Are you still crunching away at that 6-pack of your dreams? Why? 6-packs are so last year. Just like with everything else in this world, this must change, grow, evolve. And this applies to your mid-section as much as anything else – especially when you consider that your abdominals are made up of eight individual muscles. Not six. So why leave two behind? Why not show them all? The answer’s obvious. The only question that remains is, how? Well we’ve teamed up with YouTube fitness sensation and personal trainer to the stars, Nate Bower to get the low-down on his famous 8 ab exercises to attain the highly coveted 8-pack.
MOUNTAIN CLIMBER PUSH-BACKS
Nate likes to start off his routine with these mountain climber push-backs, as they’re a great core strengthener. “Begin in a traditional pushup position. Flex your abs and keep your back neutral. Push your butt back to your heels, keeping your back strong and knees a couple of inches above the floor. Thrust forward, and as you reach the end of the thrust, bring one knee in (almost like a crunch) diagonally across the chest (as shown), then park it back again and do the same thing with your opposite knee. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps,” Nate instructs.
Next are the ever popular knee-to-toe crushes. But unlike most, Nate takes this one further, bringing the knee higher for maximum extension. “Lie on your back and point your legs and feet straight out (unlike a sit-up, in which the legs are bent). Lock your hands behind your head (like a sit-up). Do a rotational crunch—that’s where you bring the knee across the chest and make contact with the opposite elbow, as shown. Afterward, crunch again with a straight leg and bring it up high, reaching out to touch the toe with the opposite hand. This is one rep. Repeat with the opposite limbs, and complete 10 to 15 reps per side,” says Nate.
STIR THE POT
No, we’re not headed to the kitchen just yet. “Stir The Pot” is our next exercises that blasts our core into obliviation (and that’s not even a word). All you need to do for this one says Nate is “Plank on a stability ball at a 45-degree angle, as shown, and contract your abs while maintaining a neutral spine. Focus on keeping the core locked and spine straight through the whole motion. On the ball, make 10 medium clockwise circles (the size of a basketball), and then again counterclockwise. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps each way.”
“If boxing seems pointless to you, this should change your mind: All those punches and footwork are a result of steady, trained core work, which means that a 60-minute boxing workout is more like a 60-minute ab shred. (Plus, punching that bag is pretty damn cathartic.)”
It’s good, in the midst of an intense workout, to throw in a bit of a fun exercise. That’s why Nate throws in these Bear Crawls. Not easy by any means, but they change up the flow, and make you feel like a kid again as you move across the mat on all fours. “Start on your hands and knees, keeping your hands beneath the shoulders and knees beneath the hips. Raise your knees a few inches off the floor while propping yourself up on your toes. Start to crawl like a bear on the prowl, moving one hand and the opposite foot forward simultaneously at a slow but purposeful pace. Be sure to flex your core, and keep your hips low and back neutral with your hands on the floor. Do for 30 to 45 seconds,” Nate instructs.
BEAR CRAWL ISOMETRIC HOLD
There was another reason why Nate inserts the bear crawl in the routine where he does. Because they’re supposed to precede these isometric hold bear crawls (a simplified version of the bear crawl that’s executed more like a plank). “This simplified version of the bear crawl is like a plank: With hands and knees on the floor, lift the knees a few inches off the floor (as shown) and hold this position for 10 to 40 seconds, depending on your abilities. Keep the back neutral, flex your core, and don’t forget to breathe,” instructs Nate.
While the plank is now the most standard of exercises for core strength, it’s surprisingly easy to screw up. Well, except for now. Simply place yourself on your forearms and toes (as shown), while keeping your chest high and shoulders firm. “Contract the core as if you’re going to get punched in the stomach,” says Nate. The key is keeping your spine completely neutral and your breathing regular. The goal is to see how long you can hold the plank position before needing a rest.
WALL-LOADED BIRD DOG
Borrowing for our Yogi friends, this exercise is an adaptation of yoga pose that’s an absolutely core killer. Killer meant in the most peaceful way of course. What you want to do for this last exercise is “start in a push-up position, at the high point, with arms straight. Put one arm against the wall, with your bicep beside your ear, balancing on the other three points. Now contract your abs, stabilize your shoulders, extend the opposite leg straight out so it’s the same height as your butt (as shown) and hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds, before turning around and switching sides,” says Nate.