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Fab abs: how to achieve your core goals

CORE: To get and maintain defined abs, consistency is key (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

AS IT’S crop top season, most people are wondering “what are the top exercises for tightening up your core?” Of course, we already know that abs are made in the kitchen, so a defined core does not come without the right nutrition. For your abs to appear, the diet or nutrition plan has to be correct.

Now, I know that you are not here to read another article about food, well, not yet anyway. Therefore, I'm confident that my readers have not only taken my advice about how to plan and prepare the right meals for their goals, but have in fact applied those steps in order to achieve their goals.

So, with your eating regime now in place, I feel it is time to set some core goals and if for whatever reason you are stuck with what to eat, then please go back and read my article on "Nutrition is the be-all and end-all" – It’s time to get your food in order!

Clarity is always important when setting goals. We also know that consistency is key, but what I’d also like you to see is those physical changes. As mortals, we find motivation in tangible things. If we can see the results, it becomes easier to stay committed to the goal that we have set for ourselves. Once we can see the changes, goals appear to be achievable targets.

But with so many core exercises out there, it can become overwhelming. Without a written plan or guide to follow, it’s easy to become disheartened. Because of this, I believe that the “tryers” and even the “doers” become stuck on core because of the large variety. I simply say: “keep it simple, yet effective.”

If you physically feel the burn and muscle fatigue from your chosen core exercises and you can feel the exercise targeting those stubborn areas, stick with the programme and ride the wave. Believe me, you will know when it’s time for a change.

With that said, to help you out even further, here are just some of my top core exercises:

Leg Raises – Targets the lower abdomen and hip flexors
- Lay on your back, placing your hands by your side or behind your lower back for support.
- Engage your core.
- Raise your legs up off the ground towards the ceiling, bringing them back down towards the floor.
- Repeat this movement until you can feel your muscles tightening.

Bicycle Crunch – Targets complete abdominals, especially the obliques and also focuses on balance and coordination
- Lay on your back and place your hands by your temple with your shoulders raised off the floor.
- Engage your core and raise both legs off the ground.
- Bend your legs to a 90 degree angle.
- Rotate your upper body, so your left elbow is towards the right knee while fully extending your left leg.
- Alternate the movement so the opposite arm and leg rotate towards each other.

Plank Jacks – Focus is on core strength and cardiovascular fitness
- Place your elbows, forearms and the palms of your hands flat on the floor.
- Keep your shoulders in-line with your elbows.
- Fully extend your legs behind your body into a plank position, keeping your feet together.
- Jump your legs outward and inward, keeping your pelvis stationery and maintain a flat back, not letting the hips rise up towards the ceiling.

Reverse Crunch – Targets the lower abdomen, building core strength and improving lower back, hip and spine mobility
- Lay flat on your back with your legs fully extended.
- Place your arms at your side, engaging your core.
- Raise your legs off the floor and bend your knees to a 90 degree angle.
- Slightly raise your hips off the floor rolling them towards your chest
- Move your knees towards your chest and extend them back out, rolling your hips back down to the floor.

You now have some of my favourite and most effective core exercises at your disposal, so there really is no excuse. Try them out at home or at your gym.

Adopt a regular core routine in line with your eating plan, burn that stubborn tummy fat and start working towards building a tight, lean core that you can show off this summer. Most importantly, do not give up at the first hurdle. Watch your food, train right and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

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