Thursday, February 10, 2005

3 Things You Must Do For Six Pack Abs

Whether you want to get six pack abs or trim down the love handles around your mid-section, there are 3 "key" areas you need to focus on to lose that spare tire.

Strong abs not only help strengthen your lower back, but also improve your posture. Most lower back injuries occur, believe it or not, due to weak abs. Focus on these three areas and over time, you'll see improved results.

Key # 1- Proper cardio

You can have the most muscular set of abs in the world, but if they're blanketed by a layer of body fat, they will never be noticed. In order to rid yourself of the extra body fat around your midsection, you need to use effective cardio in your fitness plan.

You cannot spot-reduce the midsection by doing extra ab exercises like crunches or sit-ups. You first must burn off the body fat through proper cardio to properly define the area. Abdominal training by itself does nothing for melting away fat around the stomach.

Three to four sessions a week, 20 minutes at a time, of intense jogging, running, the Stairmaster, the elliptical, jumping rope, or biking is enough to get the process in gear. Swimming, hiking, and taking aerobics classes are beneficial as well.

Cardio helps to create a calorie deficit and rid the body of the fat that covers your abs.

Key # 2- Proper Nutrition

Melting fat is accomplished by proper nutrition more than cardio. At the end of the day, if you have consumed more calories than you have burned, you add body fat. So you need to burn more calories than you consume.

Nutrition is important because you can reduce the amount of calories you take in, therefore reducing amount you have to burn through cardio. Eat five to six small, well-balanced meals spaced apart about every three to four hours. Try to keep something healthy on hand.

Try to avoid simple sugars like cane sugar, honey, fruit juices, syrups, and even a lot of fruit. Also try to avoid refined, processed carbs like white bread and cereals.

Drink at least a gallon of clean water each day as well. It will help in nutrient absorption and digestion and will help flush toxins from the body.

Bottom line, it's easier to reduce the amount of calories you have to burn by taking in less of them when you eat.

Again, the key to getting six pack abs is ridding your body of the fat covering the abs.
The only way to do this is by creating a calorie deficit so that your body burns calories for needed fuel. When you burn stored calories, you're burning body fat. The way to properly do this is a combo of increased, intense cardio and a gradual reduction of calories.

Key # 3- Weight training the abdominals

Here's where most people go wrong in their attempt to develop their abs.
If you want proper ab development, you need to add resistance (weight) to your ab exercises. Abs are muscles just like biceps, triceps, pecs, glutes, whatever. You need resistance to properly strengthen and build them. The same goes for abdominals.

Here are some effective ab exercises to incorporate for proper ab stimulation.

Weighted crunches-- Grab a dumbbell, either hold it in front of your face, or let it lie on your upper chest, under your chin, and perform regular crunches. You are now using your abs more to work against the leverage the dumbbell has created.

Cable Rope crunches-- Grab the tricep rope, kneel on your knees, and bend downwards, forcefully contracting your abs on the way down. It's basically a crunch, only, you are on your knees. But the contraction is the same. Don't swing with the hips, you are not using the abs very much if you do. Just a slight, 30 degree contraction until you feel the abs contract, hold for a couple seconds, then back up.

Weighted leg raises-- Lie flat on your back, with your hands tucked under your butt. Wrap your feet around a small dumbbell, and perform leg raises. Start with your feet about 6 inches from the ground, then raise them about 12-16 inches from the ground and then back down slowly.

Seated ab machine-- Once again, do not swing all the way down, just far enough (30 degrees) to fully contract the abs, hold for a couple seconds, then back up. This is very similar to Cable rope crunches.

Stability Ball Crunches-- Working on the stability ball will incorporate balance into your abdominal work. These are effective at strengthening your core region, which is your abs and lower back. Lie down on a stability ball like you are going to perform a crunch.

Position yourself on the ball so your lower back is resting on it. Keep your feet close together on the floor making your body less stable (helps incorporate more balance on your part) and place your hands behind your head or folded on your chest. Crunch your upper body towards your knees, exhaling as you contract your abs.

Regardless of what exercise you do, the key is to add resistance. If not, you'll never increase the amount of lean muscle tissue in the area.

Once again, treat your abs like any other muscle group. Combine your ab training with proper diet and intense cardio and that elusive six-pack will soon be yours!

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