Working out can make you feel energized and clear-minded, but it can often be difficult to find the motivation to get there and actually go on a regular basis. Whenever I don’t go to the gym I always regret it, so I thought I would share with you some tips that keep me motivated and as an added bonus my 5 holy-grail ab exercises.
Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. I’ll be honest, when I first joined the gym, my biggest goal was to get a six pack. I thought I could get this done in 3-4 months time. However, I soon realized before that time was even up that I had set an impractical goal for myself. It is good to set goals for yourself, as long as they are achievable. If you set overly-ambitious goals for yourself, then you are just beckoning for disappointment, and you’ll run the risk of being discouraged to continue hitting the gym. If you set an achievable goal for yourself, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, and this will have a positive effect on your motivation. Once you reach your initial goal, set a new one. You always want to be working towards achieving something.
Track your progress. There is nothing more demotivating than going to the gym for numerous months only to feel like you haven’t gotten anywhere. Most likely you have made progress, you’re just unaware how gradual it has been because you haven’t been keeping track. I love using FitNotes to track how much weight I’m able to lift for each exercise and my record times for cardio. It is very motivating to see how my strength has improved over the past months, and it constantly motivates me to beat my current record 🙂
Eliminate any barriers between you and the gym. Sometimes it can be as simple as laying out the clothes you are going to wear to the gym the night before and putting them on first thing in the morning. You should also decide the night before what your workout plan will be the following day. I find that doing these two things eliminates procrastination and makes me more committed to hitting the gym.
My Top 5 Favorite Ab Exercises
1. Side V-Ups
Side V-ups majorly target your upper abs and obliques. Out of all the exercises I am about to show you, this one has given me the most significant results. I’ll typically go for 1 minute on each side (about 25 reps) and repeat the exercise for a total of 3 sets.
2. Bosu Ball Crunches
Using a Bosu Ball for your crunches will give you a greater range of motion, therefore engaging more of your abdominal muscles. This exercise really sets my abs on fire after a solid minute and with each set, I can feel my abs getting even stronger and tighter than they were before. I like to do 3 sets for a duration of 1 minute.
3. Spiderman Planks
These are excellent at engaging your entire abs. Make sure when you do these that your back stays level, and you don’t bring your knees up too fast. This rule goes for any ab exercise; slow, controlled movements will engage your muscles more than rapid motions. For a variation, I like to balance my hands on a Bosu Ball while doing Spiderman Planks. I usually do 3 sets for a duration of 1 minute each, I would go longer, but honestly, my shoulders get tired doing these faster than my abs.
4. Roman Chair Leg Lifts
Roman Chair Leg Lifts are, in my opinion, the best way to work your lower abdominal muscles. Straighten your legs and in a controlled movement lift them up as high as you can without swinging your legs up — this defeats the purpose of the exercise! For an easier variation, you can bend our knees and do knee raises. It’s the same idea, but it doesn’t require quite as much abdominal strength as if your legs were straight out in front of you. Depending on how exhausted I am by the time I get to these, I will do anywhere from 15-30 reps of these for 3 sets.
5. Flutter Kicks
Because the lower abs tend to be the most difficult to do, and for many people, the most stubborn, I like to work them in as many different ways as possible. To ensure that your abs are truly engaged doing when doing flutter kicks, make sure your back is flat against the ground, not arched. Do these for a solid minute with absolutely no pauses… you can thank me later 😉