While it would be nice if we could pick and choose where we lose and gain weight, we can’t — meaning that spot training on its own is a futile endeavor. Why? When your body needs energy, it doesn’t take it from your stomach just because you’d like a flatter belly, it takes it from all over your body. Further, if what you’re looking for is a six-pack, you can do all the crunches you want but you’re never going to get defined abs with fat covering those muscles — no matter how much you build them up.
An optimal training program will therefore consist of a mix of strength training and fat-burning cardio (HIIT has been proven to work best) and will be complemented by a balanced diet. Don’t fall into diet fads — cutting out gluten just because it’s popular or only eating fat and never touching sugar will not lead to any long-term changes. The tried-and-true method that most fitness pros adhere to is the 80/20 diet where 80 percent of the time they eat healthfully (fruits, vegetables, lean protein, etc.) and 20 percent of the time they give themselves wiggle room to indulge in their gastronomic vices.
All that said, when focusing on the strength portion of your workout plan, there are moves that work your abs more than others, helping you to tone that specific area of your body. We turned to Pure Yoga instructor and founder of Bassett’s Bootcamp, Loren Bassett, to find out exactly what those moves are. Here, she shares the best ab workouts you can do anywhere, even at home.
In plank, remember to keep your hands directly under your shoulders and contract your abs/keep your belly pulled in (resist the urge to pike up your butt). Your back should be flat, and your head and spine should be aligned. Hold this position for 45 seconds to one minute.
Leg Lift: Step 1
Lie face-up on the floor with your legs raised, so they're perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower your legs as close to the ground as you can. Depending on your strength, do three sets of 15 to 25. (Note: If you have lower back issues, place your hands under your low back.) Remember to keep your back pressed to the floor throughout this exercise.
Leg Lift: Step 2
Oblique Twist: Step 1
This is a great move to target your obliques. Lay face-up and twist your upper body up off the floor, stretching your arm straight out in front of you as you lift your leg. Depending on your strength, do three sets of 15 to 25 and then reverse the side of the movement.
Oblique Twist: Step 2
This is a variation on a traditional crunch. Lie face-up with your legs perpendicular. Slowly lift your shoulder blades off the floor and contract your abs. Lower them back down to the initial position. Your hands should lightly touch your ears — they should not be clenched behind your head as this will result in pulling on your neck. Depending on your strength level, do three sets of 15 to 25 of these.