Abs of steel & sex appeal
Whether you’re just starting an exercise program, or you’ve been at it for years, there is one thing on everyone’s wish list: a toned stomach.
When it comes to training abs of steel, here’s what you need to know:
Burn fat. Most people already have strong, defined abs…they just happen to be covered by a layer of fat. Fat that all the crunches in the world won’t burn off. To reduce tummy fat, you need a combination of regular cardio (aerobic) exercise, strength training and a healthy diet to create a caloric deficit necessary to start dropping the kg’s.
Be realistic. For visible abdominal definition, your body fat percentage has to be pretty low somewhere around 8-12% for women and 8-10% for men. Which are extremely difficult to reach, let alone maintain. For some people this may be impossible or downright dangerous to your health. But it’s important to know that “healthy” ranges of body fat are 14%-17% for men and 21%-24% for women. Women are also genetically predisposed to store more fat around the belly and need minimum levels of body fat to be healthy. You’ll have to decide if washboard abs are worth going to extremes or not. For most people, simply flattening the stomach and losing a few extra pounds is a realistic, attainable goal.
Train the abs like you would any other muscle. There is no need to do 100’s of crunches. In fact, if you are doing your exercises correctly, 8-15 repetitions are all that you need to feel the muscles working and get results. The key is to focus on form, by deeply engaging your abs throughout each movement.
Vary your program. Every exerciser should add variety to their exercises to continue seeing results. Try to change up your exercises (both cardio and strength) every 8 weeks, This will help to prevent plateaus and allow you to progress from easier to more advanced exercises as you become stronger.
Don’t crash diet. Some people will swear that a key to flat abs is what they eat—or don’t eat. But you don’t have to drastically change your diet to lose your belly. Simple, healthy eating habits (not deprivation) will help drop excess weight from all over including your stomach.
Here are some of my favourite ab exercises. Be sure to read the instructions for each to ensure proper form and effectiveness.
Fitball Roll Out- Start by kneeling on floor. Bring ball close to your hips. Put hands on the middle of ball. Lift your toes just off the floor. Roll the ball forward, keeping your tummy tense & tight. When elbows touch draw your body back without bending through body. Body should make an up L shape throughout movement.
To make this harder, start with hands closer on the ball and the ball slightly further out from the hips. This enables the roll out to travel further.
For the advanced version, start from standing, bend to put your hands on the ball. Roll out slowly until you are in a plank position. Keep the tummy tight as your draw up back to standing.
Medicine Ball Twist– Start by sitting on the end of a bench with the upper legs supported. Holding a medicine ball squeeze the abs to keep the feet up and legs straight. Brace the tummy and lean slightly back so you can hold the ball at the front of your hip. Twist the torso and move with the ball hip to hip keeping the ball nice and close to the body.
This movement can also be performed on the floor for extra difficulty, continuing to keep the feet lifted.
For the harder version, use the decline bench on it’s lowest setting, and hold the torso at a 45deg angle while twisting the ball hip to hip.
Double Crunch- Start lying on a mat with your knees at 90 deg. Prop the hands behind the head to support the neck and simultaneously squeeze the shoulders off the floor as you squeeze your lower abs to lift the hips just off the floor.
To make harder, separate the knees slightly (to avoid kneeing yourself) and squeeze the abs to lift the legs toward your chest. Then slowly uncurl the body and lower the legs further towards the floor keeping a slight bend in the knees. Only lower down until the spine starts to lift from the floor otherwise you risk straining the lower back.
Use the Bosu to engage more core stabilisers. Sit in the middle and perform exactly the same as in the medium version but use slower and more controlled movements to keep your balance.
The Plank– Start lying facedown on a mat. Place your elbows under you in line with your shoulders, feet hip width apart. Now keep your tummy tight, bottom squeezed and prop up on your elbows. Work towards holding this for 1 minute. To make it more challenging, try lifting an arm or leg.
For the difficult version start on your side with feet, hips, and shoulders in alignment sideways. Then lift the hips up and top arm up with your eye line toward the roof.
So now the hard works all done 6 packs all round??