How do I target my abs/core?

Your abs/core is being worked each an everyday.  When you stand up, your core is working to keep your body upright.  Ways to focus on working your ab/core would include completing variations of planks and bridges.  These two types of exercises will help focus on all muscles within your core and help you build a strong core.  In addition, any form of exercise that requires balance/stability will also trigger these muscles.

If you are looking for more definition then focus on your eating habits.  Cut down on grain type products and focus on eating more vegetables and lean proteins.

Your core is where the body's center of gravity is located and where all movement begins, so it's very important to have a strong core.  Also note that your core is more than just your abs but also includes muscles in the back and legs, all of which should be included in your workouts to ensure proper muscle balance and posture.

Here are a couple of exercises to try: (Make sure you are breathing!!)

Lie supine (on your back) on the floor with knees bent, feet flat, toes pointing straight ahead, and arms by your sides.

Draw navel in.
Lift one foot off the flow only as high as can be controlled.  Maintain the drawing-in maneuver.
Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
Slower lower.
Repeat on the opposite leg.
(Perform 12-25 reps)

Lie prone (face down) on the floor with feet together and forearms on the ground.

Draw abs in and activate gluteals.
Life entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on forearms and toes.
Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
Slowely return body to the ground, keeping chin tucked and back flat.
(Perform 12-25 reps)

There are plenty of great exercises to target your abs/core. You can think of the core as not just the abs but the hips/butt and low back.

Floor bridges-lie on your back with your heels under your knees and lift your hips by squeezing your glutes.  Hold your hips in line with your knees and shoulders for  5 seconds when at the top. Keeping your spine still, moving only from the hips, slowly lower your rear end towards the floor. Pause for a one count and repeat. Perform 15-20 repetitions for 2-4 sets resting 30 seconds in between sets.

Bird Dogs- get on all fours with your ears in a straight line with your shoulders and hips. Use your abdominals to hold your spine and ribs still while you raise one arm out diagonally and pause for 2 seconds. Alternate arms transitioning from arm to arm slowly. If this is easy then try extending one hip with your ankle no higher than your hip. Very important to keep your hips level and the low back neutral (avoid arching by tightening your abs). Alternate legs slowly. If you need a greater challenge, try raining the opposite arm and leg simultaneously and pausing at the top for a three count. Whichever version you try, perform each set for 30-45 seconds instead of counting repetitions for a change of pace. Perform 2-3 sets.

These are the basics. Once you master these you can add in other exercises to target the abs, but build your foundation here first to protect your low back long term. It is common for people to start out with crunches and they do not have the proper strength or endurance of their smaller stabilizer muscles and they end up causing themselves low back tightness and even pain.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

To target your abs/core, try the dead bug exercise, punching bag crunches and, when you're ready, the Turkish getup.
The Dead Bug, a Pilates Move: Lie on your back with all fours straight up. Lower your left leg and right arm at the same time, and then bring them back up. Then repeat with opposite arm and leg.
Punching Bag Crunches: Do a traditional crunch, with your knees bent and feet on the floor. When you crunch up, have someone lightly punch your abs (while wearing boxing gloves, preferably). That forces your abdominals to stay tight and contracted throughout the movement. The abs-alicious Janet Jackson has been reported to do these. Also try the dead bug and advanced Turkish getup exercises.
The Turkish Getup: Lie flat on back with one arm straight up perpendicular to the floor (you can be holding a weight). While keeping your arm up above your head the whole time, stand up, using your legs and free hand. Then get back into the down position (all while keeping arm up). It works the entire core - and is a true body-burner.

You: Being Beautiful - The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

More About this Book

You: Being Beautiful - The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty

Most people think that beauty revolves around such things as lipstick, sweet eyes, or skinny jeans -- all those things that we can see (and obsess over) in the mirror. But the fact is that beauty...

Continue Learning about Ab/Core Exercises

3 Exercises for a Flatter Belly
3 Exercises for a Flatter Belly
With beach weather just around the corner, who isn't thinking about shedding a few pounds and tackling that muffin top? So we hit the floor and bang o...
Read More
What is an ab exercise that can be done any time?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
A great ab exercise you can do anywhere is the Prone-Iso-Abs exercise, also known as the Plank. To p...
More Answers
What can I do to flatten my belly quickly?
Chris PowellChris Powell
To flatten your belly quickly, there are a few key things you can do to help lose some water weight ...
More Answers
Is There a Way to Tighten My Belly Without Using My Neck?
Is There a Way to Tighten My Belly Without Using My Neck?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.