Abs are one of those things people love to obsess about. Whether it’s talking about Halle Berry’s intense ab workouts (yes, I’m guilty) or J Lo’s ab workouts (guilty again), there’s a greater conversation about abs to be had.
First and foremost, abs are one of the most important group of muscles you have – seriously. I know a lot of people only care about how to get their abs to show and how to get a six-pack, but your abs are way more important than looking good for the ‘gram.
Having a strong core can prevent back pain, is essential for stabilizing your spine, and will help you perform explosive movements like sprinting and jumping better. You don’t have to memorize this, but the muscles that make up your core are the internal obliques (they help with twisting), external obliques (they, too, help with twisting), transverse abdominis (a deep layer of the core that acts like a girdle), rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles), and the erector spinae (muscles that help straighten the back).
These muscles protect your organs and are activated every time you laugh, sneeze, and have bowel movements. They also help you maintain an erect posture. Conversely, having a six-pack just means you have a six-pack.
While I think it’s 100-percent OK to want to see your abs and get a six-, 10-, or even 12-pack, I don’t think it should be your main focus. Why? Because a six-pack isn’t synonymous with having a strong core. A six-pack is the result of genetics, clean eating, and a body-fat percentage that’s low enough for your abs to show.
To get a strong core, you need to focus on strengthening all the muscles of your abs (scroll back up if you can’t remember them). There are a lot of moves I love that target the core, but I recommend focusing on exercises like the side plank, pallof presses, deadlifts, low-to-high woodchops, and the farmer’s carry.
Ahead, you’ll find an extensive list of exercises I also recommend adding to your workouts. Be sure to mix them up so that you are targeting all the muscles of your core equally. FYI: this is not a workout. Instead, pick three to five moves to make a quick core workout. You can also follow this four-week ab workout plan. Having a six-pack is nice, but having a strong core is better! Check out some of my favorite ab strengthening moves ahead.