How do you know what the best core exercises for abs are?
If you are stepping on the beach anytime soon you probably looked in the mirror wondering where your abs were.
If they were hiding and you just are waiting for them to pop up so you can look A+ in your bathing suit.
Not only are they important for obtaining the desired physique goals, they actually are the most important group of muscles on your body.
A main driver in things like protecting your lower back, being able to produce power and force, and helping correct posture.
Abs are important whether you are looking at the health benefits or the benefits of being able to step on the beach in confidence.
Now, let’s go over the 3 most important exercises you should be doing to obtain said benefits above.
The Truth Behind The Best Core Exercises For Abs
Here is the deal.
The 3 best core exercises for abs labeled in this article are going to build some of the most aesthetic and strongest abs ever.
That being said I have to say this.
Everyone has abs. It doesn’t matter if you are 100 lbs overweight or shredded to the bone.
You have abs.
The thing is no matter how many ab exercises you do if you are not at a low enough body fat percentage you will not see them.
You can do the exercises labeled in this article everyday all day long.
Yet if your diet is not in check and you are not at a low enough body fat percentage, you will not see the abs you are working so hard for.
What Do I Mean By “ Having Your Diet In Check” ?
Simply what this means is if you are looking to get abs you will more than likely have to lose weight.
If you want to lose weight the only way to do that is to be in a calorie deficit.
This means you eat less calories than your body burns in a given day.
Not intermittent fasting.
Not wearing sweat belts that are supposed to “melt the fat away!”.
Not waist trainers that will just magically suffocate your stomach fat away.
You have to be in a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight. After you lose the weight you will then be able to obtain that low enough body fat percentage I was referring to earlier that will allow you to see your abs.
I wrote an entire article on how to set up your diet HERE if you want to incorporate that in your new ab quest.
If you prefer video, I have a whole nutrition series HERE For Free!
The Best Core Exercises For Abs Are More Than Just Looks
The reality is abs are good for more than picking up chicks with.
I said earlier abs are the most important group of muscles in your body and boy did I mean it.
Abs are the powerhouse of your body.
They transfer force between your upper body and lower body.
Take my buddy eight time world champion bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman above.
He would not be able to lift such massive amounts of weights if his abs were not strong as an ox.
If you want to get better at deadlifting, squatting, push ups, overhead presses, or sex.
The answer is to get stronger more powerful abs.
If your midline cannot stabilize you and produce the force necessary to move the weight, you will not be able to get stronger.
Which leads me into my next point.
Abs Protect Your Lower Back
If anyone knows this it would be me as I have struggled with lower back pain for years.
Not coincidentally I had put my ab training on the back burner for years.
If there is one thing I want to get across to you in this article, especially for those of you with lower back pain, make it a priority to train your abs.
I hate training them. They are boring. They suck. They hurt. But the minute I put them back into my training program I immediately started to notice a difference.
(Btw these 3 exercises are the 3 main ones that helped me get back to deadlifting 500lbs, so you know they work).
Your abs help brace and stabilize your spine so you can protect your lower back.
This is not just when you are lifting weights. This is when you are bringing in the groceries. This is when you are picking up your kids. Hell this is when you are vacuuming.
I could go on and on but long story short if you want a healthy lower back strong abs are paramount.
Abs Help Posture
Notice in the picture above our skeleton friend is severely tilted off center.
For the context of this article notice his “anterior pelvic tilt”.
Fancy word for looking like Kim Kardashian.
This is when your pelvis tilts and causes you to be constantly arching your lower back.
What causes this? The main culprit is weak abdominal muscles. If your abs are weak it will pull your butt up causing you to arch your lower back.
This leads will all of the points I made above. You will not have abs you can count on for strength, protecting your lower back, or to be confident in a swimsuit in if you don’t train them properly.
Do you believe me now that your abs are the most important group of muscles on your body?
3 Best Core Exercises For Abs
These exercises are going to cover all of the things we talked about above.
They will ensure you get strong, powerful, protect your lower back, and be confident in a bathing suit ( as long as you are in that calorie deficit 😉 ).
Now let’s cover them.
Deadbug With Weight
This exercise is amazing for not only gaining strength but gaining postural awareness.
It will really teach you what bracing your core really looks like.
Deadbug With Weight Technique Points
- Start lying flat on the floor on your back. Bend your legs and lift your feet off the ground at a 90 degree angle. Grab a weight in your hands, nothing too heavy here. Lift your arms above your directly over face in this position.
- Before you move I want you to push your lower back into the ground and bring your ribs to your belly button. If I was to put my hand under your lower back, I should only be able to get 1-2 fingers halfway in. Think about squeezing my hand under your lower back the entire time.
- Begin to extend one leg while keeping the other bent at a 90 degree angle. Begin to extend your arms behind your head. THE BIGGEST KEY IS TO KEEP YOUR LOWER BACK PRESSED INTO THE GROUND THE ENTIRE TIME.
- Once you have fully extended one leg and your arms behind your head wile maintaining your back flat on the ground, slowly return to the starting position and switch legs.
The most important part of a dead bug as I stated is to make sure you maintain rigidity throughout your core. Aka pushing your back into the ground and bringing your ribs to your belly button.
Think about when you cough. Do it right now. See how that braces your abs? Cough and maintain that core brace the entire time.
Deadbug Programming Recommendations
Frequency: 2-4x per week
Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps each side ** For the reps focus on quality over quantity. Slow, controlled, intentional reps**
Workout Placement: Before Your Training Session will yield the most benefit
Bird Dog With Band
The bird dog is amazing for again teaching core bracing and rigidity, but also learning awareness of your body since you have to move and arm and leg simultaneously.
Bird Dog With Band Technique Points
- Assume the starting position on hands and knees. Make sure your wrists are in line with your elbows and your knees are in line with your hips. Grab a very light band and put around your mid foot and hand.
- Brace your core by once again bringing your ribs to your belly button ever so slightly.
- Slowly begin to move the opposite arm and leg. Again your midline and the rest of your body should not move. Think of your body being locked in concrete stone while just slowly moving your arm and leg.
- Think about reaching your heel straight back to the wall behind you and your hand reaching towards the wall in front of you.
- Slowly return to the starting position again without moving the rest of your body.
Your core should be braced the entire time here as well.
Bird Dog Programming Recommendations
Frequency: 2-4x per week
Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps each leg ** For the reps focus on quality over quantity. Slow, controlled, intentional reps**
Workout Placement: Before Your Training Session will yield the most benefit but these can be done after the workout as well
People say crunches are not the way to get abs.
Well the reverse crunch would be the exception to that. The great part about these is anyone can do them no matter your fitness level.
Reverse Crunch Technique Points
- Lie on the ground and place an anchor to hold onto behind your head. Grab it with your fingers NOT your entire hands. This is simply to anchor you not help in the movement.
- Start with your feet close to your butt. Brace your core before you move your body. Once braced bring your knees to your face keeping your feet tucked close to your butt. Controlling the entire way, do not throw your legs up.
- Control the way down. Take 3-5 seconds on the eccentric, the part where you bring your feet back down. Once you feel your tailbone touch the ground immediately start the next rep.
- Be sure that your abs are doing the work not your arms. Bracing your core before you move your knees will help this. Also make sure you are not feeling your hands grip the anchor excessively.
To progress the reverse crunch you can either
A. Use a lighter anchor
B. Move your feet farther away from your face
Yet be informed that when done correctly and intentionally this movement is incredibly difficult and will leave your abs on fire. Many elite lifters, myself included, really see no need to progress this movement if done correctly and intentionally.
Reverse Crunch Programming Recommendations
Frequency: 1-2x per week
Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps ** For the reps focus on quality over quantity. Slow, controlled, intentional reps**
Workout Placement: Before or After training will be most optimal
3 Best Core Exercises for Abs Of Steel
You have now learned how to see your abs, why they are important, and 3 best core exercises for abs that can get you an impressive yet functional set of abs.
Now is up to you to implement into your routine to see the benefits.
If you want help with your workout program or diet feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I would be happy to talk to you.
I also include these exercises in my 52 FREE Metabolic Strength Workouts if you scroll down to the bottom of this page. They are insanely time efficient and will leave a high calorie burn. Only download if you want some really good workouts.
Beyond that hope this article helped you. Feel free to share with someone who needs to get abs for the summer, who wants to prevent back pain, or just be brutally strong.
Until next time.