Abs; the finely-defined, strongly-sculpted centrepiece of your beach body look. But how can you create a set of envy-inducing abdominals you’d be proud to showcase this summer? To find the answer, we’ve turned to Gentleman’s Journal fitness expert James Stirling, AKA Instagram’s @london_fitness_guy.
“If your goal is build a strong core from home,” says Stirling, “I’ve got just the exercises for you. It’s the perfect circuit to add to your weekly routine, and it requires no equipment — but will improve your strength in conjunction with the right diet, and will showcase a defined core.
“This circuit also brings together crunch variations and holds,” he adds, “to hit your core from all angles. With each hold movement, aim to increase your holding time as way of progression. This will give you a target to aim for each week to support those who have a competitive edge!”
Exercise #1: Shoulder Taps
For this exercise, repeat for 40 seconds and focus on ensuring that your hips do not sway. Rest for 20 seconds between sets, and aim for three complete sets.
- Start in a plank position
- Bring your left arm to your right shoulder
- Hold for a count of 3 seconds
- Return and repeat with the opposite hand
Exercise #2: Hollow Hold
For a slightly regressed version of this exercise, place your arms straight and backwards behind your head. Otherwise:
- Begin on your back with your legs straight
- Lift your shoulders and legs a few inches off the mat
- Squeeze your core to hold position
Exercise #3: Side Plank
The side plank is a great exercise for your oblique muscles, which are found on the side of your abdomen.
- Begin with your elbow on the mat, parallel to your shoulder
- Lay on your side
- Lift your hips off the mat and hold position for 40 seconds
- Change side and repeat
Exercise #4: Butterfly Crunch
One of my favourite crunch movements, the Butterfly Crunch works all four layers of your abdominal muscles — and works to create a flatter stomach and more defined abs.
- Place the soles of your feet together, like a groin stretch position
- Lay your back down to the mat
- Keeping the soles of the feet together, lift through your core and touch your feet like a sit-up
- Slowly return to start position and repeat.
Exercise #5: Bear Hold
A bodyweight mobility exercise, the Bear Hold is an excellent exercise to maintain core control and focused breathing:
- Start on all fours with your hands parallel to your shoulders
- Lift you knees an inch above the mat
- Glance towards your belly button
- Maintain a flat back and hold
Exercise #6: Cocoon
The cocoon crunch is a bodyweight exercise targeting the ab muscles, with a particular focus on your ‘six-pack’ muscles.
- Lay on your back with your knees pointing towards your chest
- Simultaneously take your arms back as your straighten your legs
- Hold for 2-3 seconds when straight and then return to the start position
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