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by Sean Palmer - Monday, 22 February 2016, 7:39 AM

Yes it’s true, we all have the muscles that make up a six-pack. If you’re on the hunt for your washboard abs, then they’re probably hidden under a layer of fat. We share some of our top exercises to bring those bad boys out of hiding in time for the first beach visit of the summer.

Eating well and increasing your cardio fitness are crucial steps to unlocking a leaner you. But just as important is starting a routine that will strengthen your core muscles.  Try adding some spice to your usual set of crunches, oblique twists and back extensions. These traditional movements are effective but they activate a single muscle group at a time.  Be brave and try some integrated core exercises for three-dimensional results!

A study at Penn State and found four integrated core exercises that will maximise muscle activation even more than traditional isolated exercises. Integrated exercises are super effective and functional. They mimic the way we use our core muscles throughout the day

1. Hover with hand reach

Begin in prone position with shoulders above your elbows, forearms flat on the floor, shoulders and hips at an even height from the floor, and feet wider than the hips. Move a single hand laterally from the start position across the floor until your elbow is extended and return to the start position. Brace your abs so that your trunk doesn’t move as you do this. Extend the arm for 2 seconds – return for 2 – alternate each side until you have completed 1 minute (15 each side).

2. Cross over mountain climber

Start in a plank position with your shoulders, elbows, and wrists aligned, and your feet hip width apart. Flex the knee to the opposite elbow, twisting the lower body, while keeping your shoulders square to the floor. Bring the leg across for 2 seconds – return for 2 – alternate each side until you have completed 1 minute (15 each side).

3. Side hover

Begin the exercise in the side position with your shoulders above the supporting elbow, supporting forearm flat on the floor, and feet on top of each other. Lift the bottom hip away from the floor keeping the hips and shoulders stacked. Hold the non-supporting hand above the shoulder for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

4. Horse stance pointer

With a resistance band looped around one foot and the opposite hand, start in on all fours with both hands and knees flat on the floor. Lift your leg and opposite arm to the height of your shoulders against the pull of the band. Lift up for 2 seconds and lower for 2. Repeat 15 on each side (1 minute).

So spice it up!  Add these integrated exercises to your traditional routine to unleash your six pack. You’ll look toned, and you’ll also reap the health benefits of a strong core which includes injury prevention and great posture. Yes!  Bring on the summer!