Chisel your middle with free weights for a strong core and back. Your core muscles connect your upper and lower body. A strong core increases your balance and stability, while a weak middle can hinder range of motion in the arms and legs, as well as set you up for injuries and falls. According to Harvard Medical School, a strong core shores up nearly all activities. Always check with your physician before you start a new ab workout with free weights.
Rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis and oblique muscles comprise your core. The upper and lower rectus abdominis muscle runs through your axis from the pubic bone to the ribs. When developed, this muscle creates the classic six-pack look. The deepest core muscle, the transverse abdominis, lies beneath the rectus abdominis and helps you contract your stomach, or engage your core. Toning the obliques at the waist and your sides gets rid of love handles and thins your waist.
Barbell Push Crunch
The barbell push crunch works the rectus abdominis and utilizes the push force to develop core strength. Lie on a steep incline bench with footpads. Hook your feet under the footpads and grab a barbell, bring it to your chest, keeping a shoulder-width distance between your hands. Use an overhand grip. Straighten your arms slowly as you raise the barbell. Maintain the weight over your shoulders for the whole workout. Don’t lock your elbows. Lift your upper chest with control from the bench, keeping your low back on the bench. Lower yourself to the bench with control. Repeat as many reps as you can without compromising form.
Plank with Dumbbells
Plank pose with dumbbells gives your transversus abdominis a serious workout. Grab a set of dumbbells and get on your mat, onto your hands and knees. Lift your upper torso by straightening your arms with dumbbells directly below your shoulders. Curl your toes to push off your mat and straighten your legs in plank pose. Feet should be placed wider than your shoulders. The diagonal line from the neck to the heels should be straight. Don’t let your back arch or your belly sink. Hold for 60 seconds. Twist at your waist and raise your left arm overhead for side plank. Hold for three breaths and return to plank. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat side plank on the right side.
Work your obliques to trim your waist with twisting sit-ups. Use a weighted plate for this workout. Place your feet under a stationary object, such as a couch, bed or incline bench with footpads. Hook your feet underneath the stationary object for stability. Lie on your mat with knees bent. With both hands hold the plate behind your neck and raise your upper body up in a sit-up and twist to the left, touching your right elbow to the left knee. Lower down and repeat on the opposite side, alternating sides until you cannot complete a rep without compromising form.