|Get Great Abs
The Health eZine - Exercise & Fitness
The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Abdomen
For both men and women training your abdominals to get "perfect abs" is a difficult challenge but has great rewards.
First of all, the "perfect six pack" are aesthetically pleasing to look at, but they are also a basic set of muscles used in many activities and exercises. Strong abs help protect your back and make it less likely to develop an injury. You should still wear a weight belt when doing heavy lifts.
Well exercised abs also help to tackle back pains (especially for elderly people). Studies prove that an excess of body fat around the abdominal region increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and a plethora of other life-threatening ailments.
But health benefits is the last thing on the mind of most people. For young men and women the biggest benefit of having great abs is for swimming, modeling and showing off to the opposite sex. Everyone wants to look hot in the buff.
For women who went through a recent pregnancy these exercises can also help to get rid of the "baby bump" they gained and tone up their stomach muscles.
Face it, most of us don't eat properly. You could do hundreds of ab exercises and still have a fat paunch. 90% of the time it means your diet is holding you back because your abs is the first place the body stores fat. So if you want great abs you are going to have to adhere to a sensible diet with low fat, moderate carbohydrates and high protein in order to get results.
Aim for natural foods and avoid processed foods and junk food which contain high amounts of fat and sugar. I have a protein milk shake that is ideal.
Note: Many people already have fairly strong abdominal muscles, but can't see them under a layer of fat. Your primary goal then is to simply exercise and lose weight so people can actually see your muscles.
Experts recommend doing cardio exercises the moment you wake up in the morning, before you eat, because your body is more apt to burn fat at that time. Jogging, cycling or swimming are highly recommended because they don't place much stress on joints. Cardio also helps to wake you up in the morning as the exercise releases stored fat and sugar into your blood stream and causes a "sugar rush".
A rare few people with high metabolisms don't need to do cardio to get great abs, but for majority of us cardio is a basic first step. A quick 10 to 20 minute jog every morning makes all the difference. Cardio plays a big role in helping shedding off the fat covering the abdominals.
Running places more stress on joints and it is NOT recommended. Stick to a nice comfortable jog or swim. Don't push yourself too hard.
How Many Should You Do?
There is a common myth that if you do a million ab exercises you will have great abs in no time. Completely false.
Don't overdo it and don't overtax your stomach muscles. It’s a simple fact that overtaxing your muscles doesn’t achieve results any faster than if you practice a balanced, quality exercise routine.
So what should you do? Pick a couple ab exercises that you like and do them every second day (see below), in combination with cardio and weightlifting.
Overweight and can't do a Sit Up
Achieving perfect abs may seem like an insurmountable task if you are chunky around the middle, but it can be done. Follow these four basic steps:
1. Focus on full body workout.
2. Don't overwork your abs.
3. Get a full night's sleep.
4. Stick to a balanced low calorie diet.
Unfortunately spot reducing (target-burning body fat in one area only) is impossible, no matter what anyone tells you. To burn fat on your stomach, you must burn fat from your whole body, which means you must do cardiovascular exercises. Any type of aerobic activity that gets your heart rate beating at a moderate intensity will suffice. If you do aerobic exercises five days a week for 30 minutes at a time, your body will start using stored fat for energy. Eventually, your body fat percentage will reduce, and you will have less stomach fat.
Now that the body fat is disappearing, you need to strengthen the abdominal muscles so the area will be firm and flat. Abdominal muscles need to be treated like every other muscle group. This means you can’t work them everyday, despite popular opinion. After you work them out, they need to rest a day or two to recover and get proper sleep (your body builds new muscle tissue while you sleep).
Focus on quality (not quantity).Pick two of your favorite ab exercises and do three or four sets with approximately 15-20 repetitions in each set.
Some favorite exercises are the abdominal crunch, the reverse crunch, touching your opposite elbow to opposite knee (to hit your obliques or the sides), and toe reaches (sticking your legs straight up in the air while you lie on your back and reaching up to touch your toes).
The biggest key to all of this is your diet. Chances are that a lack of exercise and a sloppy diet has contributed to your excess body fat in the first place. Because you are working hard to get rid of your fat and shape your stomach, you must also be vigilant about your diet, which can sabotage all your efforts if you’re not careful. Consume a low-fat/low-calorie diet with a good balance of proteins and carbohydrates. Avoid all processed foods-such as white breads, white pastas, and white rice-and replace them with 100% whole wheat products, fresh fruits and vegetables. When eating meat, select lean or low-fat cuts.
You must be disciplined. A lot of females say they want a flat stomach but to do it you need to combine hard work with a proper diet and exercise. You will get great abs, but keep these tips in mind, be patient, and go out there and make everyone envious of your sexy, ripped abs.
EXAMPLES OF ABDOMINAL EXERCISES
Of course everyone must know how to do that! If you have difficulty try sitting up at a 45 degree angle and then bending over to touch your toes and don't go all the way back. If you're looking for a challenge try spicing it up with weights, books, holding your hands out to the side, etc.
Bent Leg Vertical Pelvic Thrusts
Roman Chair Sit-up
Seated Leg Tucks
Reaching Crunch on Ball
Twist and Crunch
Hip Raise/Leg Raise
Side Crunch on Ball
Front Plank on Ball
Protein Milk Shake
Mix the following together in a bowl or pitcher, using a blender or a Braun Hand Mixer:
Blend well and enjoy. You will barely notice the taste of the raw eggs.
For fun, pour it in a sundae and add a cherry.