Happy Thursday to you,
How many workouts have you completed this year?
So far I’ve managed 5 weight training workouts and a series of long walks and mobility. Plus my daily meditation practice is going strong.
Health and fitness should be a long term goal, a lifetime goal.
Try not to worry about getting everything perfect, just start to develop a regular exercise habit for life.
Maybe you miss a workout here and there, maybe you only perform 2 sets rather than 3, like I did yesterday. But how many workouts will you perform in a month? 3 months? and 1 year?
This is what will really change the way you look and feel and ultimately help you live a happier and healthier life.
OK, now lets look at the best ab exercises to perform in 2021…
11 Ab Exercises
Before I list out the best ab exercises lets look at some of the worst:
- Sit Ups
- Ab cradles
- Ab crunch machines
- Decline sit ups
- Crunch and twist (these are the worst)
All these exercises use spinal flexion which can squeeze, irritate or even herniate your discs. Plus ask any Osteo or spinal expert the worst movement for the spine and they will tell you flexion plus rotation. Hence why Russian Twists are very dangerous especially when holding a weight.
So if you are using any of the above exercises stop now!
These types of exercises also worsen your posture pulling you even further forward. We already damage our posture enough just by sitting or working at a desk without wanting to make things worse.
Luckily, there are safer and more effective exercises for you to use.
1. Front Plank – make sure you get it right. Your elbows must be slightly in front of your shoulders, the further forward the more demanding. Tuck you tailbone underneath you and brace. Keep your hips up. Goal: 2 minutes
2. Side plank – again get it right. Elbow under shoulder. Pelvis at 90 degrees to the floor. Push the hips up, don’t sag. Goal: 90 secs each side.
3. Shoulder Taps – start in the top position of a push up. Keeping your hips still and slowly alternate touching your hand to your opposite shoulder. Goal: 20 total reps
4. Slow Mountain Climbers – start in the top push up position again and slowly bring your knee to your elbow, squeeze, then repeat on the other side. Goal: 20 total reps
5. Cross Body Mountain Climbers – as above but take your knee underneath your body to your opposite elbow. Goal: 20 total reps
Now for some more advanced exercises…
6. Stability Ball Plank – take your plank to the next level by placing your elbows on a stability ball. Again keep the elbows in front of your shoulders. Make it even harder by performing small circles with your elbows. Goal: 60 seconds
7. Push Up Variations – push ups are basically moving front planks so will train your abs but you can add in a knee to elbow on the way down or place your feet on a stability ball. Goal: as many as possible
8. Stability Ball Jackknife – a push up position with your feet on the ball then bring your knees to your chest. You can also perform a pike variation of this exercise. Goal: 20 reps
9. Roll Outs – remember those old ab wheels, those are a serious ab training tool. You can also perform roll outs on a stability ball, or a foam roller. Only for the very advanced. Goal: 15 reps
10. Woodchops – cable woodchops, up and down, kneeling or standing, will seriously develop your core and abs in a very practical way. Goal: 10 reps each side
11. Renegade Rows – these are my go-to core exercise that start in a push up position and then involve rowing alternate arms to the chest. Very very demanding on the core stabilisers as they work hard to resist rotation. Goal: 10 reps each side
It is important to realise that a great many exercises use your core and ab muscles without you knowing it. For example bodyweight exercises including: squat thrusts, burpees, pull ups and push ups are all BIG core exercises.
The same applies to kettlebell training: Swings, Get Ups, Rows, Cleans, Snatches, Windmills, and even the Overhead Press will require a great degree of core activation.
A workout from week 7 of my 12 Week Men’s Program:
- Reverse Lunge – 10 each side
- Renegade Row – 8 each side
- Overhead Press – 8 each side
- Repeat for 12 minutes
Here’s an example of a density training workout that cycles through the same 3 exercises for a set amount of time.
You will notice how we use a lower body exercise followed by a pulling and then pushing based exercise.
You will find this workout very challenging both on your cardio, full body and core muscles.
For those that find the renegade row too tough you can replace it with a bent over row instead.
Want more ready-made workouts? See my latest programs here
This weeks question:
Q. “Greg, I’ve been following your beginners program but I’ve been off sick, should I start back on the same workout?”
A. Regardless of what workout program you are following, if you have been sick then you should start back slowly.
Over-exercise will weaken your immune system and an already weak immune system following an illness should not be taxed any further.
So rewind your program a few weeks and only perform 1 set rather than 3. Ease back into your workouts slowly over the course of a few weeks.
I hope this helps.