New year, new you: Blasting your core

PlankGETTING ripped abdominal muscles is a common goal for many people when working out. Aside from the aesthetic effect, having a strong core is very important when it comes to working out and exercise in general. A sturdy core is key when weightlifting; it helps you keep a strong posture and therefore helps you execute your lifts perfectly without damaging yourself. It’s also important for sports players. The benefits to having a strong core really are endless!

A lot of people will leave ab exercises out of their workout; some because they find them too difficult, while others simply have a lack of knowledge regarding them. It’s also always important to be selective of your exercises; you need to make sure that you’re not just working the same parts of your core.

Your abdominal area consists of four different major muscles. These are:

Transversus abdominis – This muscle is your deepest abdominal muscle; it cannot be seen or touched from outside the body. This muscle will have a major effect on your posture; it’s very important that this muscle is kept strong.

Internal obliques – These are a pair of muscles, almost as deep as the transversus abdominis, lying on either side of your torso. Together with the transversus abdominis, they have a tremendous effect on your posture. They’re involved in rotation of the spine.

External obliques – These are more superficial muscles, lying further out than the internal obliques. They still have an effect on your posture, but not as much as the deeper muscles.

Rectus abdominis – This is the most superficial part of your abdominals, the outer muscle, which give the aesthetic effect of the six-pack when worked properly.

It’s good to have knowledge of the four muscles as you can learn which exercises are affecting where in your torso, and therefore not spend all of your time working the same part and neglecting the others. So, now that I’ve run you through the four major parts of your abs, it’s time to get into the exercises:

Plank – This will target your transversus muscles, working deeper than other exercises and helping with stability. Lie face down and support yourself off of the floor using your forearms (or hands) and toes. Keep your back straight and your glutes tucked down. Pull your belly button into your spine and maintain this throughout the exercise.

Side planks with T-raise – Beginning in a side plank position with dumbbell in free hand, proceed to raise the dumbbell in an arc until your body lies in a T shape, training to failure. (Works internal obliques)

Swiss ball resistance crunch – Set up a resistance cable pillar so the attachment is at the bottom of the pillar. Pick an attachment that is easy to keep hold of. Place a Swiss ball a foot or so away from the pillar. While laying on your back on the Swiss ball, pull the attachment so it sits behind your head. Proceed to perform a crunch. (Works rectus abdominis muscles)

Leg raises into twists – Begin by lying on a bench, making sure that you have a decent grip on it. Proceed to raise your legs upwards, at the top of the movement, then proceed to move your hips off the bench, twisting to the left, to the centre, to the right. Drop legs, training to failure. (Works external obliques and rectus abdominis)

So there you go, my favourite ab exercises, targeting every section of your abdominal muscles. These give you the aesthetic effect of a six-pack and V lines, while also working deep in your core to help with your posture.