Many people are after a flat, sexy midsection but what most people don’t know is that resistance training or ab exercises alone, will not get rid of any surrounding belly fat. The only way that the abdominal muscles will begin to pop through the skin is if cardio activity is performed to get rid of any existing belly fat.
The abdominal section, or core, is made up of four major parts:
- rectus abdominis
- transverse abdominis
- external oblique
- internal oblique
In order to achieve the “six pack” look and to firm abs, ab exercises need to be performed regularly and one needs to be sure they are working all the parts of the abdominal section.
This is a great ab exercise that works the entire core. To get into plank position, simply lie face down on the floor with elbows resting on the floor and aligned with the shoulders and extending the legs out and prop up onto the toes. The body should form a straight line from the shoulders to the hips and through the legs. Avoid raising the hips and backside into the air as this can cause lower back pain and possibly even injury. For beginners, hold the position for as long as possible while maintaining good form. Try to work up to holding the plank position for a full 60 seconds.
The bicycle crunch is a great ab exercise to strengthen the obliques, which are the muscles that run along the sides of the rectus abdominis. To perform a bicycle crunch, simply lie flat on the floor with fingers behind the ears and then crunch up and touch the elbow to the opposite knee, then go back to the starting position and crunch up using the opposite elbow and touch the opposite knee. This equals one rep. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
The basic floor crunch is a great exercise for the rectus abdominis, which is the largest part of the abdominal section. To get into the correct position, lie flat on the floor and bring the knees up but keep feet flat on the floor and then place the fingers behind the ears on both sides of the head. When the crunch is performed, be careful not to lift the head or neck; the abdominal muscles should be doing all of the work. The best way to maintain correct positioning is to try keeping the belly button as close to the spine as possible.
For a more advanced basic floor crunch or bicycle crunch, add a dumbbell or weight plate for added resistance.
When performing any type of exercise, always remember to keep breathing throughout the movement. Regularly performing these ab exercises will firm abs within a matter of weeks. For best results, aim to do three sets of 12 to 15 reps at least twice per week and remember not to work the same muscle group within 24 hours. Always give the muscles at least 24 hours rest before training them again.