“Bye-bye muffin top and hello ABS”! It’s an anthem we all wish we could chant on our way from the gym. But the reality is, bringing those six-packs to the surface is not that easy – better yet let’s disregard the term ‘six-pack’ and call them what they are – abdominal muscles.
Our abdominal muscles are primarily responsible for shaping the outer appearance of our stomach. They are made up of four distinct muscles: the transversalis muscle,rectus abdominus, and the internal and external obliques muscles. To build each muscle your exercise routine should involve intense sit-ups, crunches, muscle stabilization,and rotational exercises.
Before we proceed, bear in mind that you cannot convert fat to muscle. Thus, abdominal exercises will not help you to shed the excess fat that is hanging around your midsection.
Many of us believe that we have to overexert ourselves to see results when exercising – that is a big mistake! As such, we spend hours in the gym completing 2000 crunches daily, in hope that the next time you touch your stomach it would have become less squishy.
You’ll be happy to know that all this intensive training is not necessary. In fact, overexerting yourself might lead you to giving up on your goals in the long haul. The trick to building your abdominal muscles is to limit your training to only two sessions weekly. Read on for the top abdominal exercises.
Top Abdominal Exercises
This is the perfect move to start with if you want to move right into your routine. It works effectively to activate all the abdominal muscles, yet it is very straightforward and does not involve several positions or intense repetition. The teaser involves core strength, coordination, balance and abdominal strength.
The Teaser will build your abs and strengthen your overall core, giving you more energy to work towards your goal. Here is how you can get this done:
To begin lie on the floor and extend your arms while simultaneously lifting your head. At the same time, your legs should be elevated into the air at about an 80° angle. Your legs and your arms should be paralleled to each other. Breathe while holding the same position for two slow counts. Inhale, press down your ribs towards your hipbones, slightly lower your legs to give your body a V shape and exhale.
Return to the starting position by simply rolling your body backwards.
Bicycles work on all the abdominal muscles, especially the lower ones where fat loves to hide out.
To do this lie on your back with your fingertips interlocked behind your head and elevate your legs in the air. Lift one of your legs at a 45° angle while simultaneously extending the other.Slowly kick your leg as if you are pedalling a bicycle and touch the opposite knee with your elbow while twisting back and forth.
Do this for 20 minutes while breathing properly. Remember you don’t need any expensive home workout equipment to get fit!
Exciting Stability Ball Crunches
One of the best thing about ab workouts is that you can always modify them to your liking. Take stability ball crunches for example, you can add sets, use weights or event superset it. It is popular among both new and experienced trainees and you do not have to overdo it to see results – 60 reps, and you are sore for five days.
The stability ball is made from rubber, and is about knee high – a fun way to gain abs if you ask me. It is more effective than floor crunches in most cases because your legs end up doing most the work on the floor. However, on the ball your muscles do most of the work.
Here is a quick method you can follow:
Place the ball directly under your lower back.
Place your arms behind your head with your fingers interlocked and lean sideways.
Elevate your torso off the ball by contacting your abs, pulling your ribcage towards your hips.
Try to keep the ball as stable as possible, while lowering your back to strength the abs.
Repeat 2-4 seats for 10-12 reps.
A reverse crunch is the complete opposite of a sit-up. One of the main differences between the two is that it does not put as much pressure on the ribcage as sit-ups. Reverse crunches help you to strengthen your external obliques and this is the main reason why most people feel sore on their first attempt. It makes it easier for you to strengthen your abs and address posterior pelvic tilt.
First, lie on the floor and extend your arms and legs to your torso, keeping your palms on the floor. Keep your arm in this position for the remainder of the exercise.
Elevate your legs and bend your knees about 90°. Your feet should be parallel to the floor and your head diagonal to the ceiling.
Inhale and pull your legs up to your torso. Tip your feet towards the ceiling and role your pelvis backwards to elevate your hips off the floor.
Contract your abs as you lift your legs and return to the starting position then exhale.
Repeat for 10-15 reps.
Planking on a Ball
This does not involve any movement but it is just as effective as the routines discussed above. Planking on a ball will allow you to build muscular endurance and strengthen you lower back, making it easier for you to perform moves that are more challenging.
The first step is to support your body weight with your forearm and chest on the stability ball with your toes anchored to the floor.
Straighten your back and contract your muscles with your eyes looking forward.
Maintain the position for as long as possible; at least one minute.
Put The Icing on The Cake With A Nutritious Diet
Now that you know what exercises can help you to bring your abs to the surface it time to work on your diet. Eating right is the most important thing you can go to build your abdominal muscles. You can do a thousand crunches a day but if you consume unhealthy fatty foods you won’t see the results you are hoping for. Changing your diet can be hard and requires that you be fully committed to accomplishing your goal, so approach it moderately, taking one-step at a time.
“We are what we eat,’ and if this is true your diet may be the most effective tool you can use to build abs. Overindulging in foods that are rich in calories will result in excess fat covering your abs, making it even more difficult for you to bring them to the surface. Therefore, diet is as equally important as exercising.