Ab Exercises: How To Get Great Abs

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - 9:06am

By Adam Kessler, CSCS

Studies prove that an excess of body fat around the abdominal region increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and a plethora of other life-threatening ailments. With so many good reasons to want flatter abs, I might safely assume that this is the reason so many new clients come to me asking for help in this area. Wrong! Many people desire a flatter stomach, but reducing their chances of diabetes not on their mind. Instead, they want to look good! So, let’s talk about how to get sexy abs that will be the envy of everyone at the pool.

A common myth about flat abs

First, let’s dispel one of the biggest myths about how to achieve ripped abs: If you do a million ab exercises, you will have a flat stomach in no time. Obviously, practicing ab strengthening exercises helps; however, going overboard on abdominal exercises doesn’t do any good. It’s a simple fact that overtaxing your muscles doesn’t achieve results any faster than if you practice a balanced, quality exercise routine.

Tips for getting great abs

Achieving perfect abs may seem like an insurmountable task, but this goal can be accomplished by following some simple steps. Here are some tips about getting a flatter stomach:

Top 3 Diet Plans (based on Diet Channel visitor activity):

Sonoma Diet - "Get to eat great food and even enjoy a glass of wine." Learn More...

Jillian Michaels - "Jillian guides you through the diet and exercise changes you know you need to make." Learn More...

South Beach Diet - "This hugely popular diet promises diligent followers an initial weight loss of 8-13 pounds in the first two weeks." Learn More...

1.   Spot reducing doesn’t work - you need to focus on the whole body

Unfortunately, spot reducing (target-burning body fat in one area only) is impossible, no matter what anyone tells you. To burn fat on your stomach, you must burn fat from your whole body, which means you must do cardiovascular exercises. Any type of aerobic activity that gets your heart rate beating at a moderate intensity will suffice. If you do aerobic exercises five days a week for 30 minutes at a time, your body will start using extra fat for energy. Eventually, your body fat percentage will reduce, and you will have less stomach fat.

2.   Don’t work your abs every day - they need rest too

Now that the body fat is disappearing, you need to strengthen the abdominal muscles so the area will be firm and flat. Abdominal muscles need to be treated like every other muscle group. This means you can’t work them everyday, despite popular opinion. After you work them out, they need to rest a day or two to recover. Focus on quality (not quantity). Pick two of your favorite ab exercises and do three or four sets with approximately 15-20 repetitions in each set. Some of my favorite exercises are the abdominal crunch, the reverse crunch, touching your opposite elbow to opposite knee (to hit your obliques or the sides), and toe reaches (sticking your legs straight up in the air while you lie on your back and reaching up to touch your toes).For more ab exercises, see The Secret to 6 Pack Abs or Six-Pack Abs: 4 Exercises for a Fabulous Core.

3.   Follow a balanced, reduced-calorie diet to help produce good abs

Finally, the big key to all of this is your diet. Chances are that a lack of exercise and a sloppy diet has contributed to your excess body fat in the first place. Because you are working hard to get rid of your fat and shape your stomach, you must also be vigilant about your diet, which can sabotage all your efforts if you’re not careful. Consume a low-fat/low-calorie diet with a good balance of proteins and carbohydrates. Avoid all processed foods-such as white breads, white pastas, and white rice-and replace them with 100% whole wheat products, fresh fruits and vegetables. When eating meat, select lean or low-fat cuts. Also, try to eat frequently throughout the day (five or six times is ideal). For low-fat/low-calorie diet advice, try eDiets Weight Loss Plan .

Ripped abs require discipline

By working hard, you can have a flatter stomach, but you must be disciplined. A lot of my female clients say they want a stomach like Janet Jackson. Obviously, Ms. Jackson has had her trials with weight fluctuations, but she has proven that when you combine hard work with a proper diet and exercise, you will get great results! Keep these tips in mind, be patient, and go out there and make everyone envious of your sexy, ripped abs!