I’m a personal trainer – here are the 3 moves that will get you abs like Rita Ora's | The Sun
1st January 2023

MANY of us dream of having a toned stomach and abs. However, after a month of mince pies and mulled wine, this can seem like a far flung fantasy.

Truth is however, we all do have abs muscles, but unlike Rita Ora's, for many of us they’re hidden under a layer of fat. 

Will Duru is a London-based personal trainer. He explains the abs themselves are just one set of muscles that make up our set of core muscles. 

He said: “Our core muscles consist of the rectus abdominis –  typically known as the ‘six-pack’ muscles, the obliques, which run down the sides of our midsection; and the transversus abdominis, which supports our spine and helps with breathing.

“We need to ensure our core muscles stay strong so that we can move comfortably throughout life; these muscles support our posture, and keeping them strong can help reduce the chance of lower back pain and also lessen the risk of injuries.”

But, having a strong midsection can also be aesthetically pleasing. 

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Although lowering body fat is vital for visible abs, there are some exercises that Will says will work the abs and help them to ‘pop’. 

Give these three a go, and when you’ve mastered them, move on to the progressions…

1) Leg Raises

For these, lie back on the ground with your hands just underneath your lower back, legs straight. 

Keeping your torso still, slowly lift your legs off the ground, keeping them close together, until they are perpendicular to your body. 

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Then, lower back down, pause when your legs are hovering above the floor, and then repeat the move.

Aim for three sets of ten reps. Take a 60 second rest between sets.

Ready to progress? 

For something a little tougher, try Dragonflies. 

Here, find a strong pole or a solid table leg, lie in front of it and hold the pole behind you, with your hands just behind your head. 

Keeping your legs together, lift both legs off the ground and keep lifting them until your hips also come off the ground. 

Then, holding tightly to your pole or support, very slowly lower your hips and legs back down. You should lower down as slowly as you can.

Aim for three sets of ten reps with a 45 second break between sets.

2) Straight Leg Sit Ups 

You might already be familiar with sit ups, however Will recommends a slightly different variation of sit ups to work the ab muscles a little harder.

Start lying on the ground with your arms up straight over your face. 

Keeping your legs as flat on the ground as possible, use your stomach muscles to pull your body up and bring your hands to your shins. 

Then lower back down and repeat. With regular sit ups, knees are bent and feet are flat on the floor, however, here you’re aiming to keep your legs straight.

Aim for three sets of ten reps. Take a minute break between sets.

Will said: “Having your legs straight stops you from loading pressure on your lower back.” 

Plus, the exercise is a little easier for beginners.

To make this a little harder, turn your Straight Leg Sit Ups into Bicycle Crunches. 

Keeping your body straight, hands by your ears and feet just off the floor, bend your right knee and bring it up to your stomach to meet your left elbow. 

Return your right knee and left elbow to their start position, then repeat the move with your left knee and right elbow. Keep repeating.

With the Bicycle Crunches, aim for three sets of 20 reps. Take a 45 second rest between sets.

3) Plank

Although the Plank is a simple exercise, Will says it’s the best exercise to test and improve your core. 

“It’s also great for posture correction if done correctly.”

Lie face down on the floor. Push your torso off the ground using your hands, then rest your body on your forearms, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. 

Your body should be in a straight line and your back and core should be engaged with your toes propping up your lower body.

Hold for 30 seconds.

To make your Plank harder, turn it into an Alternating Hands Plank. Start in a high plank position, which means propping your body up on the palms of your hands instead of your forearms. 

Then take your left hand off the floor, extend your arm out in front of you, pause, then lower the arm back down. Repeat on the right side and keep alternating. 

Aim for three sets of 16 reps. Take a 45 second rest between sets.

Other ab factors to consider

Unfortunately, our genes do play a part in how easily we can develop abs.

“Genetics play a role in how your abs will look and the formation of them too,” says Will. 

He explains that some people are more prone to fast twitch muscle fibres which means they will find it easier to build muscle and have a lower body fat than an individual with slow twitch muscle fibres. 

Your diet also plays a big part.

Will said: “Focus on whole foods, ensuring you pack in plenty of lean protein such as chicken, turkey, eggs and fish. 

“Although there are exceptions, as a generic rule, try to cook from scratch, avoiding food from packets.”

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And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and abs take time to develop. 

Patience and consistency are both important when it comes to getting the abs you’ve been dreaming of!

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