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Rock-hard abs in 6 moves

6 moves to build rock-hard abs… minus the sit-ups!

We all do it – head to the gym and spend hours working out our abs in isolation, in search of the ever-elusive washboard stomach. But what most of us don’t realise is that your core is made up of many muscles – including your abdominals, obliques, lower back, even your glutes – and is the trunk that controls your whole body and the way it moves. So why are you working out only some of your core muscles?

A Harvard Medical School article, ‘Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups’, says that ‘classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favour’. Why? ‘Sit-ups are hard on your back – they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors … Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout like plank exercises helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles you use every day.’ Besides the risk of back injury, traditional core exercises can also be one hell of a pain in the neck if performed incorrectly. Fortunately there are safer – and more effective – ways to get the flat tum you’re after.


1. Plank

Balance on your forearms and toes. Your body should be in a straight line and your neck in a neutral position. Don’t let your hips sag or stick up in the air. Now engage your core and maintain this position for up to 60 seconds. 


2. Side plank

Lying on your side, rest your weight on your forearm on the ground, making sure your elbow is directly in line with your shoulder, and place your other hand on your hip. Stack your top foot on the other and lift your hips up to the ceiling so your body forms a straight line. No sagging! Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.


3. Seated knee tuck

Sit down with your hands on the floor. Lift your feet off the ground and bend your knees. Extend your legs out in front of you, keeping them as straight as possible. Make sure your back stays straight! 


4. Dead bug

Lie on your back and extend your arms and legs towards the ceiling. Lower your right leg and extend your left arm behind your head. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. 


5. Russian twist

Sit down, bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor. Hold your hands out in front of you and twist your upper body to the right, Go back to the starting position and repeat on your left side. 


6. Flutter kick

Lying on your back, place your arms at your side and lift both legs a few centimetres off the ground. Lift your head, but keep your back flat against the floor. Alternate kicking your legs up and down, never letting them touch the ground. 


Words: Andrea Graham | Image: Unsplash