Ab & Core Training Exercises

A toned core is sexy and healthy. Body fat around the midsection is associated with risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some types of cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. Strengthening the core muscles also protects and strengthens the back. Toning the core includes exercises to work all the abdominal muscles. Core muscles only need 15 to 20 repetitions for each exercise, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Plank

The plank is a great core strengthener. Start by lying on the stomach and raising the body up onto the forearms, keeping the legs outstretched positioned on the toes. Hold the body rigid using the abdominals and the toes, like a plank. Keep the back straight and hold for 10 seconds. Return to the starting position, rest and repeat.

Obliques

The obliques are located on the left and right side of the core. These muscles are used for twisting motions. Obliques can be exercised using barbells or oblique bars. Choose a comfortable weight and place the bar on the back on the neck. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. The hands should be positioned straight out on the barbell. Rotate the upper body through the waist to one side and then to the other. Repeat for 20 repetitions.

Transverse Abdominals

The transverse abdominals are the deepest stomach muscles and they run under the ribs. They are the most difficult muscles to work. They are connected to the diaphragm and can be worked by blowing up balloons. This stresses the muscle providing exercise.

Another transverse exercise is done by sitting with the spine erect and exhaling while pulling the navel into the spine. Hold for 5 seconds, release, rest and repeat.

Stability Ball Crunch

Crunches target the rectus abdominis, but by using a stability ball, more focus is on the abdominals and less activity is generated in the thigh muscles, according to the American Council on Exercise. The starting position is lying on the stability ball, face up, with the back centered and the legs bent at the knees. Place the hands behind the neck. Lift the head toward the ceiling while tightening the abdominals and return to the starting position. Repeat for 20 repetitions.

Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch targets the lower abdominals. Lying face up, lift the legs perpendicular to the floor while keeping the arms at the sides. Raise the hips off the floor, pushing though the lower abdominal area, return and repeat for 15 to 20 repetitions.

About this Author

Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the \”Sacramento Bee,\” \”People Magazine,\” \”Newsweek\” and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university\’s Health and Fitness Institute.