Six Abdominal Exercises that Target all the Right Muscles

If “getting amazing abs” was high on your list of New Year’s resolutions this year, you may have already started cracking on with a few crunches. However, this may be a waste of time, as there’s more to abdominal wellness than doing just one exercise. If you want to flatten that tummy, you need to start doing multi-muscle exercises that target all the regions of your core—your upper and lower abs, obliques, transverse abdominis, and lower back muscles. By doing this, your abdominal wellbeing will be fit and fabulous in no time and, thanks to the Women’s Health Big Book of Abs, we’ve got the blueprint to help you do it.


1. Dumbbell Pushup Row: According to the instructions in the Big Book of Abs, ‘Place a pair of dumbbells about shoulder-width apart on the floor. (A) Grab the handles and position yourself in a pushup position. (B) Lower your body to the floor and then press back up. (C) Once you’re back in the starting position, pull the dumbbell in your right hand up toward the side of your chest. Pause, then return the starting position and repeat with your left hand. That’s one rep.’ Each time you row the weight, try to prevent your torso from rotating.


2. Dumbbell Curl to Squat to Press: The Big Book of Abs detail, ‘(A) Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides with your palms facing forward. (B) Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. Immediately push your hips back and lower your body into a squat, until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. (C) Stand up and press the dumbbells over your head. That’s one rep. Return to the starting position and repeat.’


3. Cross-Behind Lunges: ‘(A) Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm’s length at your sides, your palms facing each other,’ says the Big Book of Abs. ‘(B) Step forward and to the side so that your lead foot ends up in front of your back foot (like a curtsy). Lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees. (C) Pause, then return to the starting position and repeat with your other leg.’


4. Resistance Band Bent-Over Row: The Big Book of Abs instructs, ‘Grab a resistance band and step on it with one foot (use both feet for more resistance). (A) Hold the band in each hand at arm’s length, about shoulder-width apart, and then bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent and your lower back naturally arched. (B) Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the band up to your upper abs. Pause, then return the bar back to the starting position.’


5. Dumbbell Squat Thrust: ‘(A) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides holding a pair of dumbbells,’ the Big Book of Abs advises. ‘(B) Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as deep as you can into a squat. (C) Place the dumbbells on the floor, then kick your legs backward into a pushup position. (D) Kick your legs back to the squat position. Stand up and jump. That’s one rep.’


6. Overhead Split Squat: The Big Book of Abs outlines, ‘Hold a pair of dumbbells directly over your shoulders, with your arms completely straight. Squeeze your abs tight for the entire exercise. (A) Stand in a staggered stance, your left foot in front of your right foot. (B) Push your hips back and bend your knees so you lower your body into a squat. Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position. Perform the prescribed number of reps, and then do the same number of reps with your right foot in front of your left.’

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