The elusive "six pack abs." We all want them, but most of us have different ideas how to get them. Some ideas are worthwhile, while others can be laughable, and even dangerous. One thing is certain, when it comes to sculpting our abs, results can be tough to come by...and even tougher when we don't know what to do.
Here's what you need to know:
Crunches 4 Ever?
There's a common misconception that doing crunches all day, every day is the fool proof way to get a six pack. While doing crunches with proper form can help activate our abs, doing crunches with bad form can cause injury to the spine and neck. If our rep-count is too high and we lose form along the way, we might end up injuring ourselves. In addition, getting a six pack involves us addressing our entire core, not just our abs.
Abs vs Core
Our abs are part of our core, but our core is not just limited to our abs. Our abs refer to one muscle group in the front of our stomach, our core includes many muscle groups that extend toward our back and hips, including our lumbar spine, hips and pelvis. Our core is also where our body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement originates. To practice engaging your core and supporting your body properly, try drawing in your belly button and tilting your pelvis upward when sitting. This way, when we do total body movements in the gym or in everyday life, we continue to strengthen our core, while staying away from potential hip and lower back injuries.
Can't Build Without Structure
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Structure gives us something to build on. The exact frequency and duration we do our exercises for can be modified depending on how much time we have and how quickly we want to see results. Our trainers suggest at least 3 days per week, dedicating a minimum of 3 minutes to some form of ab/core exercises (with correct form).
Want quicker results? After your second week, bump up your total time by 1-2 minutes, and keep the results coming! Not enough time? Do at least one exercise to keep up the consistency. Our brains can be trained just as easily as they can be un-trained.
Cardi-no or Cardi-yes?
Not only do we need to do full body movements in order to strengthen our midsection, but we also need to dedicate some time to cardio. Sprinting (properly) helps you engage your abdominal muscles as well as burn calories. Double down on your results by super-setting some ab/core work with your sprints...or just take our new Ab & Core class.
Now to address the elephant in the room: diet. (Please keep the eye rolling to a minimum.) Being able to actually see our abdominal muscles requires us to be lean. This just means that we need a (relatively) lower body fat percentage to see them. We can do ab exercises until we pass out, but if our abs are covered by a layer of fat, we will never be able to see them. We all have different diet preferences, but the common thread is balance. Completely giving up our favorite food/drink may just lead us to fall off the bandwagon. Setting sustainable boundaries and creating goals will help us achieve real results.
The secret ingredient...Consistency is the key. If we want six pack abs we have to re-think our exercise and our fuel, and look for practical ways we can balance the two with our happiness. Also finding a sustainable program you can keep will make the consistency as easy as brushing your teeth