Years ago, people pursuing an abdominal six-pack performed sit-ups repeatedly – some as many as 300 or more daily. Over time, however, as researchers and exercise physiologists learned more about the abs, or core, sit-ups fell out of favor for more effective ab exercises that would target all four abdominal muscles.
To effectively work the core muscles, and get that sought-after six pack, ab exercises need to target all four abdominal muscles: the rectus abdominus, the transverse abdominus and the internal and external obliques.
Today, there are multiple ab exercises that can help you shape up your middle. Bear in mind that if you carry a layer of fat on the top of your ab muscles, it doesn’t really matter how many or which ab exercises you do. Unfortunately, no one will see these toned muscles under that fat layer. The best way to sculpt your midsection is to combine fat-burning cardio activity with a variety of ab exercises that will strengthen these important muscles.
A combination of regular cardio work, different ab exercises and a low-fat, healthy diet can help you look and feel better. Incorporate moves like crunches, planks, side planks, V-sits and a handful of yoga poses and Pilates exercises to hit all ab muscle groups and strengthen your body from the center.
For recommendations of exercises, scope out online resources, review fitness magazines, ask trainers at your health club, rent a workout video or take a class. If you are more advanced, add tools such as light dumbbells, kettlebells, elastic bands and suspension straps to increase challenge and variety. You can perform ab exercises standing, seated, kneeling or lying down.
And if you can’t do a full workout session, be sure to squeeze in some ab exercises at home while you watch TV or before you go to bed. Or start your day with a quick set to get you moving. Vary your routine periodically to maintain results and keep yourself motivated.