A Simple, Effective Abdominal Workout

Most exercisers are completely obsessed with abdominal training. But, over the years, I’ve found that many don’t know anything about their ‘ab’ muscles, let alone how best to work them. So, before I delve into a full explanation of the latter, let me first start with a little ‘abdominal anatomy 101’.

The abdominals (or simply “abs”) are primarily comprised of three parts including the rectus abdominus (commonly called the “six pack”), internal and external obliques (those “hands-in-pockets” looking muscles underneath the love handles), and the transverse abdominus, which wraps around the waist like a weight lifting belt would.

A strong set of abs (in conjunction with a stable lower back) is essential for performing any activities that generally require turning, twisting, and bending. The abdominal muscles also play a crucial role in maintaining good balance and posture, and stabilizing the spine in ways that prevent the occurrence of lower back pain.

Related Article: Causes of Low Back Pain: Can Exercise Help?

Now, these days, people spend large volumes of their precious workout time ‘ab’ lounging, ‘ab’ rowing, ‘ab’ rocking, and performing hundreds and hundreds of crunches. But, unbeknownst to many, the appealing look of a six pack is simply impossible if there’s excess fat present in and around the abdominal region.

Related Article: The Secret to Great Abs

Let me break this down a bit further.

The abdominal region is encompassed by an external layer of skin, an internal layer of subcutaneous fat (just underneath the skin), and then there are those ab muscles. However, there’s also a deeper layer of fat tissue located just behind the abs known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is situated in and around all the internal organs housed in the abdominal region.

Excess weight gain involves an accumulation of both subcutaneous fat (distributed throughout the entire body giving the appearance of ‘flab’) and visceral fat, which tends to cause the abdominal muscles to protrude giving the appearance of a ‘paunch’, ‘gut’ or ‘beer belly’.

Related Article: Why Exercise Alone Won’t Get Rid of Belly Fat

Given these facts, in order to really improve the overall appearance of the abs, it’s important to combine a sensible diet with effective fat-burning workouts. In combination with these strategies, perform the following five exercises at least twice a week to build strength and develop definition in the abdominal muscles.

  1. Ball or floor crunches
  2. Vertical leg crunches
  3. Reverse crunches or bottoms up
  4. Bicycle crunches (air bike)
  5. Planks

Tip: For more ideas, check out Bodybuilding.com, a valuable online resource that offers free demos for over 300 exercises, including more than three dozen that solely target the abs. 

I generally recommend performing at least 2-3 sets of 25-50 repetitions of the exercises I’ve mentioned here. These can be performed back-to-back and even in combination with other upper body or lower body exercises with minimal rest between the sets. But, remember, while such exercises will certainly build up your abs, they won’t do a thing for the fat that sits in front or lies beneath them.

So, for sensible eating strategies and fat-burning exercise tips, be sure to check out “Belly Fat: Five Ways to Lose the Pooch” and get the abs you deserve!