"What’s the Best Exercise for Toning the Abs?"
Skip the crunches and flexion-based abdominal work. Leave the “ab machine” at the gym for someone else to use. All you need to build a stronger midsection is a little bit of space, and your own body.
The plank is an excellent way to strengthen your anterior core muscles (what are commonly referred to as abs) as well as your deep stabilizers, and lower back muscles.
A stronger midsection equals less back pain, and better ability to move and lift heavy things without injury. And the “heavy things” don’t have to be dumbbells at the gym; they can be grandchildren, groceries, boxes, or household appliances! The plank is a great way to stay functionally fit!
Plank: Do this core crusher in a low position (on your forearms) or in a tall position (similar to the start of a push-up) and hold for up to 30 seconds. Once you can master this amount of time, advance the move by adding a medicine ball, physioball, or Valslides to the mix. This is much more effective than holding a plank for 2 + minutes (I argue that long planks have very little functional purpose at all).
Michelle Densmore, CPT, LCSW is the owner of Lucky13Fitness, a personal training and fitness coaching company located in Burlington. Michelle uses her education and expertise in both the physical and mental health fields to help her clients reach their goals through behavior change. Michelle believes that "Training the Brain" is the key to change in any aspect of life, especially in the gym. Michelle trains and supports her clients’ brains as well as their bodies via (en)Vision coaching, personal training, and virtual coaching. She is also a featured fitness writer for LoziLu, Zelle, Wicked Local newspapers, and has been featured on BostInno and The Story Exchange. When she’s not training clients, running Bootcamp or teaching a TRX class, Michelle can be found training herself for a road race or triathlon. She loves to run, lift heavy things, travel, and spend time with her family and animals. Michelle can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.