- Exercise & Fitness
Flatten Your Stomach And Chisel Those Abs
Let's face it, the way your midsection looks has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself. Everybody desires washboard abs, or in the very least a flat tummy. A small tight midsection improves the appearance of your torso and makes your shoulders and back look wider. But vanity isn't the only reason you should develop your abdominal and oblique muscles. Almost all upper-body and lower-body exercises require a firm midsection, and strong abdominals help to transfer power from your upper body to your lower body (and vice versa) efficiently.
But exercise alone is not enough for maximum abdominal definition.
Abdominal work is not the way to lose fat around the midsection. The best fat burning exercises are aerobic movements such as jogging, fastwalking, cycling, rope jumping, dance aerobics, bike and row machine exercises.
If you want a flat tummy, you'll need to cut way down on sugars, fats, alcohol and salt. You'll need to eat plenty of raw fruit, fresh vegetables, rice, lean meat, poultry, fish and whole grains. You'll have to cut out junk food and sugar loaded soft drinks. You should avoid cheeses, gravies, whole milk, butter, margarine and animal fat.
If you want chiseled abs you'll need to do all the above AND do abdominal exercises.
Perseverance is all-important, especially if you're starting out overweight.
Kinesiology & Physiology
Since no weight is used on most ab exercises, the only way to create intensity to cause a burn in the abs is through higher reps and shorter rest periods between sets. You have to train the abs vigorously and intensely. You can't do that resting five minutes between sets.
For best results there should be little or no rest periods. The entire ab workout should be like an aerobic workout. Pick three or more exercises and do them all non-stop. After one cycle or giant set you can rest one minute. Then repeat the cycle another two or three times. This creates very high intensity, promotes sweating and fat burning, and gives the abs a strenuous workout. The entire ab workout should not take more than 15 minutes. Train your abs like this three or four times a week and you should receive maximum ab development.
Do aerobics along with your weight-training and ab workout. Aerobic exercise speeds up your metabolism, gives you increased fat burning, and strengthens the heart and lungs. If you are more than 15 pounds overweight, and have a slow metabolism (endomorphic), you'll need a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobics daily. After several months, build this up to 45-60 minutes a day. This can be in the form of walking, jogging, cycling, stair climbing, aerobic classes, rowing machines, the StairMaster... it doesn't matter which activity you do as long as you do it on a regular basis.
If you are only 15 pounds or less overweight and tend to be naturally muscular (mesomorphic), you can get away with 30 minutes of aerobics three or four times a week.
You might do aerobics on your off days. If you do weight-training four days a week, then do aerobics on the other three.
Try performing crunches on a bed or trampoline or other soft spongy surface. Added midsection contraction is realized when the abdominals are worked from a non-solid base.
Hanging Leg Raises
This is a particularly intense frontal abdominal exercise because pulling the weight of your lower body upward puts a great deal of stress on the lower abdominal wall. It's probably the hardest of the abdominal exercises so it should be done first when you are fresh.
Reach or jump up and grasp a chinning bar with a shoulder-width grip, your palms facing forward. Hanging beneath the bar, bend your legs and bring your knees up to waist level. Pull the knees up as if you were trying to hit yourself in the chin. The motion should be similar to that of curling a barbell.
Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your knees and pelvis until the legs straighten out to the starting position.