Most of the questions I am asked about my physique are to do with 'the Abs'. Sometimes I feel like they need their own agent! And NO I don't, and never have done and never will do 100's of sit-ups a day!
To get visible abdominal muscles and a lean mid section involves several things. Clean nutrition, excellent training technique and working on all layers of your midsection. You will then start to give yourself a fighting chance to say hello to that six pack that we all love so much.
Now for the science bit as it were:
Your Transverse Abdominus muscle is what we would generally understand as the main core muscle. This has a corseting like effect for your midsection. Think of it's location as in between your belly button and your spine. Drawing this in will give you much greater strength in movement and posture. It is different to sucking yourself in to make you look thinner. This can be learnt through Pilates, Yoga and core strength training from a good personal trainer. By learning to do this it will help strengthen your mid section before you start working on the 'pretty' abs. It will also go a long way towards better strength and injury prevention. Master this and you will be able incorporate it into all areas of your training and life in general.
There is not a second during my work outs when my core isn't switched on. No need for 100's of sit-ups! It’s always working.
Now you can get to work on the Rectus Abdominus, (the six pack). The action of this muscle group is actually to flex your trunk, so if all you ever did is sit-ups for this area, then bad posture and a weak lower back are possible outcomes. On this note an actual sit-up as apposed to a crunch only minimally works the abdominals any way. I am not saying it is an unsafe or invalid exercise, it definitely has it's place but consider the job of the muscles.
As you do a sit-up initially the Rectus Abdominus flexes the trunk but at approximately 45 degrees your hip flexors and lower back join in to finish the movement. Here are some of my current abdominal exercises:
Once my clients have mastered the core, I find crunches on the exercise ball are great as you can achieve a good range of movement. With a slight twist you can incorporate the obliques too.
To round off a mid section work out don't forget the lower back, keep your muscles in balance.
There is a lot to be said for mastering the basics before rushing in, you will achieve greater benefits in the end.
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