Even before you start your workout, there are some key workout necessities that you must have. Hence, an effective workout routine starts long before stepping into your gym gear and start exercising. Just like every other activity, sloppy preparation normally translates into sloppy execution. Failing to prepare ahead can cause injury or uninspired workout sessions, which both inhibit muscle and strength gains. Here are some decent pre-training routines to make the most out of your abdominal workouts:

Eat for fuel

Your digestive inclinations will determine how long before a workout you can eat. Usually, eating something one hour before the workout provides you with sufficient energy. Some people complain of stomach upset whenever they eat close to their workout. Hence, the amount of time you should wait before starting the workout is different for every person.

Irrespective of timing, ensure that protein and carbohydrates are on your menu. Having peanut butter with toast is an excellent option since it contains protein, carbs and fat. Fruits such as apples, oranges and bananas are grouped as complex carbohydrates. You can use complex carbohydrates when you want sustained energy throughout your training session. A protein bar or shake is also effective.

Drink 20 ounces of water

The amount of water you require depends on various factors like height, age, gender, weight and how intensive your workout is. As a standard for all people carrying out fitness training, active people are advised to consume 20 ounces of water before exercise. Avoid drinking water immediately before your workout starts. This is not recommended as you will spend a lot of time going to the toilet, which will not only act as a distraction to your workout, but you can also end up losing more water than you require retaining.

Staying hydrated during exercise is extremely crucial for success. It also ensures that your training continues comfortably without having to battle negative things like dizziness and cramps. Additionally, research shows that sufficiently hydrated people perform at peak levels compared to dehydrated people.

Stretch out

Stretching out before your abdominal workout is vital for ensuring your core muscles are prepared to handle the exercises. To prevent serious injuries and enhance your performance during the workout, set aside 10 minutes to warm up. Stretching your muscles relaxes them and leaves you more capable of moving around compared to having very tight muscles that restrict movement. Be gentle when stretching as overstretching can also expose your muscles to risk of injuries.

Get in “The Zone”

Being physically prepared for an exercise is important, but having a positive mentality as you hit the gym allows you to maximize your workout. If you want to achieve high intensity levels during the workout, take a couple of minutes to inspire and motivate yourself before exercising. Fitness experts suggest choosing one song that will get you pumped up and get your brain thinking about working out. Although the choice of song is completely dependent on your personal taste, it is recommended to listen to a fast and upbeat song instead of a slow song.

Most importantly, ensure you spend time evaluating the objectives of your workout, like in this case you want to work your abdominal muscles. Set some personalized goals with regards to abdominal exercises and then contemplate how you will achieve them. Think about the routine and mentally go through the whole workout. That way, you will probably be motivated when you start exercising.

Now that you are well prepared, we can start looking at the 5 most effective abdominal workouts.

5 Most Effective Ab Workouts

Standing Lift

The standing lift is an effective abdominal workout that links different parts of the body including the legs, glutes, hips, back, abs and shoulders. This is especially beneficial for people who do not have sufficient time to work out. It can also be done at home using a weighted object like a dumbbell or medicine ball.

To do the standing lift, you start by standing apart with your feet firmly pressed into the ground and holding a weighted object like a dumbbell. Pull your abdominal muscles inwards tight, as if you are flexing the muscles and then initiate movement from the lower part of your body by bending the knees, and moving the dumbbell downwards across the outer side of your right leg. Stand up as you swing your arms diagonally to the left while pressing the hips forward. Perform 12 to 15 repetitions from right hip to left shoulder, and do the same on the opposite side.

Towel Plank and Knee In

Healthy and fit abs must be able to flex, rotate, extend and resist any external forces, and this particular exercise works all these areas. You will also benefit from burning more calories since it uses various muscles other than the abdominal ones.

Start in a press up position with a small towel positioned under your feet, with your legs held together. The next step is bringing either one of your knees towards your chest, while squeezing your abdominal muscles. Then, straighten your body back out to the press up position and repeat the same step with the next leg. Next, do the same action but with both knees simultaneously and then return back to full press up position. That is one repetition. Try to perform 12 to 15 repetitions in 3 sets, with appropriate rests in between.

Standing Side Crunch with Twist

This abdominal exercise is based on kickboxing and it targets the entire waistline region, including side obliques, lower back and abdominal wall. When done quickly, this exercise burns calories and enhances weight loss.

To perform it, stand in a wide position with arms up and knees bent. Keep the lower part of your body still and place your hands behind your ears. Now lift your right leg toward your elbow and lean to the right. Lower your right leg. Repeat the same action to the left side.

Next, rotate your torso to create a semicircle, by lowering your right elbow to your left knee. This is the “twist” portion of the crunch. Now repeat the same action on the left side.Return to the start position and you will have completed one repetition. This move requires a sound rhythm to assist you maintain a high tempo. Repeat the whole exercise for 10 times and alternate the starting point on the left and right sides.

Bicycle Exercise

This move is performed by lying face up on a mat first and then using your fingers to support your head. Bring in the knees to your chest and lift your shoulder off the floor, while ensuring you do not pull on your neck. Next, rotate towards your right, bringing your left elbow to the right knee while straightening the other leg. Repeat the exercise by switching sides and continue changing from side to side creating a motion that resembles pedaling. Complete 4 sets at 1 minute each. To challenge yourself, complete 4 sets each until failure with 1 minute rest between each set.

Plank

The plank requires that you kneel down on the floor with your arms directly placed below your shoulders. Start stretching your legs outward towards the back and then return to the plank position, thus engaging your abdominal muscles. Ensure your body is straight and long as you perform the plank and do not lift your bum too high. Make sure to squeeze your abdominal muscles while holding this exercise. To challenge yourself, switch raising your legs towards the ceiling, keeping them straight and firm, and hold for 5 seconds each.

Additional Tips to Remember

Effectively build your abs

It is vital to find a healthy balance of exercise and rest to improve chances of success. Since diet plays an important role, it is advisable to carry out extensive research about healthy eating habits so as to maintain your abs over the long term. A good guideline to use when making your daily diet is basically eating small meals frequently and ensuring you only eat natural foods such as vegetables and fruits.

Replace one carbohydrate-heavy meal with some form of low-density carb each day

Even though physical work at the gym is crucial, six packs are also achieved through proper nutrition. By replacing dense carbohydrates such as pasta or bread from one serving every day, you are effectively removing 300 calories or more from your regimen. Try to replace them with low density carbohydrates such as brown pasta or extra vegetables and you will shed fat a lot quicker. Simply following this tip over one month can help you lose nearly 1.5 kg.

Train your calves, forearms and abs together

There is a reason why fitness experts advise people to train this random mixture of muscles. Generally, most people go for strong weight training sessions like squatting and benching. However, the trouble with these exercises is that whenever you are including an abs exercise, they tire your body such that you want to stop working out altogether. As a solution, try one workout session per week of calves, forearms and abs to ensure to attack each of them with maximum intensity. It is not a must to dedicate an entire workout to only abs, so adding the small muscle groups into your workout will make sure you do not get too exhausted during your abs workout.

Staying hydrated when shedding fat or building muscle is important. You are more dehydrated at dawn when you arise from bed, so you must start the day by hydrating yourself. This enhances your metabolism, potentially obtaining one additional hour of peak metabolic function every day. Generally, it is prudent to keep up water intake all through the day. A hydrated person will noticeably have less body fat compared to a dehydrated person.