5 Exercises for Killer Abs

Sculpt strong core muscles with these five killer moves

Yes, in the past we’ve talked about how abs are pretty much overrated, but even still, that doesn’t overrule the fact that deep down most of us secretly dream of sculpting a ripped six-pack.

And especially when summer is on the way.

Fitness expert and New York City-based physical therapist Karena Wu, owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy, is currently working with pro volleyball players (a most popular source of summertime “ab-spiration”) for their upcoming spring competitions.

She suggests sculpting strong core muscles by incorporating following moves in your weekly workout routine.

But don’t forget, these exercises won’t do the job alone.

Ab exercises will help to strengthen your abdominal muscles, but they will not result in belly fat reduction. You’ll also need to incorporate healthy eating and regular cardiovascular exercise. (In fact, it takes a lot more work than many people realize.)

However, if you’re up for the challenge, Wu says these five exercises will certainly help you get there.

1. The Roll Up

- Works all four abdominal muscles at once.

- In volleyball: assists with segmental mobility and stability of the core.

How to:
1. Lie on your back with arms overhead.

2. Bring the arms forward until they are above your head (fingertips pointing to the ceiling).

3. Lift the head and together with the arms roll your spine up one vertebra at a time, keeping your navel pulled into your spine.

4. Roll up completely until you are bending forward reaching toward your toes.

5. To return, stack your vertebra one at a time, until you are sitting erect and then slowly roll down starting from the sacrum (pelvic tilt backwards to touch sacrum down first) one vertebra at a time until you are lying flat on your back again with arms overhead.

6. Repeat up 10 times.

2. Plank with Pelvic Rotation

- Works all 4 abdominal muscles with emphasis on obliques.

- In volleyball: assists with rotatory movements during digging, reaching, one-arm blocks, spiking.

How to:
1. Lie face down on the floor with elbows propped under the shoulders (sphinx position).

2. Pull navel into spine and lift the rest of the body up so you are resting on your elbows and toes.

3. Push back through the heels to activate the legs and keep the navel into the spine throughout.

4. Lower right hip down to ground approximately 1 to 2 inches by rotating in the lumbar spine, then repeat on the opposite side.

5. Repeat 20 times each side.

3. Bicycle

- Works all four abdominal muscles.

- In volleyball: assists with digging, reaching for ball on an angle, spiking.

How to:
1. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor.

2. Clasp hands behind your head, elbows out to the side.

3. Bring both knees up into table top position (hips and knees bent to 90 degrees).

4. Bring head and shoulders up and rotate right elbow to left knee while right leg extends out straight. Repeat on opposite side.

5. Repeat 10 times slow each side, 10 times fast each side.

4. Pike

- Works all four abdominals.

- In volleyball: assists with spiking the ball.

How to:
1. Lie on your back with arms overhead. 

2. Pull navel into the spine and at the same time, lift arms and legs straight up into the air to touch.

3. Try to keep your back flat and not rounded.

4. Repeat up to 10 times.

5. Double Leg Raise, Scissors

- Works lower abdominals.

- In volleyball: assists with running in the sand and powering the legs.

How to:
1. Lie on your back with arms at your side.

2. Pull navel into the spine.

3. Lift both legs up at once until they are perpendicular to the floor.

4. Slowly lower back down. Do not let back arch up off the floor.

5. Add a scissor kick vertically and horizontally up to a few inches (legs stay straight and move up and down or side to side and crisscross each other).

6. Repeat up to 20 times.