4 exercises to get excellent abs
Contrary to what late night infomercials say, you can not get the abs you desire “in just minutes a day.” Summer is here, and now’s the time I begin reminding Angie’s List employees that it can take several months of healthy eating and working out to get the six-pack abs to look good poolside.
To tackle the abdominal monster, begin with a well-balanced diet. Cut out the sugars and refined flours, and replace them with lean cuts of protein, high quality grains and fresh produce. Changing your diet will help you gain lean muscle that will fuel your body during workouts and help you reach your goal.
Doing just sit-ups isn’t going to give you a well-sculpted midsection. Instead, work on overall body construction. The more lean muscle gained, the higher your metabolism is raised, which increases your body’s ability to burn stored fat. This is achieved through resistance or strength training by lifting free weights or using machines to work muscles in the legs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps.
After completing 30 to 40 minutes of resistance training, let your cardiovascular system do the work. Interval training — which involves bursts of high intensity work, such as walking for three minutes and then sprinting for one minute and repeating until you’ve completed a 30-minute session — is an excellent way to burn unwanted fat and break up the monotony of cardio workouts.
Change your workouts and training every three to four weeks to make your muscles work differently to burn fat, and if you need help along the way, consider using a personal trainer who can keep you on track.
Now that you’ve unlocked key components to help you melt away the layers of fat that hide in your abs, get them to stand out with these 4 abdominal exercises. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions each.*
(*Consult with and get approval from your physician before beginning any exercise routine.)
1. Basic crunch
A. Place both hands behind the ears (do not clasp the hands).
B. Slowly curl your shoulders, head and upper back away from the floor.
C. Exhale as you curl upward, hold for three to four seconds and slowly return to the floor.
2. Bridge with knee tuck
A. Place feet hip width apart and hands under the shoulders to form a bridge.
B. Bring the right knee forward and across to the left elbow.
C. Hold for two seconds and return to the start position (after 10 reps, repeat with left knee/right elbow).
3. Leg lifts
A. Lie on the floor with navel drawn to the spine and feet at a 90 degree angle and hands down to the side of the body.
B. Slowly lower the legs to 2 to 3 inches from the ground. Hold for two seconds and exhale as you slowly bring the legs back to the 90 degree angle.
4. Ball rollout
A. With hands on the stability ball, keep it an arm’s length away from the body.
B. Roll the ball forward using hips and abdominals until forearms and elbows are holding the body and the ball is steady.
C. Exhale as you return to the start position.
About the author: Kelsey Taylor is a certified personal trainer with the International Fitness Professionals Association, a sports nutritionist and a strength training instructor with more than 12 years of experience. For the past four years, she’s worked at Angie’s List as the wellness director serving more than 900 employees.