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How To Get A Toned, Flat Stomach
One of the most common fitness
questions this time of year is "How can I tone my stomach for swimsuit
season?" Typically, people believe that the guaranteed quick route to
obtaining a rock-solid six-pack is a path packed with hundreds of sit-ups or
abdominal crunches. Wrong!
The reality is that even if you
do crunches every day you aren't guaranteed to get the stomach you desire.
Getting those highly sought after, toned abs requires more work than just
abdominal exercises. Plus, as far as stomach exercises go, sit-ups or crunches
alone are not the solution.
We won't go into detail about
the muscles that make up the abdominal wall, but it's good to know the basic
information. At a high-level the abdominal/trunk area consists of 5 major
muscles. It's necessary that all of these muscles be exercised. It's also
important to utilize different types of training techniques like concentric,
eccentric and isometric.
In addition to training those
muscles, it is imperative that you also reduce the fat in your stomach area. If
you don't decrease the fat in this area, then you'll never see well-defined
abdominal muscles not matter how long and hard you train them.
The key to reducing body fat is
a comprehensive workout program that consists of cardiovascular, strength, and
flexibility exercises. Plus, don't forget a healthy diet. Good examples of
cardio exercises are: walking, swimming, aerobics, and jogging. Strength
training can be done with dumbbells, resistance bands and even just your own
body weight. Flexibility can be as simple as a few stretches held in place for
about 20 seconds.
Now, back to the specifics of
abdominal training. Traditional crunches can be a part of your abdominal
training, but should be limited and certainly shouldn't be the only part. To
most effectively work your stomach area, it's necessary to include about 80%
rotational work. Rotational exercises are those that include twisting-type
methods. Simple crunches do not fall into the rotational category because you
simply lift your body straight up and down.
To most effectively train your
abs, incorporate a lot of variety, including different positions and equipment.
This will allow your muscles to continually be challenged, which is what will
help make them stronger and more defined. Remember that you don't have to lie
on your back in the supine position to work your stomach area. There are
hundreds of different ways to work them, including exercises in a standing
position, on your side, raised on a ball, hanging from a bar, etc.
Don't forget the importance
of form. If you don't use correct form when performing abdominal exercises,
you'll severely limit the effectiveness not to mention possibly cause an
injury. Tips for correct form include:
ever pull on your neck or head
allow your legs to move, they should remain still -- let your abs do all the
to keep your belly button pulled in toward the floor throughout the entire
To get you started, below are a
few sample exercises* with instructions. Start working out today, and you can
show-off your toned abs in time for summer.
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place
your hands lightly behind your head for support. Using your abdominal muscles
lift your shoulders a few inches off the ground, pause briefly and return to
start position. Complete at least one set of 10-12 reps.
Standing Towel Circle:
Stand tall and hold a small towel (or resistance band) taut overhead.
Contract abs and slowly draw a large, wide circle over your head and around your
torso with your hands. Keep towel pulled taut throughout. Return to
beginning position and reverse the circular direction. Complete at least one set
of 8-10 reps in each direction.
Oblique Twist With Ball:
Begin by sitting on the ball. Walk feet forward until ball is resting
under your back -- body is now parallel to the floor. Place hands lightly
behind head for support. Using your abdominal muscles slowly crunch up
lifting your shoulder blades off of the ball and rotate left shoulder toward
right hip. Return to starting parallel position and repeat then switch
For access to a huge library of
exercises demonstrations (including demos for the above exercises), visit: http://www.workoutsforyou.com
*You should always consult your
physician before trying any new exercise programs.
Lynn Bode, author
and certified personal trainer, offers her services online through
Workouts For You provides
affordable online exercise programs to help even
the busiest of people lose weight, tone-up, build muscles, increase
stamina and more via the Internet. Let us
guide you one-on-one through your fitness journey. Visit: http://www.workoutsforyou.com for
a free sample workout.
About the author: Lynn Bode is a certified personal trainer specializing in
Internet-based fitness programs. She founded Workouts For You, which
provides affordable online exercise programs that are custom designed for
each individual. Visit: http://www.workoutsforyou.com for a free sample
workout and to sign-up for their monthly fitness newsletter. Fitness
professionals, visit: http://www.trainerforce.com
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