Your abdomen is made of three main muscles: the rectus abdominis, the obliques, and the intercostals. The rectus abdominis is your main ab muscle, it starts from below your chest down to the pelvis. Its main function is to flex the spinal column, and allow the sternum to move towards the pelvis. The obliques are located on each side, and are attached to the lower eight ribs down till before the pelvis. It flexes and rotates the spinal column. The intercostals are two thin planes of muscle and tendon fibers. They are the muscles in between your ribs, and lift the ribs and draws them together. I have created a workout that targets each of these muscle, in order to define the entire abdomen. Keep in mind that doing a lot of abdominal exercises doesn't mean you're going to get a "six pack". If you want your abdominal muscles to be noticeable, you would have to do a combination of a strict diet, abdominal exercises, and other body exercises to maintain a low body fat percentage.
Step 1: Over-view of Workout
- 25 Knee-in-air sit-ups
- 50 (25 on each side) Elbow to knee sit-ups
- 30 Alternating knee raises
- 30 Bicycles
- 25 toe touches
- 50 (25 on each side) Side leg raises
- 3 sets of 20 second Leg raises
- 30 Knee to elbow plank
- 50 Seated bar twists
- one minute plank
- Stretch: Cobra
Step 2: Knee-in-air Sit-ups
This exercise is for your upper and lower abs.
Start on flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, elbows towards the sky. Raise your legs, feet crossed, with knees bent so you form 90 degrees. Then, crunch up raising your shoulders, and head off the ground. Once you raise up, hold it for one second, and slowly lower back down. You should crunch up slowly, with your abs flexed. Do 30 repetitions.
Step 3: Elbow to Knee Sit-ups
This exercise is for your upper and lower abs.
Start with your hands behind your head, and with your legs scooted up. Rest one leg on top of a knee. Then, crunch up with your opposite elbow to the leg you propped up on your knee. Flex your abs, and do it slowly. Do this 25 times. Then switch leg and elbow and, repeat for 25 repetitions.
Step 4: Alternating Knee Raises
This exercise is for your lower abs.
Lie back on the floor supporting your self with your elbows. Place hands underneath buttocks for support. Lift both legs off the floor, just a couple of inches. Bring one knee into your chest, as far as you can, and out again. Then bring in the other leg in, and out. Alter between legs with a total of 30 repetitions (15 for each knee). The slower you do this exercise, the better.
Step 5: Bicycles
This exercise is for the intercostals, obliques, lower and upper abs.
Lie on your back, hands behind head. Lift feet a few inches off the ground. Bring in one knee towards chest. At the same time crunch up to bring in the opposite elbow towards knee. Try to touch the elbow with the knee. Then lower out and bring in the opposite knee with elbow. Alter between knees for a total of 30 repetitions (15 for each knee).
Step 6: Toe Touches
This exercise is for the upper and lower abs.
Lie down, and raise both legs up to fully extend the legs. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible, but it's okay if your knees are slightly bent. Then crunch up to touch your hands towards your toes. If this is too hard, or if you have back problems, you can use the wall to support your legs. Do 25 repetitions.
Step 7: Side Leg Raises
This exercise is for your obliques and intercostals.
Lie on your side with elbows propped up as support. Bend the leg that on the ground inward to form 90 degrees. Your other leg should be raised, not touching the floor. Then, raise your leg up as high as you can and slowly come down. Your hips shouldn't move, and your abs should be flexed. Do 25 raises. Then, switch sides and repeat with other leg (25 repetitions as well).
Step 8: Leg Raises
This exercise is for lower abs.
Lie flat on the floor with hands by your side, and your back flat on the floor. Raise your feet about 6 inches off the floor, and hold for 20 seconds. If this is to hard, place hands under buttocks. Do 3 sets of 20 second leg raises.
Step 9: Alternating Knee to Elbow Plank
This exercise is for obliques, intercostals, upper and lower abs.
Start in a plank position, facing the floor with your elbows propped up. Your back should not curve in, and should be straight. Your abs should be flexed. Then bring in one knee to the same sided elbow, and back out. Alternate between legs for a total of 30 repetitions (15 for each knee).
Step 10: Seated Bar Twists
This exercise is for the obliques.
Sit up the edge of bench or chair. Use a broom, or any long, lightweight bar and prop it behind your head. The bar should be comfortably placed on the back of your shoulders with gripped hands facing the front. Slowly twist to one side as far as you can, with abs flexed. Then go the other way. Keep going side to side slowly for a total of 50 twists (25 on each side). At the beginning you should go slow, as you start to warm-up, you can pick up the pace.
Step 11: Plank
This exercise is for upper and lower abs.
This exercise is a simple plank. Prop yourself on you elbow, face forward. Back should be straight, not curved down. Feet should be shoulder width apart, abs flexed, and hold for one minute. Make sure to breathe in and out throughout.
Step 12: Cobra
This last exercise is just to stretch out your abdominal muscles. Lie down on arms by your side next to your chest. Then push up, eyes towards the sky and hold for at least 10 seconds. Bend as back as you can to feel the stretch.