It’s the time of the year when everybody craves to show off that perfect sixpack and that tight, lean body at the beach. At least, that is what we see on television and the internet. Basically every celebrity or social influencers that spend some time in the gym, want to show it off during the summer. And let’s be honest, nothing shows a healthy and trained body better than superb abs. So how do we get there? How do you get those great abs and that sweet sixpack? Where do you start? We will help you out with the best beginner ab workout routine at home.
So in all honesty, we don’t promote that you should aim for these “perfect” body’s you see on TV and online. Please know that most of these people work out for a living or have a personal trainer that helps them every single day. Abs are just a very popular thing in the world of fitness. New ab routines and exercises are being developed each year, to create those tight abdominal muscles. Some might work, some are just ineffective and some might even cause injury.
That being said, it is obviously very possible to get yourselves some great abs. Although things might seem harder during the coronavirus crisis and gyms being closed, you can work on your abs at home. Even if you have no idea how to start, you are totally able to create a rock hard sixpack! We will help you with a great, effective and save workout. So let’s do it!
A sixpack starts in the kitchen
First and foremost, it is very important to know that you create a sixpack in the kitchen, not just in the gym or with exercises at home. Sure, working our helps, but when you don’t pay attention to what you eat, you can work out all day, every day, and still lack improvement. Think about it; when your muscles are covered by a layer of body fat, it is hard to actually see them. The higher your body fat percentage, the less you will see any abs. So you do train your sixpack in the gym, or at home, but make them visible by eating healthy and lowering your body fat percentage.
The abdominal muscles and their function
The best known and most prominent abdominal muscle is the rectus abdominis. This is the long muscle that vertically connects the pubis and the fifth, sixth and seventh ribs. This muscle is divided by the linea alba – or white line – right down the middle and in three horizontal sheaths, which make the actual sixpack. The rectus abdominis helps flexing the spinal column and during bending motions. Furthermore is stabilizes the trunks during movement.
Next we have the external obliques. This pair of muscles can be found on each side of the rectus abdominis. They run diagonally down and inwards from the lower ribs to the pelvis. They form the letter V. These muscles allow flexing of the spine, as well of torso rotations and sideway bending.
Below the external obliques, we find the internal obliques. These lower fibers of these muscles have almost horizontal muscle fibers. The internal obliques run perpendicular to the external obliques, from the thoracolumbar fascia (lower back) to the iliac crest (upper part of the hip bone) to the linea alb. These muscles have an important role in respiration, helping with the volume of the chest cavity during exhalation. Furthermore they play a role in flexing of the spinal column and sideways bending, as well as compression of the abdomen.
The transversus abdominis is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles. It is positioned around the torso from the front to the back. Its muscle fibers run horizontally and play a role in respiration and spine stabilization.
The best beginner workout routine at home
Now that we know how the abs are actually working and which muscles have what function, we can look at how you can train them properly.
As your abs are a complex muscle group, it is important to work them from all angles. This means you will have to work them front to back, side to side and diagonally. This means that you can stop doing just crunches and sit-ups. I can imagine that many people will like this article already with such news. While crunches and sit-ups do work, they only train one part of your abs. So in order to achieve that superb sixpack, we need to switch things up. This is more great news, because it will make this workout not so boring and actually great fun to do.
Furthermore, you will not need an expensive gym and all sorts of equipment to perform our ab workout. All you will need is a yoga mat and your favourite music. There are variations to this workout which can be done with a full home gym setup. Read here about home gym equipment.
The whole workout takes about 10 minutes. Ready? Let’s get into the action and start!
You can do each of these exercises for a total of one set of 10 reps. If this becomes too easy, turn up the number of reps or sets. Rest between each exercise for 15-30 seconds and then perform the next one. To increase the difficulty of the whole workout, you can do another, or maybe even 3 sets of each exercise. Don’t rush it though and master the workout first.
Abs workout, exercise one: the reverse crunch
According to a study by the American Council on Exercise, this is one of the most effective abdominal exercises. It will make your fourpack into a devined sixpack.
Start by laying on your back in the classic crunch position. Legs and feet flat on the floor and hands underneath your head. Next, pull in the belly, while pressing your back into the floor. Lift your legs off the floor and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle, while keeping them together. Use your abs and core to draw your knees towards your chest. Your tailbone will lift from the floor. While doing all this, perform a traditional crunch where you lift your shoulders and head slightly off the floor, using only your abs. After this movement, return to the starting position, but stop when your feet are just above the floor. This way, your abs will stay engaged. Repeat the movement and make sure your do each movement without any momentum and solely relying on your core and abs to do the work.
Abs workout, exercise two: bicycle crunch
One of our personal favourites, the bicycle crunch mainly targets the lower abs and obliques. Furthermore it strengthens your core.
Start again by laying on the floor on your back. Your feet are in a 90 degree angle off the floor and your hands are behind your head. Lift your head from the ground. Extend your right leg forward and move your right elbow towards your left knee. Do not pull your head inwards to your belly and let your core and abs make the rotation. After this movement, you will start the alternating “bicycling” movement by doing the same with your other leg and elbow.
Abs workout, exercise three: plank
A classic movement for your core and abs. It is simple, yet effective. You can do this either on your forearms (beginner), or on your hands (advanced). Place your hands, or your forearms with elbows in the same position, directly under your shoulders. Put your toes onto the floor and squeeze your glutes to stabilize your body and straighten your whole body. Your head should be in line with your back and form a straight line.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
If this is too much for you, you can consider the knee plank, where you keep your body straight, but rest on your knees rather than your toes.
Abs workout, exercise four: side plank
This is basically an extension of the regular plank exercise. Start in the exact same position as the plank, but now bring your legs together until your heels touch. Lean to the right while you lift up your left arm to the ceiling. Do this until you are balanced on your right hand. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then switch to the other side.
If this is too hard, you can try leaving your whole underarm on the floor, instead of just your hand.
Abs workout, exercise five: bird dog plank
Yet another great variation on the basic plank exercise for your abs. The bird dog plank targets the upper and lower abs, as well as the transversus abdominis.
Start again in the regular plank position. Now lift your right arm and left leg from the floor and stretch them until they are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position and alternate with your other arm and leg.
Abs workout, exercise six: seated rotation
This abs exercise will give you a good burn, so prepare to get your abs worked.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs in front of you. Bend your legs and lift your heels a couple of inches off the floor. Lean back with your upper body at a 45 degree angle and extend your arms straight in front of you, as much as possible parallel to the floor. Now rotate your torso to the left side and pause for a moment. Then rotate your torso the right side and hold again for a moment. Continue this until you have each side 10 times. While performing this abs exercise, make sure you are rotating your obliques and keeping your core tight.
Abs workout, exercise seven: V-up
The V-up, or jack-knife is a sort of advanced sit-up. This will push you to the limits and builds your core and upper and lower abs greatly. It’s a pretty simple movement, but be sure to perform it properly.
Start by lying down on your back. Your arms (positioned next to your head) and legs are extended and slightly off the floor. Now you make one movement, in which you lift your torso and legs as you try to touch your toes with your hands. This will make the V shape with your torso and legs. Once you touch your toes (or legs, if you are a bit rusty), you lower your body back down and perform the next movement.
Abs workout, exercise eight: heel taps
Another fun and great exercise for your abs. This one is particularly easy to perform, but effective non the less.
All you need to do is lay down on your back and bend your knees, so that your heels are close to your glutes. Lift your shoulders off the floor and reach to touch your left heel with your left hand. While doing so, you should feel your obliques work hard. After you touched your left heel, move to the other side and touch your right heel with your right hand. This is one repetition.
Final words on our beginner ab workout
We have shown you a great beginner workout for your abdominal muscles and core. When you do these exercises 2-3 times a week, you will soon start to see – and feel – your very own sixpack. As we mentioned before, the lower your body fat percentage, the more visible your abs will be. A super low body fat percentage isn’t super healthy and good for anybody, so there is no need to push it to the extreme. Furthermore, not one body is identical to another. Thus 17% body fat on one person can look very different than for another person.
For men, around 14-20% body fat will show your abs, but still keep you healthy. This is also very much doable for almost anybody.
For women, this is between 14 and 24% body fat. For more information on the ideal body fat percentage, read this article here.
For starters, just don’t focus too much on your body fat, but focus on having fun and eating healthy. These things are the most important and will help you see results quickly enough. Enjoy!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us via our contact page.