Use this quick and effective workout to build great abs and a solid, strong and injury resistant core.
What are the Benefits of Strong Core Muscles?
Having strong core muscles offers numerous benefits for overall health, fitness, and daily functionality. Here are some of the key advantages of a strong core:
Improved Posture: A strong core helps support the spine and promotes proper alignment, leading to better posture. It reduces the risk of developing conditions such as chronic back pain, slouching, and postural abnormalities.
Increased Stability and Balance: Core muscles play a vital role in maintaining stability and balance. A strong core enhances your ability to perform activities that require balance, such as walking on uneven surfaces, playing sports, or performing various physical exercises.
Enhanced Athletic Performance: Most physical movements involve the core muscles. A strong core improves athletic performance by generating power and transferring energy effectively. It can enhance performance in activities like running, jumping, lifting, and throwing.
Reduced Risk of Injury: A stable and strong core provides a solid foundation for movement, minimizing the risk of injuries. It helps to stabilize the spine, protecting it during activities that involve twisting, bending, or sudden movements.
Improved Functional Strength: Core muscles are engaged in almost every functional movement, including reaching, lifting, bending, and twisting. By strengthening the core, you enhance your overall functional strength and make daily tasks easier and more efficient.
Better Spinal Support: Core muscles, particularly the deep stabilizing muscles, help support the spine and maintain its natural curvature. A strong core can alleviate or prevent conditions like herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and other spinal issues.
Enhanced Breathing and Digestion: The diaphragm, a crucial muscle involved in breathing, attaches to the core muscles. Strengthening the core can improve breathing efficiency and diaphragmatic function. Additionally, a strong core supports healthy digestion and can alleviate digestive issues.
Improved Overall Fitness: A strong core complements your overall fitness regimen. Whether you’re engaged in weightlifting, cardiovascular exercises, or other physical activities, a strong core acts as a foundation, enhancing your performance and reducing the risk of injuries.
It’s important to note that core strength goes beyond just the superficial abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis). It includes the deep muscles, such as the transverse abdominis, obliques, multifidus, and pelvic floor muscles. Engaging in a well-rounded core-strengthening routine can help you reap the benefits mentioned above.
10 Minute 6 Pack Workout
Jeremy Ethier explains, “So the first ab exercise we’re going to perform in the abs workout routine is the reverse crunch, which effectively favours the lower abs over the upper abs in terms of activation. What you want to do is before you even start, initiate something called posterior pelvic tilt. When you perform a rep, all I want you to think about is curling your pelvis up towards your belly button and think about contracting your lower abs. Build up this movement to roughly 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps done with bodyweight and full control, then move onto performing them weighted and/or with a decline implemented like so for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.”
“Next, we’ll move onto high to low woodchoppers, one of the best abs exercises available that works the obliques. For these, you want to keep your arms extended and elbows locked, and then use the one side of your obliques to rotate your torso down and across your body towards the opposite knee. I’d recommend a set and rep range of roughly 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps, and adding more weight as this becomes easier. If you find difficulty with this movement then a viable alternative are bicycle crunches.”
“Next, it’s time to move onto weighted crunches, which enable us to selectively emphasize the upper abs for well-rounded six pack abs. The key is that you’re emphasizing the top down aspect of these movements by focusing on simply bringing the rib cage forward and down towards the pelvis. Your hips should simply remain stationary as you perform each rep. You’ll want to use a moderate rep range of 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps and again, gradually overload these with more weight as your abs develop and strengthen overtime.”
“The last exercise of this abs workout will be something called serratus jabs, which elicits very high activity of the serratus anterior. You can use a band or cable and set it up such that your arm travels upward during the jab. Then you want to simply perform an upward punching motion and reach as far as you can at the end position in order to protract that scapula and fully activate the serratus anterior. Again, use a rep range of 10-15 reps per side for these and overload it overtime by increasing the resistance.”
- Reverse Crunches: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps (bodyweight)
- BUILD UP TO: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps (weighted/decline)
- High To Low Cable Woodchoppers: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps per side
- Bicycle Crunches: 2-3 sets to failure (bodyweight)
- Weighted Crunches: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
- Serratus Jabs: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
Jeremy Ethier is a fitness YouTuber and online fitness coach who provides evidence-based information and workout routines to help people achieve their fitness goals.
With a focus on promoting a sustainable and balanced approach to fitness, Jeremy provides workout programs and nutrition advice that are tailored to individual goals and preferences. He covers various fitness topics, ranging from building muscle and strength to improving flexibility and mobility.
Why are Reverse Crunches a Great Exercise?
Reverse crunches are considered a great exercise for several reasons. Here are some of the benefits and reasons why reverse crunches can be effective:
Targeting Lower Abdominal Muscles: Reverse crunches primarily focus on the lower abdominal muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis. These muscles play a significant role in core stability and help in achieving a flat and toned midsection.
Core Strength and Stability: Reverse crunches engage the entire core, including the abdominal muscles, hip flexors, and lower back. By strengthening these muscles, reverse crunches help improve core strength and stability, which is vital for overall functional movements and reducing the risk of back pain or injury.
Reducing the Risk of Lower Back Pain: Weak abdominal muscles can contribute to lower back pain and postural imbalances. Reverse crunches strengthen the core and promote better spinal alignment, helping to alleviate or prevent lower back pain.
Minimal Equipment and Space Required: Reverse crunches can be performed without any equipment, making them a convenient exercise that can be done at home or in limited spaces. All you need is a mat or a comfortable surface to lie down on.
Variation in Difficulty: Reverse crunches can be modified to suit different fitness levels. Beginners can start with bent knees and gradually progress to straight leg raises or other advanced variations as they gain strength and stability.
Engaging Hip Flexors: In addition to targeting the abdominal muscles, reverse crunches engage the hip flexor muscles. Strengthening the hip flexors can enhance hip mobility and improve performance in activities that involve hip movements, such as running, jumping, or kicking.
Versatility in Training Programs: Reverse crunches can be incorporated into various workout routines and training programs. They can be performed as a standalone exercise or combined with other abdominal exercises to create a comprehensive core workout.
Remember, while reverse crunches offer several benefits, it’s essential to perform them with proper form and technique to avoid strain or injury.
What are the Benefits of Weighted Crunches?
Weighted crunches, which involve adding resistance to traditional crunches, offer several benefits for core strength and development. Here are some of the advantages of incorporating weighted crunches into your workout routine:
Increased Intensity and Muscle Activation: Adding weights to your crunches increases the resistance, which in turn intensifies the exercise. This leads to greater muscle activation in the abdominal muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis. The added load challenges the muscles to work harder, promoting strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Enhanced Core Strength and Stability: Weighted crunches provide a progressive overload stimulus to the core muscles, stimulating strength gains. As you gradually increase the weight, your core muscles adapt and become stronger, leading to improved core stability and functionality in daily activities and sports performance.
Targeted Abdominal Muscle Development: Weighted crunches allow you to specifically target and develop the abdominal muscles, leading to increased definition, tone, and overall aesthetics. By adding resistance, you can effectively engage and work the targeted muscles, helping to sculpt and strengthen the midsection.
Improved Endurance: Performing weighted crunches with higher repetitions challenges your core endurance. This can be beneficial for athletes or individuals who require core stability and endurance in activities like running, jumping, or participating in sports that involve rapid and repetitive movements.
Assistance in Fat Loss: While targeted exercises alone do not spot-reduce fat in specific areas, including weighted crunches in a well-rounded fitness routine can contribute to overall fat loss. The increased muscle mass resulting from weighted crunches can elevate your metabolism, leading to enhanced calorie expenditure and potentially aiding in body fat reduction.
Versatility and Progression: Weighted crunches offer versatility in terms of equipment and progressions. You can use a variety of equipment such as dumbbells, weight plates, or resistance bands to add resistance to your crunches. Additionally, you can gradually increase the weight as you become stronger, allowing for continuous progression and further improvements in core strength.
Remember to prioritize proper form and technique when performing weighted crunches. Maintain control throughout the movement, engage the core muscles, and avoid straining the neck or relying solely on momentum. If you’re new to weighted exercises or have any concerns, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a fitness professional to ensure safe and effective execution.
Why Do You Need a Low Body Fat Percentage for Abs to Show?
To have visible abs, a low body fat percentage is typically necessary. Here’s why:
Fat Storage: The abdominal muscles are located beneath a layer of subcutaneous fat, which is the fat just below the skin. When your body fat percentage is high, a thicker layer of fat covers the abdominal area, making the abs less visible.
Fat Distribution: Fat distribution varies among individuals. Some people tend to store more fat in the abdominal region, while others store it in different areas. Genetics play a role in determining where your body tends to store fat. For some individuals, the abdominal area may be one of the last areas to lose fat.
Fat Loss and Spot Reduction: Fat loss occurs when you create an overall calorie deficit, where you burn more calories than you consume. While you can’t spot-reduce fat in specific areas of your body, consistently losing body fat through a combination of calorie control and exercise will eventually lead to fat loss in the abdominal area.
Abdominal Muscle Definition: As your body fat percentage decreases, the layer of fat covering your abdominal muscles diminishes, and the definition of the underlying muscles becomes more visible. The combination of reduced body fat and increased muscle tone creates the appearance of defined abs.
It’s important to note that everyone’s body is different, and the level of body fat required to have visible abs can vary. Generally, for men, a body fat percentage of around 10-12% or lower is often needed for visible abs. For women, a body fat percentage of around 18-20% or lower may be required. However, these numbers are not absolute and can vary depending on factors such as genetics, muscle mass, and body composition.
Achieving visible abs requires a combination of proper nutrition, regular exercise, and consistent fat loss over time.
It’s important to approach fat loss in a healthy and sustainable manner, focusing on overall well-being rather than solely on aesthetics. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can help you develop a personalized plan to reach your goals safely and effectively.