Abs are the ultimate dream for everyone who is into fitness or has just started working out. Well, it’s not an easy job and most of you will definitely overwork yourselves for the six-pack and eight-pack abs.
Like they say, ‘Abs are made in the kitchen, not at the gym’! While you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise every day, for abs, you need the right diet apart from the ab exercises. You need to burn calories and the extra fat to make your abs visible.
This guide on abs workout is for both men as well as women. It contains not just the exercises that your gym instructor will ask you to do, but also various yoga poses and diet ideas to get your abs naturally, fast and in a healthy way.
Get rid of the excess fats for the abs to show up. Though you are already on your way to maintaining a healthy lifestyle once you’ve decided to lose weight, here are some of the best exercises for abs that can help you get your perfect abs.
Crunches are one of the most popular exercises for abs. The trick here is to do the crunches with the right technique.
Even 10-25 crunches a day will work just as much. And don’t just focus on the abs workout. Crunches are one of the best ab workouts that will help you achieve crisp abs.
Steps to do the crunches properly:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The feet must be hip-width apart.
- Place your hands behind your head without lacing your fingers together. Make sure the thumbs are behind the ears.
- Hold your elbows out to the sides and tilt your chin a little bit.
- Once you are in position, curl forward so your head, neck and shoulder blades are off the floor and towards your knees.
- Hold still for a moment and get back in position slowly.
Doing crunches will strengthen your abdomen muscles and increase your core strength. But remember, doing this ab exercise works better when your belly fat is not very high.
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Check out this video to avoid some mistakes to avoid while doing crunches. It’s for both men and women.
Leg raises should be given approximately 15 minutes in your ab workout schedule. You need to include cardio in your workouts to burn calories and to benefit the abs workout.
The leg raises help to strengthen your core muscles and your lower abs. It might be difficult in the beginning but once you master it and see the benefits yourself, you’ll enjoy it.
Steps to do the leg raise:
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and parallel to each other.
- Your hands need to be on your side with palms facing the floor.
- Slowly raise your legs so they are perpendicular to the floor without the help of your hands.
- Hold still for a moment and slowly bring your legs down.
It is a myth that if you do crunches, you will also have to perform reverse crunches. If you do crunches, there is absolutely no need to do reverse crunches. Just so you know, reverse crunches can be painful.
But it’s a good sign if your abdominal muscles ache; it means you are doing the exercise correctly. A lot of people mistake it for stomach ache and stop doing this exercise midway. Do at least 15-20 repetitions.
Steps to do reverse crunches properly:
- Lie on the floor on your back with legs straight and palm to your side facing the floor.
- Lift your legs and bend your knees so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Now inhale and lift your lower body towards the torso, exhale and get back into the starting position.
- Make sure you breathe right while doing all the exercises.
Check out this video of ab exercise for better understanding:
Dumbbell side bend
Dumbbell side bend is yet another exercise that can help shape your abs. It’s a simple exercise. All you have to do is hold a dumbbell in one hand, grip it tightly and bend to one side. You can increase the intensity of the workout by increasing the pound of the dumbbells. Start with the lighter one.
Steps to do the dumbbell side bends:
- Stand straight with feet at shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your left hand.
- Keep your back straight, head up and bend your waist to your right side.
- Breathe in as you bend to your side and hold the position for a few moments before you get back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement by holding the dumbbell in your right hand and bending to your left side.
- Do about 15-20 repetitions every day.
Doing this exercise will tighten your ab muscles from the side, which are very important for perfect abs.
Check this out: How to Lose Arm Fat Quickly at Home in 32 Days
Yoga poses to include in your Ab workout:
Yoga has been proven effective to keep a person healthy both physically and mentally. Including yoga in your morning rituals is the most refreshing and one of the best exercises for abs. Check out some of these yoga poses to help you get six pack abs.
Virabhadrasana 1 or Warrior Pose 1
Steps to do the Warrior Pose 1
- Stand straight with your feet together and arms by your side.
- Lunge with your right leg forward in a 90-degree angle and keep the left foot behind at a 15-degree angle.
- Stretch your arms above your heads.
- Turn your left leg into a 45-60 degrees angle and right leg to a 90 degrees angle.
- Inhale as you twist your upper body and arch your back.
- Hold this position for five breaths and get back to the starting position.
Check out this abs workout video to get better understanding of this exercise
Naukasana or Boat Pose
Holding your pose in naukasana and balancing can be very challenging, yet, it is an easy ab workout that anyone can do. Try to hold this pose for 8-10 seconds and repeat it five times. Though you must avoid this asana if you are suffering from a low blood pressure, severe headache or a migraine, or spinal injuries.
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Steps to do the Naukasana:
- Lie down flat on your yoga mat with your arms straight and legs together.
- Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, lift your chest and feet off the ground and stretch your arms towards your feet.
- You will feel some tension in your abdominal muscle area as they contract.
- Hold this position for a few moments and get back into the starting position slowly as you exhale.
- Do not do more than 4 repetitions daily.
Vashishthasana or Side Plank Pose
A variation of the plank pose, Vashishthasana, strengthens the arms, legs and core. It also helps burn calories and improves your sense of balance. Hold this pose for five deep breaths and repeat on the other side.
Steps to do the Side Plank Pose:
- Lie down on your stomach, bend your elbows and place your palm below your shoulders.
- Tuck your toes in and push yourself off the floor with your pelvis. It needs to be in the same alignment as it was when you were lying down.
- Now twist your upper body to the left slowly as you release your left hand from the floor. While you’re at it, turn your right foot to the outer edge and place your left foot on the right one.
- Try to balance and do not let your hips or pelvis drop.
- Look straight and hold the pose for five breaths before you get back into the starting position.
- Do the same thing with the other side.
Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana stretches your core muscles and hips. It also strengthens your lower back and chest which helps you get closer to your goal of getting the perfect abs. Hold this pose for 10-15 seconds and make sure you keep your thighs off the floor to stretch as much as possible.
Steps to do the Bhujangasana:
- Lie flat on your stomach and place your head on the floor.
- Your feet and heels must slightly touch each other.
- Place your palms next to your shoulders with your elbows as close to your body as possible, inhale and lift your upper body slowly starting with your head.
- Make sure your navel is still in touch with the floor and keeps breathing while you hold the position.
- Your hands must be straight and elbows locked placing equal pressure on both hands.
- Get out of the pose by breathing out and gently coming back to the lying position.
Setubandhasana or Bridge Pose
Setubandhasana is one the best asanas to strengthen your spine and hip joints. A stronger spine helps you develop abs and increases your stamina. If you have a neck or spine injury, it’s best to avoid this yoga pose.
Hold this pose for 5-15 breaths. This yoga pose improves blood circulation and fights fatigue, keeping you active and fit all day.
Steps to do the Setubandhasana:
- Lie on your back on the floor with knees bent, feet facing the floor and keep your palms at your side facing the floor.
- Use your arms to push your pelvis off the floor towards the ceiling and exhale as you do this.
- Make sure that your head and neck are still on the floor while the rest of your body is in the air.
- Hold this pose for five breaths before you get back in position.
Diet for Abs
To achieve perfect abs, you need to focus on abs diet as well as exercises for abs. Do not give up in just a few weeks if you are not seeing the results. Give yourself and your body at least 3-4 months to show results. The results will definitely be worth all the hard work and patience if you are determined.
What to eat:
Most people think that sweating out at the gym is the best way to get abs. Intense workouts make you stronger but overworking your muscles can do more harm than good. Doing 1000 repetitions a day won’t yield any results if your diet is a disaster.
The secret to getting your dream perfect abs is to eat everything that can not only fulfil your nutritional requirement but also helps you burn calories. You don’t have to quit everything, just replace them with alternative food items that are healthier.
- Nuts and seeds
Almonds, Cashew nuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, etc. help lose weight even though a lot of nutritionists disagree with this. Nuts help you lose weight only if it is consumed in moderation, about a handful every day.
Most nuts contain monounsaturated fats (the good fats) that help you burn calories, strengthen your bones and help you focus on your abs. They also reduce your hunger pangs or cravings which mean you can happily focus on your diet. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds also help you lose weight.
- Low-fat dairy products
Low-fat yoghurt, milk or cheese (not all of these together) helps lose weight and contribute to the calcium intake. Calcium helps the body break down fats efficiently which further aids in weight loss. And since it makes your bones stronger, you can aim at increasing the intensity of your workouts to get abs.
- Replace white rice with brown rice or Arborio rice
Quitting rice is one of the most difficult things to do, especially if you are someone who loves to eat it every day. White rice has a high glycemic index (GI) and increases the sugar level in your body.
An increased sugar level will definitely not let you lose weight or workout effectively. The good news is that you won’t have to quit it. Just replace it with brown rice or Arborio rice (the one that is used to make risotto). Brown rice speeds up metabolism are low in calories and rich in carbohydrates.
- Have fruits instead of fruit juices
Love your freshly squeezed fruit juice after an intense workout at the gym? Replacing it with freshly cut fruits instead of juices reduce your overall sugar and calorie intake. Fruits are rich in fibre, antioxidants and Vitamin C.
A bowl of fresh fruits is satiating and helps to achieve your weight loss goal faster, leading to faster showing up of abs.
- Green leafy vegetables
Salads are like saviours if you are on a weight loss plan. Kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots among others are great to aid weight loss. They are, again, rich in antioxidants, help build your immune system and keep heart diseases away.
A combination of abs workout, yoga exercises and abs diet are a must if you want those crispy and sharp abs, irrespective of whether you are a man or woman. You don’t need a gym or gym instructor to get those perfect abs.
Following this guide on abs workout consistently and strictly is the key. If you have any queries or stories to share, do let us know in the comments below.