Ab workouts make for some of the most popular exercise routines all over the world. Crunches, in particular, have become a favorite among those seeking the elusive six-pack. Abs-workout programs, however, are not just about toning your abs. Your ab muscles, after all, also play an important role in supporting your spine and back. And by engaging them in exercises, you can get stronger abs, reduce the risk of low-back pain and injury, and improve your posture. Just as the benefits of an ab workout go beyond making your midsection look good, there are a lot of effective ab exercises other than the classic crunch. Among the top-rated variations are the bicycle maneuver and captain chair?s leg raise. Also worth trying are the plank and various Pilates moves.
An ab routine works best if it consists of exercises targeting different ab muscles. You also need to come up with a schedule that lets your ab muscles rest for a day or two, and add intensity to each exercise as you progress.
To make the most out of an abs workout, you have to pay attention to your form, breathing and every move. And if you?re focused on reducing the fat around your abs, remember to complement your ab workout with cardio and weight-training exercises and to commit to a healthy, low-calorie diet.
But first, let?s go over some fundamentals and clarify some common misconceptions about ab workouts.
To set reasonable ab-workout goals and plan on how to reach them, it?s important to learn about and understand ab muscles.
Your ab muscles
There?s more to abs than your midsection. In fact, your abdominals consist of different but interconnected muscles.
The most popular in this set is no doubt the rectus abdominis, the ?six-pack? muscle on the front of your abdomen. The ones running along your sides are Hochzeiger the internal and external obliques, the muscles you engage when you rotate or turn your torso. And the muscle that wraps around your spine Get is the transverse abdominis, which helps keep your spine stable.
The truth about six-pack abs
To understand ab workouts and what they can do for your body, it?s important to first set the record straight on six-pack abs.
The term ?six-pack? is used to describe the rectus abdominis because it has three creases separating the muscle in that section?much like the corrugated surface of a washboard.
Those creases? They are not ?created? by doing crunches. They already exist.
Yes, we Much all have those creases. We all have six-pack abs.
However, the creases are not always visible. In most cases, they?re hidden under a layer of fat. And as long as the fat stays, your six-pack won?t get to make an appearance.
The myth about flat abs
So how can you uncover your six-pack?
No, not by doing crunches.The notion that abs workout are the key to a flat belly is a myth. Spot reduction?losing weight in a single or isolated part of your body?is a fallacy.
Working your abs won?t reduce the fat under those muscles. It may help with building muscle strength and endurance, but not with fat loss.
In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, participants were asked to perform seven different ab exercises for six weeks. The results revealed that the routine did not help reduce fat around their abs; neither did it have a significant impact on their body weight.
Fact is, to burn off belly fat, you need to lose overall body fat. And the healthiest way to go about this is by switching to a low-calorie diet and committing to a program that combines cardio exercises, strength training and stretching, plus your abs-workout routine.
Your genes determine where and in what order your body stores and loses fat. You might be predisposed to store fat around your lower belly, which makes the quest for a flat belly more of an uphill battle. Or you might lose fat in your hips or other areas of your body first, which means it might take longer before you see results in your midsection.
The importance of strong abs
Ab workouts alone may not be able to give you flat abs, but they can definitely give you strong abs. And that alone makes ab exercises worth your time.
By providing adequate protection to your back and support to your spine, strong abs:
- reduce the risk of lower back pain and injury
- make it easier to walk, sit, bend, stand, lift, reach and perform daily activities
- improve posture or maintain good posture
- enhance athletic performance
- promote long-term health
While you might not always achieve washboard abs, your ab workout will never be in vain. Ab exercises are guaranteed to make you feel better and stronger, especially with proper technique and form.
Common ab workouts
Whether your goal is to tone or strengthen your abs, your success depends in large part on your choice of abs workout.
Following are some of the most popular and top-rated ab exercises:
Crunches have been the go-to ab workout for beginners hoping to slim or flatten their midsection. They are most effective though at strengthening the front part of your torso.
In addition, a 2014 study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise showed that the traditional crunch is king when it comes to muscle activation. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found that this ab workout activated ab muscles better than other popular ab exercises, including ab workouts involving ab equipment. They also discovered that correct form contributes to high activation, hence the need to execute crunches properly and deliberately.
To start the traditional crunch, lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your hands clasped loosely behind your head. For each repetition, you?ll need to bring up your shoulders from the floor at an angle of about 30 degrees, hold that position for a second and then lower your back.
Complete two sets of eight to 12 reps initially, then once you?re ready for more, go for three sets of 10 reps.
If you want stronger and tighter abs, challenge your muscles with crunch variations such as the vertical crunch, reverse crunch, ball crunch, long arm crunch and crunch with heel push.
The bicycle maneuver?also referred to as bicycle kicks or bicycle crunches?is among the top three most effective ab workouts, according to a 2001 study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise and conducted by the San Diego State University?s Biomechanics Lab. If performed correctly, cheap nfl jerseys it can do wonders for the top muscles of your rectus abdominis, along with your external obliques.
So what?s the correct form? For your starting position, you?ll be lying flat on floor. To begin the routine, bring your knees to your chest (at a 45-degree angle) and lift your shoulder off the floor. Next, bring your right elbow towards your left knee and straighten your right leg. Then, to switch sides, bring your left elbow towards your right knee and straighten your left leg. Alternate sides using this crossover motion for one to three sets, with 12 to 16 repetitions in each set.
Captain?s chair leg raise
When you?re at the gym, use the captain?s chair to engage your rectus abdominis and obliques. Ranked as one of the top three ab workouts in a 2001 study by the American Council on Exercise, the 4 captain chair can help build your ab muscle and tighten your midsection.
Start the captain chair?s leg raise by stabilizing your body?do so by standing on the chair and gripping the handholds (so your elbows at a 90-degree angle). Make sure your back is pressed against the pad and your shoulders are relaxed.
Bend your knees and lift them to hip level without arching your back or swinging your legs up. Then lower them back down.
Perform 12 to 16 reps, for one to three sets. Ab straps or a pull-up bar would work too if you can?t get your hands on a captain?s chair rack.
For more dramatic results, try something more dynamic: the plank.
This exercise Get engages your entire core, from your abs and shoulders to your back and butt. It also works your stabilizer muscles, so it?s perfect for building both strength and endurance.
To get into plank position, lie face-down with your hands flat on the floor. Raise your toes (or knees) and rest on your elbows (or hands) as you push your body off the floor. While in this position, keep your body straight, your belly tight and your wrists aligned under your shoulder.
Balance and hold the position for 20 to 60 seconds (with the aim of eventually reaching two minutes). Then lower your body and repeat three to five times.
It also pays to make room in your ab-workout program not just for the plank but for Pilates as a whole. In a 2013 study published in the American College of Sports Medicine?s Health and Fitness Journal, Pilates emerged as one of the most effective forms of exercise for abdominal training and conditioning. The research, conducted at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama, also named the Pilates double-leg stretch and Pilate hundred as top exercises in terms of deep muscle activity.
Other notable Pilates ab exercises are the criss cross, the roll up and the zip up, which target the abs but engage all the muscles in your torso. The more challenging ab workouts also stabilize the pelvis and get your arms and legs moving.
But these types of abs workout are not just designed to strengthen your core. Pilates promotes proper posture and breathing too. And by learning to hold your body stable as you execute different moves, you?ll also develop your endurance and flexibility.
Planning your ab routine
For best results, you need to plan your ab-workout routine?from the schedule you?ll follow to the exercises you?ll do and the ways you?ll increase the intensity of your workout. Here are some pointers to keep in mind.
Change it up
Crunches may be a classic, but if you don?t do other ab exercises, you might find it difficult to develop a strong core. Also, abs tend to adapt more easily to stress than other muscle groups, making variation a critical element in ab workouts.
Try a new abs workout every four or six weeks. Or choose five to ten or even fifteen ab exercises for your repertoire and mix them up frequently.
Give your abs time to rest
About two consecutive exercise-free days is recommended, although one rest day should suffice. This gives your muscles enough room to repair and recover, so they can bounce back stronger. And it means you should limit the frequency of your ab workouts to two or three times per week.
Start with the basics
Don?t go straight for the most advanced or complicated move just because they might be more Przyk?adowe effective. Take it slow and steady, and make your way up once you?ve mastered a move or developed your core strength enough to take on more challenging ab workouts.
Kick off with a proper warm-up
A warm-up is a must with any exercise, and it?s especially important in ab workouts because your lower back is at higher risk of injury. Marching in place, rotating your midsection or any light or gentle warm-up will do.
If you need to make your abs-workout routine more challenging, weights are an easy and practical add-on. Say you feel like you?re breezing through your crunches, going over 20 before you feel the burn. Then it?s probably time for dumbbells to enter the picture.
Weight resistance pushes your abs to contract harder, making your ab workout more intense and in turn more effective.
Test your balance
Another way of adding intensity to your ab routine: balance work. By challenging your stability, you get to engage your core deeply. For a standing abs exercise, you can use a balance board or stand on one leg. You can also incorporate a stability ball, or make a ball crunch less stable by having your feet closer together.
Optimizing your ab workout
With ab workouts, quality trumps quantity. So don?t forget to:
Maintain proper form
An ab workout becomes less effective (and a health risk) if executed incorrectly. With crunches, for instance, the don?ts include pulling on your neck, which causes unnecessary strain on your neck. On the other hand, keeping your chin off of your chest is a must.
Mind your breathing
Your manner of breathing matters, as your core muscles require oxygen to perform at full Online capacity. The rule of wholesale nfl jerseys thumb: inhale when it?s easy, exhale when it?s hard, i.e., when you need to exert wholesale mlb jerseys more force. In the case of crunches, that would mean exhaling as you contract or bend to the top position and inhaling as you release and lower your back to the start position.
Do you watch TV, listen to music or think of other things while you exercise? If you?re often distracted or you usually find yourself zoning out, your abs workout instantly becomes less intense. You become more prone to injury. And you miss out on an opportunity to boost muscular recruitment. But if you pay attention to what you?re doing at the moment, you create a mind-body connection that helps generate more impressive results.
Take it slow
Don?t rush your way through ab exercises?that won?t get you wholesale jerseys faster results. Slow and controlled movements that let you feel the burn work best.
Keep your abs flexed
If you want to make the most out of a quick ab workout, squeeze your abs (as you would if you were about take a punch to the stomach) throughout the routine to maintain constant tension.
Completing the program
If you?re keen on developing your physique, remember that ab workouts can only take you so far. What you need is a complete program that also incorporates cardio exercises and strength or weight training.
Cardio is key to burning off those calories, so squeeze in 30 to 60-minute cardio sessions three to five days each week.
For stronger muscles, do weight training two or three times a week, just not on consecutive days.
Post-workout, make sure you stretch and cool down.
No matter how dedicated you are to your ab workout, you won?t get flat, toned abs if you?re not eating healthy.
For those on an abs-workout wholesale nfl jerseys program, an ideal diet consists of lots of lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits.
Besides burning calories, you can reduce body fat by boosting your metabolism. And one of the simplest ways to do this is to have small but frequent meals throughout the day.
You might also want to avoid fast-digesting carbohydrates. While they help with muscle recovery and growth when consumed right after you work out, fast carbs promote the storage of fat and hinder the process of burning it. The list includes, but is not limited to, white potatoes, white bread, baked goods, sports drinks, sodas and table sugar.
Instead get your carbs from sweet potatoes, rye, sourdough or whole-wheat breads, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Don?t forget to drink plenty of water too. A well-hydrated body is less prone to water retention and can thus help reduce belly bloat. In some cases, what feels like hunger pangs is just your body telling you that it needs water.
Ab workouts go beyond making your abs look good. With the right routine, form, technique and approach, they can strengthen your muscles, condition your body and set you on a path of health and wellness.