until they become parallel with the floor mat.
- You can slowly return to starting position and repeat the routine with the other leg and arm.
5. Leg raise
- Lie flat on your floor mat and on your back. Place your hands by your side and then under your bum with your palm facing down. Engage your core by raising your two feet clung together towards the ceiling.
- Gently lower your legs while in the same position and keeping your lower back pressed against the floor. Repeat.
6. Boat tucks
- In a sitting position, lean backward with your torso and with your outstretched legs.
- Then use the core muscles to bring the upper body to almost upright position and bring forth your leg close to your chest. Repeat.
7. Flutter kicks
- Get in a similar position as in leg raising. To engage your core, raise your legs in a straight line till both of them are hovering above the floor mat.
- Alternate your right and left leg when you keep your abs braced and leg straight while rapidly kicking your legs. Ensure that your lower back does not go off the floor at any point.
8. Scissor legs
- Lie flat on the floor mat with your hands by your sides and then move your hands inward with your palm facing downwards but underneath your bum.
- Point your left leg forward on a high diagonal and right leg back in position, do this without lowering then roll back down and repeat on the alternate side.
9. Straight legged sit up
- This type of sit-up sees you lie on your back with your hands placed firmly behind your head. Then slowly lift your upper body off the floor but with your legs rooted to the floor. Return to laying position and repeat.
10. Suitcase sit-ups
- Suitcase sit-up is an exercise that also strengthens the core.
- Lay flat on your floor mat. Place your hands on either side of the ears and then bend your knees to a 90-degree angle off the floor.
- Extend your legs outwards but straight while lowering the upper body to the floor. Crunch back in and bring your knees towards your chest.
11. Supine leg circles
- Like every other sit-ups, lie flat on the mat and then lift your legs up to an angle 90-degrees. Using the abdominal muscles, carry out slow but controlled circles.
- Lie flat on your back, extend your legs and arms out.
- While keeping your legs straight, use your core to bring your toes and hands up to touch. Tap your hands and feet to the floor and repeat the routine.
13. V-Sit hold
- This sit-up is similar to the V-sits but in this type, you hold the same position when you make a v-shape. Yes, hold for seconds until you feel strained.
- Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and tuck your feet in, then stretch your arms out and in front.
- Using your core to lift you, reach for your knees with swift but short movement. Note, you should lift only your head, shoulder and upper back off the floor. Repeat in reverse position.
15. Bicycle crunch
- Lie down on your back with your head and shoulders slightly raised. Place your hands behind your head and your legs placed in tabletop position.
- Move your left elbow to meet your right knee while straightening your right leg at an angle of 45 degrees.
16. Reverse crunch
- Lie flat on your back while your legs are bent and your knees are hinged towards your torso.
- Without dropping your feet to the floor, bring back your leg down.
17. Heel reaches
- Lift your head and shoulders above the floor while laying on your back, extend your hands towards your heels.
- You can now use your core to squirm side to side, then tap your right heel with left hand, then left hand and left heel.
18. Dead bug
- Dead bug is a tad complicated form of sit-up but the results are undeniable.
- Lay flat on your back, place your leg in a tabletop position and move your arm above your shoulders.
- Your arms must be straight, strong and stable, then alternatively lowering and lifting each leg. Ensure your lower back remains rooted to the floor.
- lie flat on your back with your hands and legs spread out.
- Crunch towards your chest with your legs, and push your arms forward to go past your feet.
- lower your back and repeat routine.
20. Rocking high plank
- Get your body to a plank position but with your hands placed on the floor.
- Move or rock your body weight forward and into your core. Muscles should be kept strong and stable. Gently slide back to starting position and repeat.
21. High plank
- Simply get into a plank position, place your hands directly underneath your shoulder, tight your bum, brace your core and place your feet together. Hold position until strained.
22. Forearm plank
- Stay in a high plank position, rest on your elbows.
- Keep the body in a straight line, then brace your core and hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
23. Side plank
- Lean on your right arm with your elbow on the floor. Place your body in a straight line, head to feet. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds, change arms, and repeat
24. Thread the needle
- In a side plank position, extend the other arm to the ceiling.
- Move the extended arm to a threading position below the hip and extend back up. Keep your hips high and up.
25. Plank jacks
Get in shape for a high plank. With your hands firmly rooted to the floor. Jump your feet in and out. Repeat routine for 30 seconds.
26. Russian twists
- Lie flat on your back, bend your knees at an angle of 45 degrees with your feet hovering off the floor. Use your abs to move your torse to a 45 degrees angle with the floor.
- gently twist your torso to the left side, keeping your arms raised and straight. Hold for seconds then reverse the twist to repeat on the other side.
27. Plank reaches
- In a forearm plank position, raise and straighten your left arm, hold to a parallel position with the rest of the body.
- Lower your body back to starting position, repeat while you raise the opposite arm.
28. Supine leg circles
- Lie flat on your back, prop your upper body upwards and away from your forearms.
- Move your legs upwards and off the floor, then perform slow outward circles in opposite direction. Engage your lower abs to perform move rightly while you keep your core and upper body still
29. Supine single-leg kick and crunch
- Start out as you do for supine leg circles above
- However, crunch your two knees towards you before bring each leg up towards your face. Leg must be straight when doing this routine.
30. Supine paddle with diagonal crunch
- Start out like the supine leg circles above.
- Crunch your two knees towards you while twisting your upper body to the right. Repeat this on the left side.
- Return to starting position and carry our up to four paddles with your feet but keeping your core engaged and your upper body still.
31. Single knee crunch with a twist
- Lay flat on your back but have your legs, neck, and upper shoulder lift against the ground.
- Crunch your left arm towards your right knee to meet in the middle.
- Lower your back and repeat in the opposite position.
32. Russian twists
- Bend your knees at an angle of 45 degrees with your feet hovering off the floor and your hands holding the weight above your chest. Using your abs, raise your torso to an angle of 45 degrees.
- Gently twist your torso on the left side while your arms are raised in a straight position. Hold the position for a while, then reverse the twist to repeat on the other side.
33. Weighted sit-up
- This is a simple but effective sit-up routine for a flat tummy.
- Lie on your back – plant your feet on the ground with your legs bent inwards, then stabilise your lower body. Hold a weight at any of the ends, extend your arms behind your head, and slightly bend in your elbow
- Curl your upper body way up towards your knees and then bring your arms to rest in your front.
34. Sit up with overhead press
- Lay flat on your back, bend your legs while leaving your feet firmly planted to the ground to give you stability. Grab a dumbbell with your two hands,
- Curl the upper part of your body towards your knees.
- As you move up with your curled body, press the dumbbell that is above you.
- Slowly lower your body downwards, return your arms and body to a starting position.
35. Russian twist with feet on the floor
- Sit on the mat, plant both feet to the floor, and move your upper against the floor and above your chest.
- Use your abs to move your torso upwards to a 45 degrees angle. Twist your torso to the left side, reverse the twist but do this keeping your arms straight and raised.
36. Sit up with chest press
- While laying down on your back, plant your feet to the floor and hold a dumbbell with your two hands. Curl the upper part of your body and move towards your knees.
- In a curled-up position, press the dumbbell that is in your front, do this forming a right angle. Gently move yourself down, returning to starting position with your arms and body. Inhale when lowering.
37. Lateral pull
- Place a kettlebell or dumbbell right in front of you to get started in a high plank position.
- With your two hands flat on the floor, you engage your core when you pull the weight to the opposite hand through your arms.
- Keep your hips stable but pull the weight back to starting position using the opposite hand.
38. Straight leg sit-up
- Lay flat on your back, hold a kettlebell with the ball behind your head while your legs are extended
- Curl the upper part of your body towards your knees.
- Then pull the weight over your head to reach the front of your chest.
- Gently lower yourself down, returning both your legs and arm to starting positions,
39. Side bends
- Stand straight with your hands in their natural position and a dumbbell in each hand.
- Bend left while engaging your core and feeling your waist contract.
- Return to starting position, and use your core to raise your body up. Repeat on the opposite side.
40. Standing dumbbell reaches
- Standing straight with one of your hands on your waist and the other holding a dumbbell, reach towards your toes with the hand holding the dumbbell.
- Reach for your toes with the hand holding the weight.
- Use your obliques to crunch down and also use your core to bring yourself back to a standing position. Ensure you lift only the weight that you can carry.
41. Weighted side plank with extension
- This routine is also similar to a side plank but you hold a dumbbell with this one.
- Reach for under your torse with the arm carry the dumbbell while your hips and legs are still.
- Using your core, twist back to the starting position and repeat.
42. V-sit with Swiss Ball
- Lay flat on your mat and extend your arms and leg with a swiss ball in both hands.
- Engage your core with your legs straight but your hands and toes upwards to touch.
- Move the swiss ball from the hands to your feet.
- tap your hands and feet to the floor before repeating routine but swapping the ball back to your hands.