Most Americans today have a better chance of winning a million dollars than developing rippling, 6-pack ABS. And while our society seems fixated on judging people by their midsections, a whopping 65% of the population is unfit. Ironic, isn’t it?
Most people only think about their ABS when they want to look good. But, actually your ABS serve many useful bodily functions like:
- Supporting your back
- Protecting internal organs
- Assisting with good posture and core balance
- Squeezing power
- Providing movement through spinal flexion
Are you one of the many Americans whose ABS have gone missing? If so, here’s how to scope them out. Find your ribs and your pubic region. The upper and lower rectus abdominis (technical name for ABS) are actually one thick sheath of vertical muscle that runs under the ribcage to the pubis and wraps around the waist like a girdle. A popular myth you hear a lot in the gym is that you should perform separate exercises for upper and lower ABS. In fact, these muscles are interconnected and work together. Think of a rubber band. You cannot pull one end without the other end working. Both are working at all times even though the exercise may start at a different level. ABS are like any other muscle group in that they require 24-48 hours of rest between workouts.
It takes strength training, aerobic activity, and a healthy food diet to beat the curse of the abdominal bulge. Another myth you hear around the gym is that you can spot-reduce your ABS by doing thousands of sit-ups. This is false – body fat loss is a process involving the whole body, not just the gut. Exercising your ABS will strengthen your abdominal wall. But without a proper food diet, abdominal exercises will do little to reduce your body fat stores. So you could grunt through 1,000 crunches, but if you “biggie-size” your meals, you’ll never see results.
AB Fit Tips
- Concentrate on quality not quantity
- Start at the beginning level and progress up
- Focus on overall fitness
- Remember to breathe
- Balance stomach and back exercises
- Do not pull on your neck or lift with your neck
- Relax hip and leg muscles
- Keep feet flat on floor
- Rest ABS every other day
Now, tackle your ABS with a variety of different exercises, not just crunches. Here are some of my favorite AB exercises:
Reverse crunches: Lie flat on your back, your hands behind your head. Bend knees 90 degrees. Place hands by side or under buttocks for support and make sure your lower back remains flat on the floor. Tightening your lower abdomen, lift your buttocks a few inches off your hands/floor. Now, contracting your abdominal muscles, lift your pelvis off the floor, bringing your knees towards your chest. Then, without relaxing the contraction in your abs, lower feet to the floor. Then relax by straightening your body out. You can repeat another set or two. Remember to keep breathing during the exercise, and not allow your back to arch.
TIC TOC Abs – Lie on your back and lift both legs straight up with your arms out to each side for balance. With feet together, move legs from side to side in tic-toc fashion.
Figure 8 – Lie on your back and lift both legs straight up. With feet together, make a figure eight in the air with your feet.
Russian Twists (or “Tebows”) – Assume a boat pose position and with arms holding a ball or hands together twist to each side while maintaining the boat pose.
Sit and tucks – Assume boat position and slowly straighten legs and arms then tuck back in.
Bicycle move– Sit back with hands by your side on the floor and lift your legs up. Slowly bicycle legs a few inches off the floor as if pedaling a bike.
Abs crisscross – Lie on back lift shoulders off the floor and touch hand to opposite knee.
Ab Scissors – Lie on your back legs bent 90 degrees and slowly open them like scissors in and out.
Fitness Ball – for the more advanced
Crunches on ball
Figure 8 (lying down, put ball between ankles and trace a figure 8 in the air)
Tick Tock (lying down with ball between ankles, move legs like a pendulum side to side)
Reverse crunches (lying down with ball behind knees, bring knees to chest)
Medicine Ball (or Playground ball)
Seated twist on the floor with legs bent and off the floor (rotate the ball from side to side)
Overhead sit-up (lifting ball either on your chest overhead while doing a sit-up)
Partner twist (while standing back-to-back with a partner, twist and hand ball to partner)