A quick science lesson: your ‘abs’ is actually shorthand for one big muscle – the rectus abdominus – which runs down each side of your abdomen.
It’s separated in the middle by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba.
This line, and those that run horizontally across the muscle, create the six distinct parts of a six-pack.
It’s an important postural muscle responsible for flexing your spine forwards. It also assists with breathing, stabilises the torso during exercise and protects your internal organs from impact.
Because it’s a large muscle, covering a wide area, endless sit-ups aren’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to attack your abs from every angle. And this circuit does just that – here’s how to do it…
Round 1: 45 secs on each exercise with 15 secs of rest between each exercise.
Round 2: 30 secs on each exercise with 10 secs of rest between each exercise.
Round 3: 15 secs on each exercise with 5 secs of rest between each exercise.
(Rest 1-2 mins between rounds)
1a. V Sit-Up
- Lie on your back with legs out flat and your arms extended overhead.
- Keeping your arms close to your ears, contract your abs to press your lower back into the ground.
- Point your toes and, squeezing your quads and glutes, lift your legs and upper back off the ground, while reaching your hands forward to meet your feet.
- Keep your core engaged as you slowly lower to the starting position.
1b. Reverse Snow Angel
- Begin by lying flat on your stomach, with arms by your side and palms facing the floor (for comfort, you may want to have a towel positioned underneath your forehead).
- Now, squeeze your shoulder blades together while lifting your hands a few inches off the floor.
- Keeping your shoulders squeezed and your hands off the floor, move your arms out to the side and up so that they are in line with your ears.
- Pause here for a moment before returning to the starting position. Try to keep your hands off the floor for the entire set.
- Rest your forearms and palms on the floor, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders so your arms are parallel.
- Extend your legs behind you. Your body should form one straight line from your head to your heels, with no lifting or sagging at the waist and no rounding through the back.
- Squeeze your entire core, your glutes and your quads, and tuck your backside under a little to keep your lower back in good alignment.
- Position your head so your neck is in a neutral position and your gaze is on your hands. Hold this position.
1d. Ups and Downs
- Lie face up with your legs extended and hands either at your sides or tucked underneath your hips for extra support.
- Lift your legs off the ground (keeping them together and as straight as possible) until your feet are roughly six inches from the floor. This is your starting position.
- Hold there for a second, then raise your legs to about 12 inches from the floor (again, keeping them together and as straight as possible). Hold there for a second before returning your legs to six inches off the floor. That’s one rep.
- Remember, don’t let your feet touch the floor. Instead, keep them hovering around six inches off the ground throughout.
- As you perform this move, be sure to keep your lower back flat on the floor (if you’re struggling to do so, don’t lower your legs so far).
1e. Butterfly Sit-Up
- Lie face up with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent.
- Reach your arms overhead so that the backs of your hands are touching the floor. This is your starting position.
- Use your core to roll your body up into a sitting position, then reach forward to touch your toes.
- Slowly lower yourself to the starting position before beginning the next rep.
1f. Windscreen Wiper
- Lie on an exercise mat and make a ‘T’ shape with your upper body by extending your arms to the side and keeping the back of your hands firmly fixed to the ground.
- Lift your legs so the soles of your feet face the ceiling (bending your knees a little is fine).
- Pushing your lower back into the floor slightly, begin slowly lowering your legs to the left, pausing a few inches above the ground.
- Repeat the movement from the left all the way over to the right, again pausing a few inches above the ground. That’s 1 rep.
- Lie face down on a mat or flat surface, with your arms outstretched and thumbs pointing up to the ceiling.
- Keeping your arms straight throughout, raise your head, arms (thumbs still pointing up to the ceiling) and legs as high as you can off the ground.
- Hold for five seconds and return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep.
1h. Hollow Hold
- Lie on your back with legs and arms extended.
- Squeeze your abs, quads and glutes, then lift your legs and shoulders off the ground. Keep your head in a neutral position so you’re not straining your neck.
- Your legs and the middle of your back should both be off the ground. Only your lower back and hips should be in contact with the ground.
- Hold this position.
1i. W Crunch
- Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your legs together, slowly lift them off the floor until they form a 45-degree angle to your torso. Engage your entire core, keep your back in alignment, and balance on your tailbone.
- Reach your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor (palms down). If you feel you need some extra support, place your hands on the floor, underneath your hips.
- Hold here for a moment then straighten out your legs, while also lowering your upper body. Both your shoulder blades and legs should hover a couple of inches off the floor.
- Hold for a moment, then lift your legs and torso back to the start position. That’s 1 rep.
1j. Russian Twist
- Sit up straight with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your legs together, slowly lift them off the floor until they form a 45-degree angle to your torso. Engage your entire core, keep your back in good alignment and balance on your tailbone.
- Reach your arms straight out, clasp your hands in front of you and twist at the waist towards one side, moving your arms in the same direction.
- Immediately twist to the opposite side and repeat the same arm movement. That’s 1 rep.
- Continue alternating sides. (Straighten your legs and hover your feet above the floor for more of a challenge.)
Model: Lawrence Price (W Model Management) | Photography: Eddie Macdonald