SparkPeople Blogs  •  abs  •  yoga

7 Yoga Moves Guaranteed to Target That 6-Pack

By , Laurenn Cutshaw, Yoga Six Studio
The coveted six-pack is here to stay, but before you start doing a bunch of ineffective crunches, there's something you need to know. Aesthetics aside, having a strong core is essential for everything from balance and stability to preventing injury during other activities, according to Harvard Health Publications. Work on your core and you're also working toward better posture, comfort while you twist or lift items, a pain-free back and more.
There are four main abdominal muscle groups: The deepest muscle layer, the transversus abdominis, stabilizes your trunk. The internal and external oblique muscles work together to rotate the trunk. The final muscle in the group, the rectus abdominis, draws the ribs down toward the hips to create spinal flexion–and six-pack abs. If you're lean and do a ton of crunches you'll surely develop a six-pack, but crunches alone are not going to stabilize your core.
How can you stabilize your core and build killer abs? Three things: clean eating, cardio and smart strength training. With its challenging stabilization poses, yoga is a great place to start. Try these seven poses that target your middle and deliver in all the all the right ways. You'll be feeling these in a hurts-so-good kind of way tomorrow.
Boat: Boat pose strengthens the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine.

Getting into the Pose: Sit on the floor with your knees bent in front of you, arms extended. Maintain a long, straight spine as you rock back on your sitz bones, and float your toes off the floor.

Turn up the Heat: Extend your legs, then bring your biceps up by your ears
Lifted Lotus: Lifted lotus is a triple threat—it's not only an abs blaster, but it also builds strength throughout your entire upper body.

Getting into the Pose: Begin sitting cross-legged or in lotus (lotus should NOT hurt your hips or knees). Place your palms on the floor next to your hips. Pull your belly in and press down into the floor and hover. This is a difficult pose, so work into it by placing blocks under your hands for support.

Turn up the Heat: Extend your legs straight, making an "L" shape with your body.
Plank: Plank strengthens the upper body and abdominal muscles. Truly one of the best abs stabilizers out there, this move can be done on the palms (like the start of a pushup) or on the forearms.

Getting into the Pose: Begin on your hands and knees. Stack your shoulders directly over your hands, look between your thumbs and tuck your toes under. Press the floor away and your belly in as you extend your legs, one at a time.

Turn up the Heat: Lift one leg and float your toes off the ground, then draw your knee in towards your nose. Repeat on the opposite side.
Forearm Side Plank: Side plank dives into the oblique muscles and strengthens your entire core in the process.

Getting into the Pose: Find your way into a forearm plank. Turn your forearm 90 degrees and roll onto one side, stacking your feet on top of each other and hovering your hips off the ground.

Turn up the Heat: Float your top leg for an added challenge.
Eagle Sit-Ups: A variation on the crunch, the leg positioning in eagle sit-ups challenges your obliques while the arm wrap opens the shoulders.

Getting into the Pose: Lie on your back and cross your right leg over the left (and right ankle under left, if you can). Then wrap your right arm under your left, palms touch in front of your face. Lift your shoulders and hips off the ground. Release, tapping your toes to the ground, and repeat 10 times before switching sides.

Turn up the Heat: Draw your elbows to the outside of the knees.
Standing Head to Knee Variation: This standing pose deeply engages the lower abdominal muscles and hip flexors.

Getting into the Pose: Stand tall with your feet firmly planted on the ground, hand on your hips and eyes on a fixed point in front of you. Lift your right knee, bringing your thigh parallel to the floor. Slowly extend your right leg. Repeat on the other side.

Turn up the Heat: Move into the full expression of Standing Head to Knee by walking your hands down your leg toward your foot.
Camel: It may seem counterintuitive to put a backbend in an abs-buster series, but it takes tremendous strength and control to safely bend backward and return to a neutral spine. Spinal extension is also a great counter pose to persistent flexion—which makes camel the perfect closing pose.

Getting into the Pose: Begin kneeling on the ground with your toes tucked under, and place your hands in your (imaginary) back pockets. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor, tone your belly and lengthen through your waist. Lift up, then slowly bend back. Use a block between your legs if you need added stability.

Turn up the Heat: Release your hands to your heels, or draw your biceps by your ears, one arm at a time for single arm camel. 

Print out all the poses for your on-the-go workouts!

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


Well, let's just say, I had to 'modify' most of those - I can do a plank, and I can do a side-plank - but the others............ hmmm nope. I suppose trying to do them is good anyway. Report
LOSER05 9/21/2020
thanks Report
Hopefully will be able to do after while. Not there yet. Report
PATRICIA-CR 5/7/2020
They are good, some are tough! Report
CECELW 5/6/2020
i love yoga. I just don't do it very often. Report
CECTARR 5/6/2020
Always show a very young, very fit girl doing the exercises. HaHaHa Report
NANASUEH 5/6/2020
thanks Report
I would love to try some of these poses ❤ Report
ERIN_POSCH 3/19/2020
thanks for sharing Report
Thanks Report
Good article, thanks! Report
Great article! Report
Great article! Report
Thanks Report
Hate the work. Like the result. Report
Awesome exercises!!! Report
Perhaps someday again I'll be able to do some of these. Report
How long and how many on the core work out exercises? Report
Something new for me to try. Definitely not boring. Report
Great hope to be able to do them some day Report
I think with time I might be able to manage most of these, thanks. Report
I just added the ability to do these moves to my set of goals. Report
I love the moves thanks for sharing.. Report
great pictures Report
Not sure if I can do these, but I might try a few. I can't do lotus, but maybe I can manage crossed legs. I read somewhere that with high blood pressure you shouldn't do planks. Does anyone know about that? I would really like to strengthen my core. Report
Wish I could like yoga Report
Excellent article. Report
it works Report
This article targets something but it is not the people who are looking at improving their core. I, even working out the way I do, cannot see me getting into the position for 99% of these poses... Seriously???

Not only that, I agree, this article says something about how long, how many, etc. Report
I need to limber up more to accomplish some these. Report
Great. Thanks. Report
Maybe if I was 20. Think these are for younger or more advanced. Report
I'm glad they didn't have anything about Beginner in the title. Report
Thank you. I will be adding these in to my core strength days. Report
Excellent ! Report
Excellent! I do a lot of Yoga anyway and aside from that need to do something specific for my abs. SO a double whammy for me. Thanks so much for this. Report
I'm doing the Eagle Sit-Ups: Report
Never taken a "yoga" class in my life--however, since high school (all those years ago) I've been crossing my legs and doing the "lift" they mention in this article. It is very good for over-all conditioning, as well as limberness, strength, and some how it even helps with breathing. . . Report
Pinned Report
I love these moves! Report
I love these moves! Report
Holy Cow! I'm not sure which ones I can actually do, but I can at least try some of them!!! Great Article!!! Report
WOW! I wonder how many of these I could perform in the pool. Love 'em~ Report
thanks for this advice. in my case it was really beneficial and helped me to lose my weight and become slim.If you have more ideas with you then share with me in buy dissertation proposal and i will be thankful. Report
I will give most of these a try!! Some positions like leg crossing, I cannot do! But I will give them a try!! Thanks.. Report
Where she says lotus should not hurt your hips or knees, does that mean I'm doing it wrong or just that I'm not ready for that position? I can do cross-legged, but the only time I tried lotus my hip almost popped out. I did dislocate it about 5 years ago though. Also, I can only do side plank arm extended, not on my elbow, though I can do normal elbow planks. The others I'll try though. Report
going to work on this asap Report