How does an athlete get rock hard abs? Is it by getting on the floor and doing sit ups? If you answered no to this question, then you are right. Time to pat yourself on the back. Well, getting a great midsection is not about the number of crunches and sit ups you can do but it is about stimulating your core the right way. One way to get a good core workout is by using medicine ball exercises for abs.
Why Your Abs Are Not Looking Like They Should
Let’s take a step back before we get into the specific exercises you can include in your training. Although training the abs is the right way to highlight the midsection, the truth is the only way to have them show is by having low body fat.
The common myth is that you can do a series of ab workouts and you will end up having the abs of an athlete or a fitness model. The bad news is you still have to work hard in order to have lower body fat percentage. The good news is you don’t have to spend an entire day locked up in the gym the way athletes are forced to.
If you want to bring down your fat percentage to a level that is low enough so your abs start showing make sure you do the following:
If you combine these 3 things you will leave your body no choice but to burn fat, keep your hard earned lean muscle and create the right conditions for your abs to start showing.
Get Off Your Back And Train Your Abs the Right Way
If you look at anyone with great looking abs you will find one thing consistent with them. They rarely, if ever, do traditional ab workouts. Exercises like crunches and sit ups are not part of their routine. Instead when they focus on their core they do exercises that work the midsection a lot differently.
Typical exercises like sit ups and crunches only do things like put your lower back area at risk. Rather than focusing on the abs these exercises put strain on your lower back and spine without really strengthening the core.
In order to strengthen your core muscles you need to work with exercises that develop not only the abs, but also the obliques and your lower back. Focusing only on forward flexing motions like sit ups and crunches fails to work on the rest of the core and ends up leaving you predisposed to a weaker lower back.
If you are going to lay on your back and work on your abs the exercises I recommend are
- Lying Leg Raises: excellent to develop your abs
- Bridges: these are excellent to strengthen the lower back
These 2 exercises are a great way to work on your core region and can be included in your workout program.
There are other creative ways to work on your abs and even more athletic to trigger the core region.
One important thing to point out is you do not need fancy equipment to develop your abs but one tool you can use in your ab workouts are medicine balls.
Medicine Ball Ab Exercises
A medicine ball is one simple piece of equipment you will often find in an athletes arsenal. Although medicine balls come in different weight it is best to start out with something light and use a heavier ball over time.
Heavy weight is not necessary in order to develop the abs. The best thing is to work with a lighter ball in order to avoid any lower back problems. The goal of using medicine ball workouts is to really activate core muscles in a way that is different from your typical core exercises.
Here are the best exercises using a medicine ball
1. Medicine Ball Slams: hold a medicine ball over your head with both hands. Using the strength in your arms throw the ball directly into the ground. Tighten your abs as you throw the ball and you use a forward motion. You will slightly bend at the waist as you throw the ball. Have the ball bounce off the floor and catch it. Repeat.
2. Medicine Ball Pop Ups: This is an advanced exercise and will increase your explosiveness, athleticism and mobility. You simply get on your back as if you are going to do a crunch with your knees slightly bent. Throw the ball upwards and slightly ahead of you. Immediately get up off the floor as fast as possible and catch the ball as the ball drops.
(This is an example of Medicine Ball Pop Ups by Fitness Model Brad Gouthro)
3. Medicine Ball Russian Twist: sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent. Place your feet so that they are touching the floor. Hold the ball with two hands at about chest level and twist to the right, and then tap the ball on the floor. Without stopping your movements twist to the left and tap the ball on the floor. This counts as one rep. You can make it a bit difficult by lifting your feet off the floor. This exercise is excellent for targeting the obliques.
(Courtesy of Jason Ferruggia- Muscle Gaining Secrets)
4. Medicine Ball Side Toss: Stand next to a wall and hold the ball at the same level as your core/ abs. Hold the ball with an underhand grip and throw the ball against the wall allowing it to bounce back towards you. You can choose the distance from the wall depending on how strong you feel you are. The stronger or more advanced you are the further away you can stand from the wall. Perform these tosses on each side.
5. Medicine Ball Planks: There are many ways to use these balls for plank variations. You can set up in a pushups position and hold the ball with your hands and place your feet on the floor. Hold this position for one minute. You can also place yourself in a pushups position and place your feet on the ball. This is more advanced and it will make it tougher for you to balance yourself. Another plank variation and one which is also advanced requires 2 medicine balls. Put yourself in a pushups position and place one medicine ball under your feet and one in your hands. Try to hold this position without losing your balance for up to one minute. This is a difficult version and requires strength and concentration. Hold the plank position for up to a minute on any of these variations.
There is no need to do all medicince ball workouts for your abs using every single one of the exercises mentioned above. Ideally, you can choose 2 or 3 of these exercises and use them in your routine.
Sample Medicine Ball Routine
- Medicine Ball Slams- 3 sets of 10 repetitions
- Medicine Ball Russian Twists- 3 sets of 10 repetitions
- Medicine Ball Planks: 3 sets, hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute each set
Rest 30 seconds each set
Second Sample Routine
- Medicine Ball Pop Ups- 3 sets of 10 repetitions
- Medicine Ball Side Toss- 3 sets of 10 repetition to each side
- Medicine Ball Planks: use any plank variation mentioned above do 3 sets of 30 second holds
Again, rest 30 seconds between each set
You can also include one of these exercises along with any other core exercises you use in your routine.
These are some ways of switching up your abs workouts using a simple piece of equipment. Although these exercises alone won’t have you sporting a six pack (remember to lower your body fat percentage if you want this to happen) you will definitely develop a stronger core with these medicine ball exercises for abs.