Ab Exercises: The Truth about the “Six Pack”

Great Abs with Exercises

Core workouts should be a key part of everyone’s workout plan.  If you’re like most people, you want a flatter stomach and stronger abdominal (Abs) muscles.  Sure they look great but the best reason for having functionally strong Abs are the priceless benefits they provide for both injury performance and injury protection.

Secondary to the far reaches of our solar system, the human abdominal musculature seems to contain some of man’s greatest mysteries.  Plagued by countless myths of strengthening exercises, bizarre abdominal exercise machines and dietary rituals, the Abs have become far more complicated than they need to be.

As a professional football athletic trainer and physical therapist with a passion for fitness, I have personally witnessed the ever increasing onslaught of misguided information with a concerning eye.

So today I want to clarify the difference between the important facts and the confusing myths within the sports medicine world.

Because most exercises for abs are time-consuming and poorly structured, many athletes are at a higher risk of a low back injury.  Improper technique and poor body mechanics are the major factors for low back pain when performing traditional abdominal exercises.

However strong abdominal muscles are indeed important. And not just to look good on the beach or in that new sleek party dress.  Although those may be good visual reasons, the health and function factors are the critical factors everyone should be concerned with.

In fact, if you were to select only one muscle group on your body to condition, what group would that be?  If you were wise, the answer would be “my Abs”!

Why are your abdominal muscles so significant? To demonstrate the many reasons, join me in these simple exercises. First, put one of your hands firmly across your abdomen.  Now use your other arm to push your hand into any part of your leg.  Now push your leg into the ground.  Next, start to whistle.  Did you notice that your abs quickly contracted with all three of these elementary tasks?  The truth is that your abdominal muscles work with almost EVERY movement or function of your body?  I find that type of complexity fascinating and so will you when you learn to effectively train your abs.

Abdominal Myths

Myth #1

“Your Abs can be strengthened every day”.

FACT – The truth is with a high intensity workout, your Abs are no different from any other muscle group and need 48 hours to recover.

Myth #2

“A Core Workout requires at least 30 minutes of exercise”.

FACT – If you are taking more than 12 minutes to complete the exercises for Abs, you are either not isolating your Abs at a high enough intensity or you are giving them way too much rest.

Myth #3

“Full situps, leg raises and hanging knee tucks are a must to strengthen the Abs”.

FACT – Of your four abdominal groups, not a single muscle fiber crosses over your hip joints. This means that full sit-ups, leg raises and hanging knee tucks are dangerous leg and hip motions that can easily injury your low back because your ABS are not the prime movers in these exercises.

8 Tips For Your Six Pack Abs Workout

1)   Technique is the #1 most important component of each drill.

2)   Perform a COMPLETE exhalation with every upward movement of the drills.

3)   Listen to your body to ensure that you are experiencing intense fatigue and a cramping sensation in the exact area being isolated.

4)   A slow and controlled isolated muscle movement in both directions at a high intensity is the key to rapid results.

5)   If you want to showcase your newly awoken muscle, reduce your abdominal fat with a consistent aerobic exercise program and a low fat diet.

6)   Perform your abdominal drills 3 times per week avoiding back to back days.

7)   Only perform these drills on a firm surface like a carpet or a padded workout mat.

8)   Allow only 20 seconds rest between ALL drills.

Core Workouts: An Overview

The scope of this article is to introduce the basic concepts of my upcoming dynamic trunk stability eBook.  Understanding this will ensure you properly and SAFELY train your Abs during any core workout.

As with any ab exercises and workout programs, it is wise to consult your physician before starting.

Utilizing these principles with your Abs workout is a very effective way to develop a strong and healthy trunk.  Remember, besides looking and feeling great, strong Abs is one of the most effective steps to significantly reduce your chances of injuring your lower back!

As for you, my objective is to help you improve your health and fitness each & every day.  And having stronger Abs is a great way to start.

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