1. Train the abs like a muscle
“The biggest mistake people make with the abs is that they forget it’s just like any other muscle,” says strength and conditioning coach Nick Grantham. “They’ll go in and do 200 reps of an abs exercise every day and then wonder why they get a hernia.” To build your abs, do ten to 15 reps and increase the intensity by adding more sets. Leave one day in between abs sessions to allow the muscles to recover.
2. Do static holds for core stability
“Your muscles have slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibres but when you hold a weight in a static position you use both sets of fibres,” says Lee Archer, director of Pro Fitness. This means you can improve the overall strength of all the muscles used to stabilise the lower back and hips in one exercise, such as the plank, as long as you remember to hold the position for at least five seconds.
3. Add resistance to crunches to build muscle
“Use resistance you can handle, so start with a dumbbell or medicine ball across your chest and keep the weight close to your body,” says Grantham. “As you progress, you can extend your arms or raise them above your head to create a longer lever and make the exercise harder. If you get into trouble then you can bring the weight back towards you and all of a sudden it will seem lighter.”