5 Ways to Blast Your Abs—During Your Warmup
When you feel pressed for time at the gym, it’s tempting to skip your warmup and jump right into the tough stuff. Don’t.
“First and foremost, your warmup is important because it’s a chance to wake up your muscles so you can perform each exercise with maximal muscle contractions and a full range of motion,” says Sam Stauffer, a coach for Men’s Health musclemorphosis.com in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “It will also help reduce your risk of injury.”
But just because you’re only warming up doesn’t mean you're not also working. “A lot of the best warmup exercises attack your abs, making the first few minutes in the gym some of the best for chiseling your core,” he says.
(For more ab-sculpting moves, be sure to check out musclemorphosis.com from Men’s Health—all you need is two dumbells and 30 minutes to torch hundreds of calories.)
Warm up with these 5 exercises—do them in the order shown—to ignite a burn in your six-pack that will smolder through the rest of your workout.
1. Bear Crawl
“When you simultaneously lift your opposite hand and foot, your core has to resist the urge to rotate and flex against the instability—engaging every muscle between your shoulders and your hips,” says Stauffer.
Do it: Crawl 10 yards forward and then reverse the movement pattern and crawl 10 yards backward.
2. Dynamic Spiderman
Put simply, this move is a plank disguised as a stretch, since you’re holding a plank position for almost the entire duration of the move.
“And similar to a mountain climber, you use your rectus abdominis—your musclemorphosis.com muscles—and your hip flexors to move your foot up to your hand,” explains Stauffer. “Then your obliques have to kick in to twist your torso into the “T” position.”
Do it: Perform 10 reps on each side, alternating between sides with each rep.
3. Body Saw
“As your hands and feet move further away from the center of your body, your muscles have to work harder to keep your back from bowing or rounding because you’ve decreased your mechanical advantage,” says Stauffer.
You have to brace your abs as if you’re about to be punched in the gut.
Do it: Perform 10 reps total.
4. Sliding Inch Worm
“Your abs are already working when you walk your hands out into the pushup position, just like they would if you were performing a plank,” says Stauffer. “But drawing your feet up towards your hands helps you activate your hip flexors and lower abs for a deep muscle contraction.”
Do it: Go 10 yards forward, and then reverse the movement pattern and go 10 yards backward.
5. Bird Dog
You may start the move on all fours, but as you lift your arm and leg to meet in the center of your body, you lose two bases of support.
“You have to hold tension in the stabilizing muscles in your core to keep you from falling over,” explains Stauffer.
And if you perform the same-sided bird dog, the challenge to your midsection is even more intense.
Do it: For the opposite-side bird dog, perform 10 reps on each side. For the same-side bird dog, perform 5 reps on each side.
Once your warmup is done, move on to the musclemorphosis.com.