Having six-pack abs is all and well and good, but there’s so much more to core strength than just the appearance of your abdominal muscles.
In fact, the abs are only one part of the core muscle, which includes a number of different muscle groups located in and around the stomach and back, like obliques and the hips.
Strengthening your core helps improve your balance, stability, and posture, and may even reduce the risk of lower back injuries. Fortunately, you don't need long to work your core, as this four-move abs workout from personal trainer Alex Rice shows.
You'll do eight to ten repetitions of each bodyweight exercise, depending on how difficult you find the movement, and two or three rounds of the circuit in total. You don't need any equipment, but it can help to have a yoga mat for support.
The final exercise is an extended plank, a variation on the standard plank, with your arms out in front. This engages muscles in your back and deep core muscles. It's challenging, but hold this pose for as long as you can.
Watch Alex Rice's core strength workout
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It’s important to do exercises that target a range of ab muscles. While sit-ups and crunches are great for engaging the abdominal muscles, there’s a whole other world of exercises that build core strength.
Actively focus on engaging your core during each exercise, squeezing the abdominal muscles. This will help to improve mind-muscle connection, which will make your workout more effective by ensuring the muscles are properly engaged.
Plus, focusing on core engagement will encourage you to do so during other exercises, such as compound movements like squats and deadlifts. Rice also explains that bracing your core while lifting weights can also help.
If you're looking to develop visible mid-section muscle, core strengthening exercises are only a part of the task. You'll also need to reduce body fat around your stomach with high-intensity routines like this HIIT workout for fat loss.
Want to work on your core even more? These eight deep core moves will also help you build strength and you could also try this 15-minute Pilates routine, which engages the abdominals even while working other parts of the body.
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Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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