The 4 best abdominal exercises

Your stomach’s great. There’s nothing wrong with it. Don’t let him talk you into it. You still want to change it a little? Okay, but do it right and not with jerk diets and bad workouts. We’ll show you how to do it right!

“Unfortunately, the abdomen is the part of the body next to thighs and bottom where we women are most likely to develop fat deposits for genetic reasons – especially if we don’t do a lot of sports and like to eat”, explains Marleen Schumacher, trainer and founder of Greenbodycamp Strengthility Coaching. Whether your goal is a flat stomach or a pronounced six-pack, these tips will make your abdominal muscle training more effective than ever before.

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In this article:

  • The anatomy of the abdominal muscles
  • That’s why women should exercise their abs
  • The best abdominal exercises for at home
  • Why abdominal workout alone does not make a flat stomach
  • This is how the abdominal muscles become visible
  • 12 important rules for abdominal muscle training for women

The anatomy of the abdominal muscles

There are 3 areas of the abdominal muscles: the front, straight abdominal muscles, the lateral abdominal muscles, and the rear, deep-lying abdominal muscles.

1. the frontal abdominal muscle

From a purely visual point of view, it is clearly the focus of attention. It runs in 2 longitudinal strands from the breastbone to the pubic bone and is separated in the middle by the Linea Alba. Its tasks include ensuring an upright posture and stabilising the trunk and pelvis.

By the way, a six-pack only looks as if it consists of several small muscles due to the transverse intermediate tendons. That’s why there are no anatomically ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ abdominal muscles that you can train. Depending on your posture, however, the upper or lower part of the straight abdominal muscle is more likely to be used.

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2. the lateral abdominal muscles

They run diagonally from the outside of the ribs to the pelvis and support the front abdominal muscle: they bend the trunk, lift the pelvis and, together with the back muscles, stabilize the spine.

3. the posterior abdominal muscles

The lumbar muscles stabilize the ribs and bend the hips. In addition, the abdominal muscles are involved in breathing and help to press strongly out of the abdomen.

That’s why women should exercise their abs

Regular and effective training of the front, side and rear abdominal muscles strengthens the middle, forms a beautiful waist and lets the abdominal muscles shine through. In the long run, this not only looks good. Abdominal muscle training is also recommended for health reasons. Schumacher confirms: Strong abs…

  • strengthen the back and thus prevent back pain
  • stabilize and relieve the spine and thus improve posture
  • relieve the joints (for example when jogging)
  • generally make them more stable and more efficient in everyday life, so that, for example, the towing of water boxes is much easier

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The 4 best abdominal muscle exercises for at home

The basics are clear, then we can start. But before you jam your feet under the edge of the bed, get a lot of momentum or do countless crunches, we’ll quickly show you how to do it right. When Coach Marleen Schumacher trains her abdominal muscles, she combines 4 types of abdominal exercises that you should definitely include in your training plan in order to challenge all your abdominal muscles properly: 

1. Explosive exercises like quick sit-ups

© Südwest Publishing House / Christina Körte

You can order soft yoga mats for effective abdominal exercises at

a: Lie on your back and stretch out your arms and legs.

b: With arms stretched upwards, stand up explosively and bring your fingers to your toes. The legs remain on the ground. Hold abdominal tension and put it down again.

2. negative movements like with a jackknife

© Südwest Publishing House / Christina Körte

a: Lie on your back and stretch out your arms and legs.

b Tense the stomach and straighten the upper body as much as possible. Pull the arms to the feet stretched upwards. From this position slowly lower the upper body and legs back down to the ground.

3. slow motion exercises like slow leg lifting

© Südwest Publishing House / Christina Körte

a: Lie on your back and place your arms next to your body. Lift the legs closed and stretch them perpendicular to the ceiling.

b: Now lower your legs very slowly. Work completely without momentum and only with traction from the abdominal muscles. Keep your lower back firmly on the ground, do not fall into the hollow back. Slowly straighten up again.

4. static exercises like the forearm support

© Südwest Publishing House / Christina Körte

Rest your forearms on the floor and put your feet up. The elbows are under the shoulders, the back is straight and the belly is tensed. Keep this position stable for about 60 seconds. Do not let your hips stretch or sag too far up.

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But all those who think they could uncover the longed-for six-pack with a few targeted abdominal exercises are now unfortunately disappointed. Because the usual sit-ups are not enough for the six-pack.

Why abdominal workout alone does not make a flat stomach

You can do as many crunches and sit-ups as you want – you’ll get a trained stomach from that, but it’s not always visible. Because the abdominal exercises only train this specific muscle area. This means that the subcutaneous fat above the front abdominal muscles does not automatically melt. “The most common fallacy is that isolated abdominal muscle training can reduce local fat deposits.

This is nonsense, local fat burning does not exist”, says Schumacher “in order to lose weight on the abdomen and thus make the abdominal muscles visible, the body fat percentage of the entire body must be reduced”. This works best with a mixture of total body training, endurance sports and a healthy diet. “In addition to this, you should of course also train your abdominal muscles,” says the trainer.

The ideal body fat percentage for sexy abs is between 10 and 20 percent for women.  © Jacob Lund / Athleticflow HIIT meets Yoga – the best exercises for fat burning

This is how the abdominal muscles become visible

The lower your body fat percentage, the more clearly the fine contours of the abdominal muscles become visible. This is only possible for women when their body fat percentage is around 18 percent. Because women generally have a slightly higher body fat percentage than men, they have to work especially hard for visible abdominal muscles. In order to lower the body fat percentage, the basal metabolic rate of the body must be increased. This is the amount of energy you burn per day.

The most effective method for this is an intensive whole body workout in which you build up more muscle mass – the 4 basic exercises squats, cross lifting, rowing and bench press should not be neglected. The great thing about these exercises is that they activate large muscle groups and thus burn a lot of energy. In addition, squats, cross-lifting and many other exercises always train the torso.

“Trunk is trumps – and on the way to a defined body center much more effective than endless drudgery with crunches,” says Schumacher.

Nutrition also plays a decisive role: in order to reduce body fat, many people opt for a low-calorie diet, because low carb is considered a kilo killer. “That’s too short for me,” says the coach. “Only a low-calorie diet will not give you strong muscles!” In general, the fitness trainer advocates focusing less on looks and more on performance.

“Sure, you can use ‘Abs made in the kitchen’ to achieve a low body fat percentage and then be happy about a slim stomach, but what do you get from a flat stomach? Much better are really powerful muscles that support you in everyday life in the long term”. This is only possible with intensive training – and then you can put a few carbohydrates and above all a lot of good proteins on your plate.

Writing the perfect nutrition plan yourself is easy: That’s how it works’s! Wichtig: Immer den gesamten Rumpf anspannen. Dadurch verbessern Sie Ihre Übungsausführung deutlich. Important: Always tension the entire fuselage. This will significantly improve your exercise performance. © Rocksweeper /

The 9 most important rules for abdominal muscle training

1. avoid hollow back

“If the muscles are too weak, many people tend to fall into a hollow back during abdominal exercises,” explains Schumacher. You can counteract this by pushing the hip forward, retracting the navel and maintaining this tension throughout the exercise.

2. continue breathing

“Do not hold your breath during the exercise, otherwise your abdominal muscles will cramp quickly,” says the trainer. So always keep breathing and, especially with explosive exercises, exhale loudly and audibly.

3. maintain voltage

“One mistake that many people make, not only in abdominal muscle training, is that they do not tense the trunk properly. This improves the execution of almost every exercise”.

4. strengthen the back too

“A well-trained stomach also requires a strong opponent! If the abdomen is strong but the back is weak, bad posture can quickly develop.”

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5. training the whole body

Crunches and sit-ups are good to define the abdomen, but you should not neglect endurance training and strength training for the whole body.

6. exercise regularly

Those who consistently carry out their abdominal muscle training logically achieve the greatest success. However, your challenges should grow with the muscle. That means: Increase the load on your abdominal muscles during the training gently but continuously.

7. muscles need recovery

As a rule, a muscle needs between 48 and 72 hours to regenerate. After that it is ready for the next round.

8. bring variety into the abdominal muscle training

The body quickly gets used to stress. Therefore, the exercises for the abdominal muscles should always vary and address as many muscle fibres as possible.

9. listen to your own body

One last rule for efficient abdominal muscle training is: perceive discomfort and pain during training as warning signals! If you are unsure whether a certain training or exercise is not healthy, you should discuss this with an experienced trainer.

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Abdominal muscle training is hard work

If your abdominal muscles just don’t show up despite hard training and a disciplined diet, don’t drive yourself crazy: “A large part is also simply in the genes. Some have full hair, others have a great bottom and some have pronounced abdominal muscles,” says Schumacher. One thing is for sure: it is hard work to work out the abdominal muscles. Anyone who has worked on a stomach that has been trained in this way can celebrate with an abs selfie.

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