9 CORE EXERCISES THAT GET YOU CLOSER TO SIX-PACK ABS
Everybody wants a six-pack—which is great. But FYI, there are actually four key muscle groups you need to tone to get a taut tummy.
“For the best results, both aesthetically and functionally, you need to target all the muscles in your abdomen,” explains NYC-based trainer Joan Pagano, author of Strength Training Exercises for Women.
What are they? Let’s meet all your ab muscles.
On the side of your abs, you have your external abdominal obliques and your internal abdominal obliques. Your external obliques lie on top, and are those muscles you feel in your side, just under your arm. The internal obliques are deeper muscles that lie underneath your external obliques, acting as stabilizers to help you maintain your posture.
The transversus abdominis are your deepest muscles, running horizontally around your midsection. Pagano says that toning these creates a “natural girdle” to keep your tummy tucked and stabilize your pelvis. Then, of course, there’s the most superficial muscle group in the abdomen: the rectus abdominis (AKA, when toned, the classic “six-pack” abs). This set runs from sternum to pelvis, helping you flex your spine while walking.
One move does not tone all your muscles. You’re going to need at least a few weapons in your arsenal to tighten up all over. Here, Carbon38 co-founder Caroline Gogolak demos the best abs moves to target all areas—even the ones you can’t see.
Works: Rectus abdominis
Pagano says: Sit up straight, with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Pull torso in close to thighs, reaching arms forward at shoulder level with palms down. Exhale, drawing navel toward spine as you roll back onto tailbone, curving spine into a “C” shape. Inhale and realign spine to straighten up. (Want more? Continue with The Best Exercises for Lower Abs.)
TWISTING ROLL BACK
Works: Internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis
Pagano says: With arms extended forward, perform a roll-back, curving spine into a “C”. Twist torso to one side, bending one elbow and pulling it back at shoulder level while reaching other arm to opposite knee. Reach both arms forward and return to start. Repeat on the other side.
SITE-UPS WITH A MEDICINE BALL
Works: Transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques
Personal trainer Jimmy Minardi says: Hold a medicine ball over head, and recline all the way down. Lift from core back to a sitting position, keeping the ball over head. To make this more challenging, find a slant board at the gym, or buy one for around $50. Hook feet under the top of the board. The downhill slant and extra weight add an extra challenge to ab muscles. Increase the angle of the board and the weight of the ball for better results.