Health & Fitness: The ABsolute Science of Abs

By Ashley Aragona on July 18, 2012 from Health & Fitness via

One of the most common questions any personal trainer, instructor, or fitness professional gets is “what exercises can I do to get abs?”  The answer is simple, even though it’s two part
  1. You already have abs, we just need to make them visible
  2. You don’t see a six pack by just doing crunches, it’s includes lot more than that, it includes diet and cardio as well.
So, how then do you begin to get that six pack you’ve always dreamed of? Well, even though I have to give the disclaimer that certain things do have an effect on your midsection, genetics, health, etc, generally speaking I think it’s as simple as three steps.
1.“Abs are made in the kitchen”    Say wha????? I don’t mean that we are cooking up body parts in a Crockpot. What this means is that your path to a great six pack starts at the fridge.
You should be consuming your calories from three main sources:
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
Proteins, such as those in fish, eggs and poultry, are the best options because they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs for maintaining tissues.
For carbohydrates, low-glycemic options, such as whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread and brown rice, are best. This type of carbohydrate generally takes longer to digest and does not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. For fats, the unsaturated varieties, which occur in fish, avocado and plant-based oils, are the healthiest
In addition eating six small meals a day keeps your body’s digestive process active, which in turn boosts your metabolism- something we all love.
2. Cardio-It doesn’t seem like the obvious answer to “how do I get abs?” but this takes us back to point one-we all have abs, they are just hidden below excess fat.  Shoot for cardio 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Aim for a speed that makes it difficult to carry a conversation, but not so fast you can’t even say “SLOW DOWN."
3. Core training as well as TOTAL BODY TRAINING- Your body works as a whole. You can’t just zone in on one spot and expect to build just that muscle. Total body training will turn you into a lean, mean, fat-shedding machine. Adding core training and targeting your abs with ab exercises strengthen them as well.
A 2001 study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research measured relative electromyographic activity in muscles to assess how deeply they were activated with different exercises. The study determined that, out of several common ab activities, these were the best:
  • Reverse curl is the best at activating your lower rectus abdominus;
  • V-sits and reverse curls are best for your external obliques;
  • Trunk curls, reverse curls, trunk curls with a twist and v-sits all had a similarly noteworthy amount of upper abdominal activity.
Try to do three sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise for starters, working your way up to up to five sets. To really challenge yourself and your abs, between sets, do a 30-second "hold" parallel to the ground while balancing on your toes and your forearms, while tensing your torso to stay rigid. Work your way up to one-minute holds or 20 push-ups between sets.
For many people, the hardest thing about “getting a six pack” is getting out of the mindset that doing 1000s of crunches will get you there. Remember, your body works as a whole, it takes multiple factors to get that set of perfect abs, but once you get the equation down, you are that much closer to your dream mid section.
Finally, remember to drink plenty of water, get 8 hours of rest each night, and be patient with yourself, just like a delicacy made in the kitchen, cooking up good abs takes time, so don’t expect results over night. With a little discipline, and dedication, you’ll soon be cooking up some hot abs yourself.
Until next time,
Yours in Health and Fitness

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