Want to get the most out of your ab workout? Quit wasting time and energy. Shape up your routine with these basic tips.
1. Exercise smarter. If you think countless crunches will give you the much-envied eight-pack, think again. A complete ab workout should target all three abdominal muscles: the transversus abdominus, which provides support and stability; the rectus abdominus, which flexes the spine; and the internal and external oblique muscles, which are necessary to turn the torso, rotate the body and perform lateral moves.
The next time you begin your ab workout, try incorporating bench crunches, the butterfly or curl up for your upper abdominals or seated leg tucks, the pelvic tilt or bicycle for your lower abs. Since no ab workout would be complete without exercises for the obliques, add cable crunches, twists or a move called the reach and catch.
To be effective, your ab workout should be performed slowly and deliberately. You really do not need to do more than three to four sets of three different exercises (one targeting each of the core muscles). Begin with sets of 10 repetitions before building up to 30.
Ideally, you should perform your ab workout at least twice a week. Remember, when it comes to exercise, less is often more. The entire ab workout doesn’t need to take more than 15 minutes from start to finish in order to be effective.
2. Don’t forget the cardio. You can tone the abdominal muscles all you want but no one is going to notice if they are covered with a layer of fat. Ripped abs demand a comprehensive ab workout and that includes cardio.
It doesn’t matter what form of aerobic exercise you choose. Walking, running, cycling or stairclimbing are just a few of the options that will complement your ab workout. It is critical, however, to raise your heart rate and sustain the effort for at least 30 minutes in order to burn fat. This should be done at least three times a week.
If you want to make the most of your cardio routine, some fitness experts also advise you to do it in the early morning before breakfast. This forces your body to draw energy from its fat stores rather than carbohydrates. It also boosts your metabolism, which causes you to burn fat at a higher rate throughout the day.
3. Watch your diet. While we’re on the subject of fat, we have to talk about diet. Proper nutrition is a must for good health and you won’t get ripped abs without it. Rather than counting calories, try eating five to six small meals a day. This will keep your metabolism burning and sustain your energy for longer periods of time.
Choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible: raw fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice and whole grains), nuts, legumes, lean meat, fish and poultry. Avoid foods that are high in fat or have added sugars.
4. Avoid or reduce alcohol. If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your ab workout, think about decreasing the amount of alcohol you consume or eliminating it all together. Alcohol consumption has been proven to increase your chances of accumulating intra-abdominal fat.
5. Quit smoking. If you need another reason to quit this habit, here’s one. Like alcohol, smoking increases the risk of fat depositing around the organs within your abdomen. In addition to making it hard to see the toned muscles underneath, intra-abdominal fat is linked to the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes among other illnesses.Similar Articles