Tips for Tighter Abdominals
- Properly Warm-Up – Start each workout by stretching your abdominal area forward, backward and sideways. Also perform exercises that engage your lower back. This prevents injury to your core and the connecting muscles.
- Breathe Correctly – When doing sit-ups or crunches, breathe correctly. To do so, exhale on the way up and inhale on the way down.
- Keep Your Chin Up – When performing sit-ups or crunches, be sure to keep your chin to the ceiling. Do not allow it to drop to your collar-bone. (1)Throughout the exercise, keep your shoulders down and your neck relaxed. This prevents excessive pressure on your neck and ensures proper form.
- Start Small -When tackling a large problem, break it into small parts and accomplish each one. That builds a solid foundation, ensuring long-term success. As with building you core, start small, at your fitness level, then build your strength from there.
- Pay Attention – These exercises are for you. Show how much you value your workouts by focusing on your abdominals as you perform each repetition. Creating a mind-body connection enriches your exercise time and gives you a greater abdominal workout.
- Perform Kegel Exercises- Kegel exercises engage the pelvic floor by using the transverse abdominis and lower back. The best way to do these exercises is to pretend you are stopping your urine mid-stream. Squeeze and release. (3)
- Enhance Your Sit-Up – Most of us know how to perform a sit-up: lie on your back; bend your knees; place your fingers tips behind your ears; and raise your upper body to a sitting position. To enhance your crunch, keep your ribcage contracted as you perform the exercise.
- Work All Sides of Your Core (2 ) – Perform abdominal exercises that work the core in all planes: frontal, Sagittal and transverse planes. This ensures balance of the core muscles.
- Intensify Your Workouts – Once you have a strong core, add to your workouts by grabbing a pair of dumbbells. The added weight gives your abdominal exercises the needed kick to burn the extra fat and create your six pack.
- Vary Your Core Exercises – Performing exercises such as plank holds or plank jacks, engages more of the abdominal muscles. They can be added to any sit up or crunch routine.
To perform a plank jack, lie on a floor face down, come onto your toes and your elbows. Support your body by maintaining a straight line. Do not let your back sway. Jump your feet out and in, as if you were doing a standing jumping jack.
- Strengthen Surrounding Muscles – To assist with core development, strengthen the muscles connecting to them such as the gluteal muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps. Squats, lunges and bridges are great exercises to perform.
- Strive for Muscle Balance –Each muscle group has an opposing muscle group: biceps and triceps, quads and hamstrings, chest and upper back. The abdominal muscles are no different. Be sure to incorporate lower back strengthening exercises to balance any core work.
- Use Balancing Equipment – Balancing equipment such as a stability ball, Bosu ball or balance board increases the effectiveness of core exercises.
- Vary Exercise Speed – When performing sit ups, crunches or plank exercises, vary the speed of the repetitions. Going slowly, moderately, or at a quick pace ensures the muscles won’t get used to your routine and will continue to grow.
- Shake It Up –The body adapts quickly to a routine. Be sure to change it up every few weeks. This allows the muscles to grow and strengthen continuously.
- Time Under Tension–Keeping your abdominals flexed or engaged throughout the entire exercise, increases the effectiveness of them.
- Work Backwards – Try starting workouts with oblique work or all-over core exercises. Many people focus on the upper part of the abdominal muscles. By selecting exercises that engage the full abdominal wall, a more balanced workout is achieved.
- Take a Class – Join a Yoga or Pilate’s class. The posing, stretching and mind-body connections strengthen the core without breaking down and rebuilding muscles. If you’d rather do Yoga from home, you can’t go wrong with Yoga Burn!
- Six-Packs Are Made in the Kitchen –Nutrition is 80%, exercise is 10% and genetics is 10%. Strong abdominals begin in the kitchen. A proper diet must be established and maintained consistently over a period of time to develop a six-pack.
- Remember to Rest– Remember to Rest (4) – All fitness routines require a day of rest. Be sure to rest the abdominals. In addition, be sure to get enough sleep to allow proper recovery.