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New Years Abs: Four Exercises to Get You Going

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As the year draws to an end, millions of people up and down the country are deciding that the time is right for a fitness overhaul.

To get you started, here are some exercises you can introduce to your New Year gym routine in order to get your 2018 ab-mission well underway.

Hanging leg raises

Hanging leg raises are a fantastic workout for the abs, not least of all because they require minimal equipment and can be scaled up without much trouble as they get easier to perform.

The basic exercise is simple; grab onto a pullup bar, hang in place, and then raise your legs out in front of you.

For a basic beginner’s version of the exercise, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and simply raise your knees up towards your chest for reps. As your abs become stronger, work on straightening out your legs and lifting them higher in front of you. When you begin getting really advanced, hold a dumbbell between your knees and perform weighted hanging knee raises.

Hanging from a bar naturally activates the abs, and you might be surprised by the burn you get from even just a few reps of hanging leg raises.

Kneeling cable crunch

A lot of people go about things the wrong way when they’re trying to build a six-pack. Doing hundreds of crunches a day, for example, is a pretty common approach which doesn't necessarily get results.

The thing is, having a six-pack is a combination of two factors: having big enough ab muscles, and having low enough body fat. If you see someone with a defined six-pack, you can be sure that the reason is that they've developed the size, not just the strength or endurance, of their core muscles.

Kneeling cable crunches are a perfect mass-builder exercise for the abs, as they allow you to easily increase the weight you’re using incrementally, so that you can always stay within your target rep range and promote hypertrophy.

All you need to perform this exercise is a standard cable machine; the type found in most PureGyms.

To do the exercise, fit the tricep rope attachment to one pulley of the cable machine and set your weight. Grab an end of the rope in either hand, and pull them down over the back of your neck. Next, get into a kneeling position, not too far away from, or too close to, the machine.

From here you want to do crunches towards the floor. Let your back round (really bad for most exercises, necessary for this one) and instead of trying to touch the floor with your head, try and “curl” it inwards towards your knees using your abs.

Planks

Planks are the undisputed king of isometric exercises, and are used by everyone from martial artists to singers, dancers, and Olympic weightlifters, in order to strengthen and balance the deep muscles of the core.

This exercise requires exactly no equipment other than your own bodyweight, and the only goal is to hold the pose for as long as possible.

To perform a plank, get into a pushup-style position with your forearms resting on the ground instead of your hands. Keep your abs tight and your back straight. Hold for as long as you can with good form. You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by putting your feet up on a chair or box. 

While planks may not give you bulging six-pack abs, they will strengthen the muscles of your core dramatically over time and improve your overall physical performance in sports, life, and training. A big of benefit of the plank is that it forces the deeper musculature and connective tissues of the core to grow stronger, and can help to address imbalances.

All of this is especially good news for anyone who spends a large chunk of their day sitting down. 

Squats

Weren’t expecting that one? Squats aren’t an ab-isolation exercise by any means. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t give your abs an immense workout all the same.

A heavy squat activates just about every muscle in your body to stabilise the weight, with the core muscles being at the heart of that. Front squats – which force you to maintain your posture even more carefully – are likely to do an even better job of working the core.

If you progress in your squats, and especially if you aren’t relying on a lifting belt for support, you’ll be amazed by how much your core muscles naturally strengthen as a result.

 

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