Train your abs!

Thought I would include a pic of my boyfriend and I today:)  HAHAHAHAHA

How many of you strive for a flat stomach or want a “six-pack”? I do!  I can remember seeing my abs (briefly) when I was training for my fitness competition (following a strict diet, doing 90 minutes of cardio a day) but to be honest I wasn’t having much fun nor did I have much energy!  Personally, I am much happier accepting that while my abs may not be ripped (like the girls in fitness magazines and in the photo to the left) I aim to have a strong core as this is much more useful than having a visible ‘six pack’.  Read on to learn why having a strong core is important!

Core training should be the main focus of  all your workouts yet many people aren’t sure how to “train their core” in order to develop it.  Exercises designed for building balance and strength, and ones that can be done while using a BOSU ball or a stability ball are great ways to strengthen your core (and tone your abs).

Also, using free weights will allow for better results than using (boring) machines.

The reason core strength is so important is that almost every movement we make is initiated in the core.  Squats, lunges, twists, running, swimming, and lifting weights – almost everything starts with the abs, hips and lower back, which is where the ‘core’ of the body is.  Yoga practitioners, as well as dancers and athletes, have always known the benefits.

Here is a quick list of benefits to having a strong core:

– Reduction of injury risk

– More comfort with sitting (either in office chairs, or just in general)

– Serves to increase balance, letting you isolate other muscle groups

– Increases energy

– Improves posture

– Aids in sports development

Now if this list doesn’t motivate you to train your core I don’t know what will?? Maybe a trip somewhere warm over the next few months where you will be baring your belly on the beach?

As a trainer I always focus on core training with my clients.  The hardest thing for most people to do is to learn to “engage” their core.  Some have no idea how to “turn on” their abs so this makes training your core very difficult.  Here is a simple exercise you can try at home to practice and make sure you know how to use your abs.

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

2. Place both hands (palms on the ground) under the curve in your low back.

3. Press down on your hands by flattening your back and tucking your tailbone (this will help to engage your core or your “transverse abdominus”).

4. Hold for 10-20 seconds.

5. Release and repeat 10 times.

6. For a challenge try doing it with your legs straight up in the air. Then try lowering one leg at a time (with a flat back) or both legs.  If this is too hard try it with your legs bent 🙂

A very simple exercise yet if done slowly and properly it can be a great ab workout.

Here are my favourite ab exercises that I find very effective if I FOCUS on every muscle in my core while I do them…

Plank (On both forearms)  Hold for 30-60 secs

Side Plank with a lift (Plank on one arm with a hip lift and drop)

Full sit ups (with feet unhooked/unsupported)

Mountain Climbers (Like a plank but on your hands and bring one knee at a time into your chest)

Leg raises (lying on your back or using the Captain’s Chair)

Bicycle Crunches

Reverse crunches

Do these exercises 3 times a week, 3 sets of 12-15 reps and if you don’t feel your abs after this you need to make sure you are doing them properly.

Now some of you may spend HOURS doing cardio and abs but at the end of the day your body responds to change right?  So if you find that you are doing the same routine CHANGE IT UP!  Change the intensity, number of reps/sets, rest period, increase the weight, or try a new activity (ie yoga or pilates)!  If you want some help with changing up your program (or want help designing one) feel free to email me  at or message me on Facebook.

And the number one BEST way to have great looking abs is to EAT PROPERLY and GET ENOUGH SLEEP although this is what most people usually forget.  Try eating clean for a month (no cheats, no alcohol) and sleeping 7-8 hours a night and you will be surprised with what is hiding underneath…

What are your favourite ab exercises?


Les 🙂


5 thoughts on “Train your abs!

  1. Kaytay says:

    I would definitely have to agree that mixing up the exercises is very important. As a person who exercises regularly and does abs about 3 times a week, some exercises can become tedious and after awhile i start to feel as though i need more of a challenge….so changing up your routine and finding other ways to challenge your abs is so important. Great tips sis! Keep it up!

  2. Ok, the exercise on engaging your core (lie on stomach…) is actually way more tiring than it sounds! I still do this every week.

  3. Bill West says:

    Hi Leslie
    My favorite ab exercise is spelling the alphabet (CAPITAL letters) with my feet about 8 inches of the ground while holding a medicine ball at arm’s length then immediately do as many leg ups touching the medicine ball to your feet. When I say favorite I mean of course the one that I hate the most too 😉
    My favorite core exercise is to lay a 45 lb plate on the ground stand on one foot and then pivot forward at the hips until my chest is parallel with the ground and the opposite leg is fully extended then I grab the plate and lift it to my chest as many times as possible without setting the other foot down. My record is 11 each leg. The other day at the gym some ‘hulk’ saw me doing this and had to try, he couldn’t even do it once – CORE IS KING!

  4. Jodi Wilson says:

    As with any type training, core training is a million times more fun when you are doing it with someone.
    Also: For all you aquafitters out there ..(tonight, 5:30 St. Laurent… lol) – exercise in the water is really great for your core. You have to engage your core the whole time to prevent hyperextension caused by water movements. Example: holding a noodle arm width, assume a plank with arms holding noodle pointed directly towards bottom of the pool. Plank should be on an angle. Perform upright rows or mountain climbers in this position for 1 minute.

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