Your ab muscles maintain balance, provide an energy base and keep your waistline in check. The following exercises tone and strengthen your ab muscle groups. Most abdominal exercises incorporate other parts of the body which is a bonus so your arms, legs and back which will benefit as well.

The basic crunch is very similar to a sit up. Begin by lying with your back on the floor, knees raised and the soles of your feet touching the ground. Then put your hands behind your head or you can cross them over your chest. Lift your upper torso slightly so that your shoulders and upper back are off the ground but your spine is stationary. Lower down to the ground and repeat. You can switch up your crunch so that it targets different muscle groups. Crunch in a particular direction i.e. lifting the shoulders towards the right or the left.

The plank is a simple and powerful exercise. Lay on your stomach on the floor, put your elbows on the ground in front of you and use your fists to make a triangle. Push your stomach off the ground with your feet. The goal here is to try and make your body as flat as possible, so use your abs and glutes. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds and as you get better you can increase the time you hold the pose for. You can challenge yourself by lifting one leg off the ground.

Although squats are traditionally used for toning your thighs and glutes, abs are an essential part of the equation because they maintain balance. Start by standing up straight with your legs shoulder width apart, knees and toes facing forward. Bend your knees as if you were planning to sit down in an invisible chair. Do not bend so far that your knees go past your toes. Return to standing and tighten your stomach as you do so. Repeat 20-30 times. Challenge yourself by holding this position for 30 seconds.

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