Healthy Gym Tips

How to Stretch Abs the Right Way

To achieve fabulous strong and toned abs you can't do it by only focusing on that area. You need a more wholistic approach. But knowing how to stretch abs the right way is going to spur great results.
stretch abs

Proper stretching is often neglected as part of a complete workout plan. Here we are focusing in particular on how to stretch abs the right way. These 5 tips are to help you get results, improve your posture and protect yourself from injury.

The abdominals are one of our large muscle groups that fulfill important functions. They protect the spine, help stability and make possible essential movements.

There are many good core workouts that activate the different abdominal muscles. It is important to start and finish any of them with ab stretching exercises.  Stretching will stimulate optimal muscle recovery and help you avoid injuries and stiffness.

Know your muscles to stretch abs the right way


It’s easy to look down at our stomach area and see it as one mass. Most people are trying to get it look trim and wonder why some parts of it don’t seem to respond. The truth is, it’s not one big muscle. It has four main sections of muscle that make up the abdominal group.

Transversus abdominis

This is the deepest muscle layer that stabilises the trunk (nicknamed ‘the corset muscle’). It’s main function is to help with pelvic and spinal stability.

Rectus Abdominis

The home of the ‘six pack’ muscles. This is between the ribs and the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis. The main function is to move the body between the ribs and pubic bone and stabilise the spine.

External Oblique

On each side of the rectus abdominis, these allow your spine to twist. They run diagonally downward. An example of how they work is when you contract the left external oblique you turn the body to the right.

Internal Oblique

These internal oblique muscles are underneath the external ones. They run diagonally up your sides, located inside the hipbones. It works opposite of the external oblique. For example, if you twist your truck to the right the right internal oblique contracts at the same time the left external one does.

The keys to stretch abs correctly

Stretches are simple exercises, but the real benefit comes using correct technique. Put into practice these 5 tips to stretch abs and you will experience a more effective impact.

1. Before and after exercise

Stretches for core muscles should be incorporated into your warm-up and warm-down. They will help your muscles to elongate and release any contraction. It activates the elasticity of muscle fibers, preparing them for the coming workout.

Post-workout ab stretches will always be longer in time and more intense. Your warm-up should be shorter and lighter and with a few minutes of cardio exercise.

Stretch Abs

2. Don’t just focus on one area of abs

It is a common mistake to stretch abs by focusing only on a certain area and leaving others unworked. Remember that this is a large muscle group (as shown above). There are many stretches for abs and obliques but you should include these two:

stretch abs
Trunk Lift
  • lying on your stomach on a firm surface
  • hands on the surface just under the shoulders, hands forward
  • straighten your elbows to lift your body, keeping the hips and pelvis down at the surface
  • stretch, taking deep breaths for the count of 5
  • lower your arms to the starting position.
  • repeat a few times
stretch abs
Lateral Extensions
  • standing up tall
  • stretch your left arm above your head (or use double arms)
  • reach your left arm over your right side, stretching your left side
  • hold for a few breaths and come back upright
  • alternate arms to stretch the opposite side

3. Slow movements help stretch abs the right way

For the most effective results it is best not to rush through your time of stretching. Abdominal stretches help the muscles recover their state of rest and natural position. You must stretch slowly, without forcing. Allow time for the muscle fibers to stop being contracted. Too rough a stretch would be counterproductive.

If you notice pain when doing the abdominal stretch, you should stop immediately. The action and effect of a stretch is noticeable but, done right, it is never painful.

4. Maintain the posture

Any stretch has two phases: gradually lengthen the muscle and keep it stretched for a few seconds. As you stretch, remember to use slow movement and hold for at least 15 seconds. Holding the correct position of the stretch for an extended period of time helps your body get the best results. It stimulates blood flow and oxygenation into the whole abdominal area.

high intensity workouts

5. Breathe deep

Stretching not only aids the recovery of the muscles, but it will also help you to normalize your breathing and heart rate. As you make the effort to stretch abs correctly, take a deep breath with the movement itself. Maintain the stretch posture for a few seconds, but not while holding your breath. Forgetting to breath correctly means that your muscles retain their contraction. You want to make sure you do everything you can to achieve the benefits of the stretch.

Healthy Gym Tips

Healthy Gym Tips

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