Optimize Your Abdominal Training
Looking for a way to optimize your abdominal training for the best results? Combine all three varieties of abs movements to hone the perfect six-pack!
Work your abs from every angle
Pounding your abs over and over again with the same exercises will lead only to modest gains and an increased risk of injury. “There are three types of movement which engage your abdominals – and to maximise core workouts you need to be doing all of them,” says personal trainer James King. Mix and match the following selection of exercises from all three movement types for a balanced, intense and effective core workout.
Flexion and extension
“This type of contraction is achieved through the basic sit-up or crunch. Make sure you include reverse crunches to engage the lower abs,” says King.
Lie on your back and raise your knees to 90 degrees, so that your lower legs are parallel to the ground. Now use your abdominals to lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Then, slowly return to the starting position.
Lie down with your legs up in the air, knees slightly bent and lower back pressed into the floor. Contracting your stomach (squeeze it like you’re squeezing water out of a sponge), slowly lift your hips a few inches. Keep your upper body relaxed. At the top of the movement, contract your stomach as hard as you can and hold for a few seconds while exhaling. Then inhale and slowly lower yourself back down to the floor.
King’s tip “Perform these exercises in a slow and controlled manner. Try to take five seconds to go up and 10 seconds to go down.”
Secondly, we have rotation exercises, which work the core through (you guessed it) a twisting movement.
Medicine ball twists
Sit upright on the floor with your knees together and legs slightly bent. Lean back and take your feet off the floor so you are balancing on your backside. Hold a medicine ball in both hands in front of you with the elbows slightly bent. Twist from side to side, ensuring you are moving from your waist, not your shoulders.
Torso rotation (fixed resistance)
Make sure your legs and feet are firm and secure to the torso rotation machine. Slowly flex your abs to rotate your hips from the side to directly in front of you. Hold the position for one second and then return to the starting position.
King’s tip “Make sure you have someone check your form and posture to ensure you are working your abdominals and not your spine.”
The third set of movements are actually static contractions, which focus on tensing the abs, rather than any kind of flexion movement
Hanging leg lifts
Hang from a chin-up bar, tense your mid section and, keeping them straight throughout, lift your legs up slowly. You should raise your legs as high as possible. Once you reach your maximum height, pause for one second, then slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Lie face-down on the floor resting on your forearms, then raise your body up so you are supported by your toes and forearms. Keep your body aligned from your head to your heels.
King’s tip “Concentrate on keeping your breathing slow and controlled in order to help you intensify the contraction.”
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