As a personal trainer, I get asked this question at least once a day, “Which the best exercises to get firm, flat and toned abdominals?” It’s not an easy question to address, since there are hundreds of abdominal exercises.
Let’s face it. Our eyes gravitate towards a flat and well toned abdominal region. We all want that elusive flat, firm and enviable look of washboard abs’. The muscles of your abdominal region, and indeed the midsection aren’t isolated; they weave through your torso like a web of high-tensile steel, and it’s critical to train them the right way.
So how do you get results fast? A recent study by the American Council on Exercise has the answer. Let’s discover the 3 most effective exercises to get flat abdominals, the correct way to breathe during abdominal exercises and tips and tricks to get results faster. I have integrated these exercises to help thousands of clients get results. You can view my clients in action with exercise videos and download full color abdominal exercise routines, diet plans and ebooks by registering on my websites mentioned at the end of this article.
A California study conducted by the American Council on Exercise has determined that the classic sit-up is not the best answer for stronger, flatter abdominals. The conclusions were intriguing, to say the least. The traditional sit-up was among the least effective abdominal muscle exercises.
Sit-ups (in which you raise your trunk up from the floor with your knees straight or bent) involve the hip muscles disproportionately relative to the abdominals. This means the hip muscles work more and the abdominal muscles work less i.e they are not getting trained in the right manner. In addition, there is an unnecessary (and potentially harmful) strain on the lower back. The sit-up is not only ineffective, but potentially harmful.
There’s more, and it’s equally surprising. The study indicated that several gadgets for the abdominals were either ineffective or marginally more effective than a regular abdominal crunch, which doesn’t cost you anything, other than the time required to learn the right technique.
Now for the big news. The top three abdominal muscle exercises were:
The Bicycle maneuver. The Captains Chair. Crunch on an exercise ball.
For best results.
Start with 2-3 sets of each exercise, 8-10 repetitions. Increase by 8-10 repetitions each week till you work your way up to a set of 40 repetitions in each set. 2 sets of 35-40 repetitions a day for the abdominals is ideal, and you do not need to train more than that.
Breathing during abdominal muscle exercises.
With all abdominal muscle exercises, exhale as you contract / exert / come up / crunch your abdominals; inhale as you relax / lower / return to the starting position.
Points to remember.
1. If you have lower back injuries or pain, consult a doctor before you begin, so you don’t hurt yourself. Also see a physician if you are over 35, have been sedentary for a long time, have high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, are a smoker, have chest pains or shortness of breath or have had a joint or muscle injury.
2. It’s not the number of repetitions, but the quality and technique that gets results. Overdoing sit-ups can hurt your lower back. Besides, the best way to get those flat lower abdominal muscles is to be patient for 8-10 weeks, eat a healthy diet and do regular aerobic exercise.