Three hot exercises
By Raphael Calzadilla
Get ready to plop down on your living room floor for a belly busting ab workout.
It won’t last longer than 12 minutes because endless amounts of abdominal exercises are simply not necessary. However, it will be a tough 12 minutes.
Before we get to the actual workout, let’s get something straight. You will not achieve great looking abs unless you reduce body fat and adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Nutrition -- This is one of the most important components to achieving a flat stomach. You’ll need to be in a slight caloric deficit (less than maintenance) and you’ll need to control blood sugar levels. This is the most efficient and healthiest way to lose body fat. eDiets has over 21 meal plans to choose from, so finding the most enjoyable program won’t be hard. In fact, we’ll help you to choose the best plan for your lifestyle.
2. Cardiovascular Exercise -- Perform three to four days per week of cardiovascular exercise for approximately 25-30 minutes. Find an activity that’s fun such as aerobic video tapes, belly dancing classes, walking with a friend etc.
3. Weight Training -- Just two to three workout sessions lasting no more than 30-40 minutes will do the trick. And, once you start losing fat you’ll see some lean and defined muscles just like the new and improved Oprah.
4. Consistency -- You’ll need to be consistent most of the time. I’m not suggesting perfection and a life of constant denial, but let’s face it, if you want to make changes you have to make some sacrifices.
Now, plop on that floor and let’s work your abs. Once your body fat begins to reduce, you’ll start to notice a tight set of abdominals forming from the result of this program.
The first thing I want you to do is warm-up for 5 minutes by walking, dancing or playing with your kids. Then I want you to psychologically prepare yourself for a non-stop ab workout that will have you huffing and puffing.
The training method we’ll be using is referred to as “timed sets”. You are to perform each exercise below for as many repetitions as possible. Once you cannot complete another rep go immediately to the next exercise and continue the cycle. There is no waiting between sets. Don’t forget to time your workout and please -- no more than 12 minutes! Perform the workout on three alternate days per week and count the total number of reps performed during the workout (not for each exercise individually).
In the second week, try to add 6 more total reps within the 12 minute time frame. In week 3, add an additional 8 reps. For example, in week one if you perform 50 total reps for all the exercises in 12 minutes, then the following week the goal will be 56 reps. In week 3, the goal is 64 reps.
Let’s get started.
1. Double Crunch
I like the double crunch because if performed correctly, you can isolate the lower and upper region of the abdominals. Please note, contrary to popular belief, we do not have separate upper and lower abs.
Lie on the floor face up.
Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45 degree angle with both feet on the floor.
Your back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor.
Place both hands behind your head.
Contracting your abdominals, raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another.
Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor.
Exhale while raising up.
Inhale while returning to the starting position.
2. Reverse Ab Curl
This exercise isolates the lower region of the abs. Don’t worry if you can’t perform a lot of them. Just keep practicing.
Lie on the floor with your back relaxed and your hands on the floor by your hips.
Keep the upper back pressed into the floor throughout the exercise.
Contracting your abs, raise your butt and gently roll your hips off the floor stopping when you feel a full contraction of the abdominals and can no longer lift your hips.
Slowly return to the starting position.
Exhale while lifting your hips.
Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Keep your eyes on the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck.
Your hands should not be used to lift the head or assist in the movement.
3. Vertical Scissors
Time to get off the floor!
Sit on a chair or bench with your legs extended in front of you.
Your hands should be under your glutes for balance.
Contracting your abdominals, lift your right leg as you lower your left leg.
Reverse the positions of your legs by lowering your right leg and raising your left leg, mimicking a scissor.
Breathe rhythmically throughout the exercise.
Squeeze your glutes and hip muscles as you switch legs, but make sure to focus on contracting your abs (this is not a leg exercise).
4. BONUS: Abdominal Vacuum
This exercise is based on time and not reps. The Transverus Abdominis muscle is muscle that holds your abs tight and flat. It’s a thin sheet of muscle running along the sides of the abs and joins connective tissue behind it and is your body’s natural corset. When you suck your stomach in, you have just used your Transversus. This is the only muscle that can help pull the stomach inward.
Position yourself on the floor on all fours. Keep your back flat and maintain this position throughout the exercise.
Start by exhaling absolutely every bit of air from your lungs. Then, relax your abdomen and let it hang like a loose sling, but don't increase the arch in your lower back. Next, pull the navel in as if I just told you to suck in your stomach as tight as possible.
Continue to breathe lightly through your nostrils, but make sure you’re pulling your navel in as tight as you can. Hold the contraction for 40 seconds but make sure it’s very tight. In time, you’ll notice the abdominal area pulled in and looking flatter. This exercise provides benefit with no repetitious movement.
Immediately return to the first exercise and repeat the program until 12 minutes is up.
Maintain excellent form, work hard, pace yourself and don’t forget about the rest of the key ingredients to the formula. Join eDiets and let us do all the work for you. We’ll structure a comprehensive diet and fitness solution that has you on your way to a great set of abs.
As always, check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program.
A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and 2005 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.
With thanks to ediets.com, where this piece first appeared.
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