As we approach the final weeks of this beach body series they are only a few key areas left to address to make sure you have all your bases covered for when you hit the poolside or coastline.
This week I’m going to focus on a part of the body that for many men is the holy grail of the beach body look – the abdominals or abs.
You may have heard the saying that the “abs are made in the kitchen”, or in other words it’s all about the diet. For the best part this statement is true; a low body fat is a sure-fire way to see those abs coming through. With that said, it’s still very worthwhile dedicating some training time to work this area. Not only will it help to create the look most of us are after, it will also aid in the performance of all the other exercises described in this series.
There are thousands of ab exercises out there so I’ve simply selected three of my favourite based on their effectiveness and the different ways they work the various muscles that make up the abdominal region.
Which abs exercises are the best?
The gym ball jack-knife
To set up for this exercise, get into a press up position with your feet elevated and resting on a gym ball. Start with the legs straight and then pull the knees up to the chest rolling the ball underneath you. Time a full out breath as you do this, keeping the movement slow and controlled while the knees come up. Return the legs back to the start position to complete a repetition. Three sets of ten reps will leave the abs burning.
The Turkish get up to elbow
I am a big fan of the full Turkish get up as it’s a great all-round exercise, plus it can be broken down into many separate and very effective parts. In this version of the exercise you simply take the first part of the movement (also known as the punch and crunch) and use it to work the abs in a more spine friendly and productive way than straight forward crunches.
You don’t necessarily need to use any extra weight for this exercise (a kettlebell is often used), and if you’re not familiar with Turkish get ups in general I would advise just using bodyweight to start with. The set up for this is quite difficult to describe so I’ve provided a video to help. Aim to complete 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions each side.
The anti-rotation press
If the first two exercises work the abs by creating movement then this exercise works them by resisting movement – specifically the obliques that run down the side of the upper body. You can set this one up using a band anchored at chest height or a resistance cable. Stand side on to the band or cable, holding it close to the body at chest height with both hands.
You should be able to feel some resistance pulling you sideways. Have your feet slightly wider than hip with apart and keep your knees soft. Press the band or cable away from the body until your arms are straight. Make sure your hands move in a straight line out in front of you, resisting the pull of the band or cable. Time a full exhale as your hands move away from the body keeping the ribs down. Bring your hands back towards your chest to complete a rep. Aim to complete three sets of 8 to 10 reps each side.
There are many ways you can include ab exercises into your upper and lower body programs. Some people prefer to do them at the start of a session, while others prefer to wait until the end. You can even pair them with any of the lower body or upper exercises described in this series and use them during the main part of your workout.