This amazing intel comes from one of our fave trainers and author of Women's Health's The 12-Week Head-to-Toe Transformation, Holly Perkins, via a recent Instagram post.
She wrote, “Thanks to deadlifts and squats I rarely do focused abs work. But when I do...” and then listed a couple of her fave abs moves, including planks and lateral flexions.
She went on to say that these moves are “pretty advanced” and to tread lightly. Then casually mentioned she hasn’t done a dedicated abs workout in a year, though you'd never know that just by looking at her.
You may be wondering—how is that even possible? Well, while you probably associate deadlifts and squats with booty sculpting, they’re actually awesome for toning your core, too. That’s because both squats and deadlifts are total-body exercises that engage your abdominal muscles, says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab and advisor to Promix Nutrition. One of your abdominal muscles' main functions is to prevent torsion, compression, and strain on your spine; so as you squat and deadlift, you engage your abs in order to support your spine, he says. In these moves, your abs are working isometrically—i.e., they're tensed but not moving—similar to when you hold a plank.
So if you hate abs days (we feel you), know that you can avoid them altogether if you’re doing the right total-body exercises.
Ready to try these great total-body moves on your own? Watch Holly demo how to do a variation on a single leg deadlift:
Oh and don’t worry if you do love a good abs workout—those certainly aren't off-limits! These moves are just great if you're looking to multi-task.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.