5 Exercises for Flat Abs | Erin Stern

July 17, 2018

Abs are mostly made in the kitchen, but we can make them more defined in the gym. You may be able to make the waist smaller, too. Before we get into the exercises, let’s first look at the four muscles that make up the abs.

Transverse Abdominis (TVA)

The deepest muscle is the transverse abdominis or TVA. Think about this muscle acting as an internal weight belt or girdle. Many people don’t know about this muscle, and therefore, don’t train it.

Internal/External Obliques

The next two muscles are internal and external obliques. These help with rotation or twisting, and run from the top of the ribs to the top of the pelvis on the sides of the body.

Rectus Abdominis

Lastly, the rectus abdominis sits between the ribs and runs down the center of the body. It’s commonly referred to as the six-pack. It’s important to train each muscle to create a well-rounded appearance and to strengthen the muscles equally.

Now let’s go through each of my top 5 ab exercises and watch the demo video below:

1.       Vacuum. 

This is the best exercise for strengthening the TVA. This exercise can also draw in the waist, making it smaller. It can take a few tries to master, but the results are worth it. To do it: breathe out and suck in your stomach as much as you can. Think about pulling your belly button to your backbone. It’s easiest if done on your hands and knees. Once you have the hang of it, try it seated. Then, try it standing.

2.       Plank.  

This exercise hits all four muscles. Get into a push up position, but brace your upper body with your elbows. Keep your entire body flat, including the hips. You can also do a side plank, where you’re bracing on one elbow and your body is perpendicular to the ground. 

3.       Ab wheel. 

This hits the rectus abdominis and the obliques, along with lats, shoulders, and chest. Grab an ab wheel and place it in front of you. Kneel on an exercise mat. Keeping your arms straight, roll the wheel out in front of you. Make sure you’re extending your body by using your abs. Extend the roller as far as you can comfortably go and pull the wheel back towards you. 

4.       Walking lunges with an oblique twist. 

This exercise is great for the obliques, and it also gets the heart rate up and improves coordination. You can do them with weight or without. Try with just your bodyweight first. As you take your first lunge step forward, extend your arms straight and then bring them over the forward leg and down to the hip. So, if you’re lunging with your right leg forward, your hands will end next to your right hip. As you stand up and lunge with the other leg, extend your arms forward and then down to the other hip. 

5.       Reverse crunches. 

This is my favorite exercise for the lower portion of the rectus abdominis. Lay with your back flat and legs straight up. Lift your hips off the ground, using your abs. Try to keep your legs perpendicular to the ground.

Let’s put these together in a circuit to show you how to implement this into your workouts.

Complete three rounds of:
Vacuum – 30 seconds
Plank – 30 seconds
Ab wheel – 10 reps
Walking lunges with an oblique twist – 10 steps each side
Reverse crunches – 20 each

BetaTOR helps me get more reps in each workout. I’m able to train with more intensity for longer! Thanks for reading. Until next time, train hard, y’all!

Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia


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