Are you struggling to get that six pack? Is it even worth it? (That's a question for a different time...) If your goal is to get that summer six-pack, it's important to focus on the right exercises. We've all heard the cliche: "Abs are made in the kitchen." and that still holds true. No matter what ab exercises you're doing or how many, if you have a layer of fat around your belly hiding all that hard work, it won't matter if you're doing 10,000 crunches a day. And speaking of crunches...let's not.
Although the basic crunch is still popular, by now it’s pretty well known that this outdated exercise is not the most effective way to flatten and strengthen your abs. It simply doesn’t activate your core muscles to the extent that other exercises do, it can hurt your back, and the small motion doesn’t do much by way of calorie burning. So please, let's just stop the madness with crunches.
What the basic ab crunch does have going for it is its no-equipment, on-the-go nature. You could plop down onto the ground in a park, a hotel room, at the beach or at the gym to crank out a round of crunches wherever you happen to be.
Not the most effective, but, until now, the most convenient.
It’s time to upgrade your default, basic crunch to a more modern, results-driven exercise. Below I have the most cutting edge no equipment ab exercises to get you one step closer to those washboard abs that you’ve been dreaming about.
Better Than Crunches #1: The Plank
To perform a plank, place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below your shoulders, and your arms parallel to your body shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your core and pay attention to keeping your back flat. Focus on pulling your belly button in as you hold the position for 2 minutes
Better Than Crunches #2: Scissor Kick
To perform a scissor kick, lie with your back into the floor and your arms extended to the sides with your palms facing down. With a slight bend in your knees, lift your legs so that your heels are 6 inches off the ground. Lift your left leg up to about a 45-degree angle while your right leg is still lowered until your heel is about 2-3 inches from the ground. Switch movements by raising your right leg while lowering your left leg. Squeeze your midsection and focus on your breathing as you perform 60-90 seconds of the exercise.
Here's a good video on how to do scissor kicks:
Better Than Crunches #3: V-Ups
To perform a v-up, lie down on your back on the floor and extend your arms behind your head. The back of your hands should lightly touch the floor while your palms face the ceiling. Keep your feet close together and point your toes toward the ceiling. Lift your legs up, keeping them straight at the same time that you raise your upper body off the floor and reach for your toes. Exhale and squeeze your abdominal muscles as you reach for your toes before slowly lowering yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat a series of 12-20 repetitions.
Better Than Crunches #4: Reverse Crunch
To perform a reverse crunch, lie on the floor with your feet flat on the floor and hands behind your head. Press your lower back into the floor and pull in your belly button as you lift your feet off of the floor. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and pull into your chest so that your tailbone raises off of the ground, and at the same time lift your shoulder blades off of the floor. Focus on squeezing your abs to perform the movement. Slowly lower your shoulders, hips and legs to the starting position, keeping your feet just above the floor. Repeat the movement for 12-20 repetitions while squeezing your abs and focusing on your breathing.
Click here to see a reverse crunch in action.
Better Than Crunches #5: Russian Twist
To perform a Russian twist, lie on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle while raising your upper body off of the ground. Exhale while you twist your torso to the right side until your arms are parallel with the floor. Pull your belly button in and squeeze, then slowly move back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side and continue to repeat both sides for 60-90 seconds. For added resistance, hold onto a medicine ball or other weight you can manage while still maintaining your form.
There you have it, five modern, results-driven abdominal exercises that you can perform anywhere! Aim to work your abs at least twice a week for the best results.
It’s worth mentioning again that while strengthening your abdominal muscles is a great way to tighten your waist, none of the amazing muscle tone will show if your body fat is above 20 percent. In order to shed the fat and get that amazing six-pack, you need a fat burning strategy to get lean enough to show off that six pack.
If you're not sure exactly what to do or how to get started with a challenging exercise program, contact me today. Let’s get you started on the most effective exercise and fat loss program that you’ll ever try without having to spend hours a day in the gym.
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*Some photos courtesy of www.focusfitness.net
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