If there is one standard that most of the world uses to determine whether a person’s body is in good shape it is a well-defined set of abdominal muscles.
The “ab” muscles are a visual symbol of a person that takes care of their muscles and, by association, their body as a whole.
Although the latter is not necessarily true, a good set of abs is a desired physical attribute for most to aspire to.
There are plenty of simple ab exercises that you can do on your own, in your house, with no special equipment required.
Which muscle groups to work?
Building your abs is an exercise in personal discipline. Building each of the main ab muscles takes a concentrated effort.
From a lay person’s point of view there are three main abdominal muscle groups: the upper, the lower and the obliques.
The upper ab muscles are often referred to as a “beer belly”, the lower abs as a “pooch” and the oblique’s as “love handles”.
As the exercises that help strengthen these muscle groups are discussed, it should be pointed out that none of the exercises reduces fat levels.
That is left to a proper diet and other exercises. For a total fitness plan, you may want to speak with your doctor.
Start with a pain-free stretch
Personal discipline is one thing but stopping before you begin, because of a pulled muscle, is another. Begin your ab routine with a nice even stretching of your core body.
Relax and roll any muscle you have between your upper neck and your waist. This might best be described as keeping your feet planted shoulder width apart, bending your knees slightly and making a 360-degree circle with your upper body or waist up.
As you do this you will feel muscle groups pulling as you stretch them. DO THIS SLOWLY and you will quickly find the ab groups you will soon be working.
Proper Position and Isolation
In performing each of the following exercises, proper positioning is important for getting the maximum effect out of each movement.
The one position you will need in each exercise is bent knees. This angle, in reference to the floor, will generally be 90 degrees unless otherwise stated.
What this does is isolate the abs and prevent your legs from helping the abs in the exercise. The next important tip is to not overextend your range of motion.
The common perception for most of these exercises is to cover the full range of motion from the starting point of the exercise to the end.
You will only need to cover about 30 percent of that range for the best isolation of the abs. Strangely enough; you will find this lesser motion more difficult.
Crunches and sit-ups are not going to get your abdominals showing through unless you get rid of the fat covering them.
To remove that fat, you’re going to have to do some cardio work. Don’t worry, you are not asked to go run a marathon, or climb a rock wall or anything.
To get adequate exercise for losing weight, go for a walk. Stroll around the block. Take the stairs. Ask a friend to walk with you to the store instead of taking the car.
Shoot for thirty minutes and then go for more time once you get more comfortable with it. Or you could run if you really want to maximize your results.
The higher you can get your heart pumping, the more fat you’ll lose. But walking is perfectly acceptable, as long as you walk long enough and often enough.
Remember to stand tall while you walk, as this holds your abs in and helps to tone them as you walk around.
You’ll also be giving your back far more support, which can also help strengthen the muscles there. 30-45 minutes each day, five days a week should be perfect for dropping the weight quickly so that your results can show through.
To make things easier, listen to your favorite music while you walk, run, cardio or kick box. Music makes the time fly and it can really energize you, resulting in a better workout.
Crunches vs Sit-ups
Some people advocate crunches to get really ripped abs and some say that sit-ups are better. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what abdominal exercises you do.
As long as you put some intensity into them, and you feel the burn, they will give you the rock hard abs you’re wanting.
It is how you do the sit-up that counts. Most people do them incorrectly.
Perform a “crunch” by:
– Laying on the floor and bending your knees to a 90-degree angle with the floor. Heels on the floor with feet at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your head.
– Relax your arms and neck.
– Smoothly raise your upper body to a 30-degree angle while bringing your knees to your chest. Return to the starting position slowly and smoothly, repeat.
– Keep your arms and legs relaxed and move in a smooth motion for best results.
Crunches are exercises where you bring your body right forward, curling upwards to bend yourself into a tight ‘V’ shape. There are very many variations on crunches.
One of the most popular is the exercise ball crunch, which is where you lie back on an exercise ball, and then do a crunch slowly, without the ball moving.
This allows you to keep a good crunch speed, as well as supporting your back while you crunch.
Another good method is the full crunch, where you extend out your legs and then put your hands behind your head.
As you pull yourself up with your hands, push outwards with your legs. If it is done right, this will exercise both your upper and lower body.
You might also try the reverse crunch, sometimes known as a V-up, where you lie on the floor, put your legs in the air, and then instead of bending up towards your legs, you bend your legs back towards you. This has the same effect, but is less strenuous, as you are lifting less weight.
Working up to a Side Bridge
To be ready for the “side bridge” ab exercise you may need to work your biceps and your shoulders. For these exercises simply fill two or more 1-gallon jugs with water and begin curling them for 15 repetitions, this equals one set.
Repeat and add weight (more water or jugs.) For your shoulder use the same jugs and lift, with a slightly bent elbow, to the side.
To perform the bridge:
– Lay on your side with straight legs one on top of the other. Place your hand just under your body at the shoulder.
– Press down on your hand and raise your body up until the arm is almost locked (don’t let it lock.)
– Raise your opposite arm to perpendicular with your body and hold the position for a count of 10. Lower and repeat.
Medicine Ball Plank
This ab exercise resembles a “push-up” except that you are putting your hands on a medicine ball. You are also not lowering and raising yourself but holding one position for 15 counts.
After you begin to feel stronger performing this exercise, work toward a 30 count for one set. Do three sets to start and make sure that your knees are slightly bent and not locked.
Standing or Seated Twists
This exercise is fairly straight forward. Stand with feet at shoulder width apart. Place your hands on your hips and twist smoothly from side to side.
As you become more stretched and comfortable with the movement begin holding a weighted object like a medicine ball or water filled jugs with two hands at your center.
Once you feel comfortable with this movement try the same movement while sitting on the floor with your feet off the ground and knees slightly bent.
When this feels easier try bouncing the ball on each side while your feet remain on the ground.
One of the keys to that coveted six pack is building up the muscles of the midsection, and building up all other muscle groups.
The secret weapon for developing the musculature of the abdominal wall is a little-known exercise called the ab vacuum.
It targets you inner most abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis or TVA for short. Most people don’t even know they have one let alone how to activate it.
The TVA is like a corset, it is your own internal weight belt, holding your internal organs in place.
It is the foundation for the rest of the abdominal muscles, the internal and external obliques, and the rectus abdominis.
If you have done crunches and leg-lifts until you are blue in the face and are still unhappy with your mid-section, this information could take your quest for that fit chiseled mid-section to the next level.
There are other benefits to strengthening your TVA.
– It is the only exercise that has the ability to actually make your waistline smaller.
– By working and strengthening the TVA you are actually giving your spine more support, so the risk of the vertebrae or a disc slipping out of place is less.
Did you notice that the old leather weight belts are not used anymore? That’s because we learned to tighten up our own internal weight belt on exercises versus using an external weight belt that shut off the need to activate the TVA which leads to injuries.
– Better sex. When you strengthen your TVA with the ab vacuum exercise you will be using your diaphragm and you will also strengthen your lower pelvic floor muscles (ala a Kegel squeeze).
To perform a Kegel exercise, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine mid-stream. Stronger pelvic floor muscles help women achieve orgasms and help men achieve and maintain erections. It also makes the orgasms more pleasurable.
– You can work the other abdominal muscles more effectively.
You can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe. You can’t have strong walls on your building if your foundation is weak.
When you strengthen up the foundation of your mid-section you will be able to perform your other abdominal exercises with more focused intensity. You will be able to feel the difference in weeks.
– Athleticism– the TVA is the deepest abdominal muscle group there is.
It is truly the core the core. An athlete can have an excellent cardiovascular condition and have strong leg and back muscles, but if his core muscles aren’t in optimal condition.
This creates a weak link in the bodies muscle chain that affects all his movements. All movements and reactions start at the core. If core muscles don’t do their jobs to stabilize and move the torso, then arm and leg muscles will overcompensate, trying to do a job for which they are ill-equipped.
To get in tune with and activate your TVA simply place your hands around the sides of your body at your pelvis. Flatten your stomach by gently pulling in your gut, or pulling your belly away from your waistband.
You can feel the TVA at work as it reduces the diameter of your torso in that area. This simple exercise also demonstrates the involvement of the abs in respiration, particularly exhalation.
The combination of two little-known exercises takes the effectiveness of this core exercise to the next level.
Basically, it is a combination of an ab vacuum with a Kegel squeeze. Most women know what a Kegel squeeze is. In childbirth, it gets the lower pelvic floor muscles stronger which aid in the pushing for childbirth.
For men, when trying to perform a Kegel squeeze, think about stopping the flow of urine mid-stream while pulling your belly button back toward your spine as you exhale about ½ of your lung capacity.
Also, try to think about squeezing your sphincter muscles or like you have a quarter between your butt cheeks and you don’t want it to fall out.
Now, let’s perform the exercise:
1. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90, feet flat on the floor and the small of your back pushed flat into the floor.
2. Take in a very slow long breath and start to slowly exhale ¾ of your air while you are pulling your belly button down toward your spine. Try to put your index finger on your belly-button and feel it rise as you take the long breath in and then feel it start downward as you exhale ¾ of your lung capacity.
3. While at the same time pushing your lower back into the floor and drive your chin down toward your chest slightly.
4. Once you have ¾ of your air out hold your breath and suck in through your throat with your breath being held for 5-10 seconds.
5. As you are holding your breath and sucking in, think about pulling your innards up and under your rib-cage.
It is called the ab vacuum for a reason, it is a little hard to come out of it and resume your normal breathing.
But you will, and once you do relax and take a couple breaths and repeats. Start out doing 1 set of 6-9 repetitions, 2-3 times per week.
You can do the ab vacuum anywhere, and need no equipment. It’s a great way to wake up, or to end your day.
It will take lots of practice and each week you will be able to feel the muscles working more and more.
Once you get good at the technique you will be able to feel a ½ circle burning sensation in the pubic area.
Don’t be alarmed, just feel good about mastering one of the most unique and effective abdominal exercises out there.
Please don’t give up on this exercise, once you master it you will be able to reverse gravity and start to put back in place what years of inactivity and bad posture has started to let hang over your belt line.
Thus, these are some effective exercises you can do right at your own place to get a six pack abs.
At first, getting a little exercise into your daily routine will seem like really hard work. That goes especially for those who aren’t used to moving around very much. But soon your body will begin to crave it.
You’ll notice your blood pressure dropping, your appetite evening out, your attitude improving, your energy levels increasing and of course, enjoy all the weight you’re losing.
Of course, don’t forget your diet or the right nutrition plan and optimistic mindset on your quest for that chiseled abs.
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