Last week our blog focused on building strong, muscular legs and lower body exercises. We challenged our VIP group to a squat challenge, performing 100 squats a day for 2 weeks.
To anyone who has taken the challenge, how did week 1 go? If you aren’t in love with squats yet, don’t worry, you will be.
But this week, we want to move to the core area and give our followers a healthy dose of “six-pack facts, tips and tools” that can be used to go along with any kind of garage gym routine or full-scale gym routine.
The very first thing you must understand is that six-packs don’t come overnight (although the soreness might!). Unless you start your training at an already low body fat percentage, it takes time and dedication to training and healthy eating. You must stay patient and trust the process while diligently working your body as a whole, not just targeting your abs.
You don’t need to train abs every day. Because our abs and core are used in virtually every single functional movement, they are always in use. If you have a layer of belly fat still, your abs might not be as visible. Do not fall into the belief that if you only work your abs then you will get a flatter tummy and your abs will pop. This is not the case. It takes the body as a whole to burn the fat that you see.
Don’t think that doing 100’s of sit-ups a day will give you those washboard abs. Performing crunches actually burns very little calories per minute. While they will improve the strength of your abs, they won't do a lot to help shed the layer of fat covering the abs.
You need to have a strong back to have strong abs. With everything, there is an action and a reaction. Your back muscles are the counteraction or supporting muscles to your abs. You need to equally work your back so you can also work your core. The exercises we demonstrate later will do that!
The abs work in unison with the different muscle groups: rectus abdominous, the obliques, the transverse abdominous, and all of the tiny stabilizers that lie within the deep intrinsic core. You can’t isolate every single individual part of the abdomen, but there are specific exercises that engage some parts rather than others. Your abs must be trained with a variety of extension, flexion, rotation and static holds.
Have we convinced you yet?
You need to perform more functional body movements to strengthen your core as a whole rather than just trying to focus on your abs.
So how can we do that?
Incorporating tools like ab mats, ab wheels, exercise balls, and bodyweight functional movements, you can sculpt and tone the six-pack abs you’ve always wanted. We did some digging and found some of the best ways for you to get started. Check out some of the information we have below about the tools you can use and instructional videos on how to get the best overall abdominal workout.
Ab mats are a simply designed tool that is basically a piece of covered foam and board with a 30 degree sloping arch. This arch is designed for your lower back so when you perform a sit up over it, it supports your spine through the movement causing you to utilize the full range of motion in your abs. This requires more effort to do, making it a more effective workout.
When it comes to working your abs and core, it is imperative to perform exercises that allow the muscle to contract from its fully extended position to its fully contracted position. During a sit-up, this environment cannot happen when simply laying on the floor with a flat back to perform sit-ups. It can happen, however, when we place an ab mat with the higher portion towards your bum allowing the abdominals to move through the now fully available range of motion.
So if you want to start working your core more effectively, move away from just doing crunches or sit-ups and add an ab mat to your routine.
New to the idea of using an ab mat? Check out one of our past blog posts that go over the benefits of using an ab mat and why you should be using one.
Ab wheels are not for the faint of heart or those with a weak core and upper body. If you are looking for a challenging, inexpensive way to really shred your ab muscles then you should get an ab wheel. You’ll be begging your friends not to make you laugh for days after you have workout with one of these...you WILL be sore.
The unique capability of using an ab wheel is there are many different moves you can do with them to target the different abdominal muscles. They are not a stationary time, they roll with you and therefore require strength and control in your upper body as a whole. Likewise, it will help you build that control as you use it.
You can perform moves such as an ab rollout, ab rollout to the left and to the right, oblique mountain climbers, pike rollouts, and much more. We already have an article that is loaded with examples of ways you can use your ab wheel. Check it out here, “Best Ab Workouts To Ramp Up Your Core Workout.”
Many hard core gym gurus have a stigma in their minds about exercise balls from the days when granny used them in her yoga class. But don’t be surprised at how sore you will get if you decide to jump on a stability ball and try out some of the core exercises we have available.
The best part about working your core using an exercise ball is that your entire body engages to keep your balance while performing the movements. It takes all of the smaller supporting muscles to keep yourself stable.
There are loads of different variations you can do to start sculplting your six-pack with a stability ball. To get you started, check out this awesome video by Runtastic Fitness for her demonstration.