We're so focused on tightening and toning our abs, and chasing that six pack that we forget the importance of strong abdominals.
Ab myths simply will not go away no matter how many times we trainers explain otherwise. These facts bear repeating:
- Crunches will NOT automatically lead to six-pack abs.
- The key to six-pack abs is losing body fat, not doing crunches.
- Visible abs do not equal strength. Strong abs are strong abs whether there's fat over them or not.
- Abs are no different from any other muscle in your body.
- You must work every part of your torso for complete fitness - don't forget your back!
I know we all want toned abs, but let's ponder the actual function of your abs for a moment. Remembering what your abs actually do may help you appreciate them even without the six-pack.
- The muscles of your abs stabilize your torso to maintain good posture.
- Strong abs and back muscles are crucial for preventing lower back injury and pain.
- Everything you do; walk, bend, sit, stand, reach, and lift, involves your abs and back. If your torso isn't strong or is imbalanced, you can seriously hurt yourself.
- The Transverse Abdominis (TVA) is often ignored, but is extremely important for every day functioning. It is unique in that it contracts before motions of the arms and legs occur to give maximum stability to the spine.
Doing hundreds of crunches every day is not the most effective way to strengthen your abs. Your approach to ab workouts should be the same as any other muscle in your body. Specifically:
- Do exercises to target ALL of your ab/lower back muscles: TVA (the Plank), internal and external obliques (oblique twists), rectus abdominis (bicycle), and back extensions work your lower back muscles. Your exercises should include each of these muscle groups
- Do between 10-16 repetitions for each exercise. If that's too easy, pay attention to your form. Are you using momentum? Are you really using your abs or are you incorporating other muscles to help you (like your neck or hip flexors)?
- Work your abs 3-4 times a week with a day of rest in between.
- Do a complete programme of cardio, strength training and stretching along with your ab routine.
- Eating a healthy low-calorie diet with your programme is essential for losing body fat.
Now that you're educated on what your abs do and how you should exercise them mail me for a quick ab workout to be emailed to you.
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