Abs

10 Home Fitness Products Worth Checking Out

These days everyone is looking to get in shape and lose a few pounds. The following is a list of home workout tools that are actually worth checking out:

Exercise Balls: Exercise balls are a great tool to use to develop your ever-important core strength. They can be used for abdominal training, weight training, flexibility, yoga, and pilates exercises. Check out the Professional 75cm Anti-Burst Ball or choose from a variety of exercise balls.

Exercise Ball Chair - If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk using a computer, consider buying an exercise ball chair. Be realistic. The human body was not designed to sit for 10 hours a day. Even people using the best ergonomic desk chairs are prone to poor posture. Exercise ball chairs force your body to make small adjustments all day, slowly strengthening your postural muscles, gluteals, abdominals, and leg muscles. We suggest checking out the FitBALL Chair or choose from a variety of exercise ball chairs.

Pilates Magic Circle - Also known as exercise rings or fitness circles, the Pilates Magic Circle is a 13 inch flexible ring made of rubber or metal with small pads on either side. This device is a dream come true for people who need to stretch and gain flexibility.  Using the tool to provide resistance, users can gain both strength and flexibility. A great tool for those who need daily stretching to alleviate back pain. Worth every penny. See other exercise rings.

Yoga Mat - For use at yoga class or at home, yoga mats are ideal for those who attend regular yoga classes and well... just don't want to roll around on a community mat used by who knows how many people. At home, yoga mats are ideal to keep your sweat off the carpet. And any regular yoga practitioner can attest to the value in not rolling around on cold hard wood floors or scratchy carpets. Shop for yoga mats.

Ab Machines - Let's be honest, six-pack abs are not acquired simply by doing abdominal work. They are the result of ab exercises, a healthy, low fat diet, and good genetic luck. That said, strengthening your core muscles is always a good thing. If you like working with machines and have the space at home, an ab machine can be an ideal home workout tool. Tip: Try doing 20 reps on the ab machine during commercial breaks while watching TV. If you want a high quality machine, check out the Multisports Fitness Pro ROM Series Ab and Back Exercise Machine or choose from a large selection of ab machines of various quality and prices.

Treadmills - At the Diet Channel we are big fans of treadmills for cardiovascular workouts.  They provide a soft landing for your joints, you can control the speed and elevation, you can walk/run in any weather, and you can watch Oprah while you get in your 60 minute walk. The Spirit Fold-Up Treadmill is one worth checking out or you can find a gaggle of treadmill options, some expensive, some not.

Wrist Weights - If used properly, wrist and ankle weights can be a great way to build strength. It's advised to seek out the advice of a professional fitness trainer on the proper ways to use these so that you avoid injury. In the meantime, check out the Spri Ankle & Wrist Weights.

Exercise Bikes - Another favorite at the Diet Channel, stationary bikes come in many forms and are a great tool for cardio workouts and building leg strength.  More importantly, bikes are a low impact exercise and therefore easier on the joints. Our suggestion is the Schwinn Recumbent Bike but their are many options from which to choose.

StairMaster - For those people really looking to get in shape, the StairMaster is an old friend.  Good for cardio and building leg strength. There are many different stair climbing machines from which to choose so finding one to fit your needs and budget should not be hard.

Ab Machines on Infomercials: As Seen on TV

Friday, October 19, 2007 - 4:55pm

By Erica Lesperance, RD, LD

If you stay up late enough watching television, you are bound to see countless offers you "can't afford to pass up" on products such as the perfect all-purpose food chopper, lotions that eliminate cellulite, and of course, abdominal machines that promise you that 6-pack you've always dreamed of but never before could attain. Celebrities and infomercial stars with rock-hard abs swear that they achieved fitness through one ab machine or another. Could this be true? How do you know if you should call that toll-free number? The Diet Channel condenses the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Consumer Reports magazine's investigation of the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of some of the most popular ab machines sold on television today.

Body Dome

The Body Dome looks like an inflatable exercise ball cut in half with a rubber base and elastic cords attached for strength training. For $140, the makers of the Body Dome claim that you will look great naked and burn off as much as a pound a day by using the dome for aerobic exercise, strength training, and ab conditioning. While weight loss can be achieved through using the Body Dome's cardio video, the pound per day claim is, at best, highly unrealistic and, at worst, a complete lie. Weight loss can be achieved through many forms of aerobic activity, and is not dependent on the use of the Body Dome. As for ab conditioning, Consumer Reports finds the Body Dome "provides balance training and targets core trunk muscles" like an exercise ball, but a ball is cheaper. Bottom line: Don't waste your money.

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...

Ab Swing

For $115, the makers of the Ab Swing claim that this contraption, a padded bench that rocks on a metal base, will sculpt your lower abs, upper abs, and obliques while you "sit and swing" for less than 5 minutes a day. However, a San Diego study that tested the Ab Swing, along with five other home abdominal machines, found that this machine was "significantly less effective than a crunch at eliciting upper and lower rectus abdominis activity." Bottom line: Do crunches - they're free and more effective.

Smart Abs

For $93, you can purchase Smart Abs, which is a padded frame that you hold in your lap. You rock forward into the resistance. The creators of Smart Abs claim that regular crunches do not work your abs or obliques because you lift 1/3 of your body weight using unnecessary muscles. While it is true that the standard crunch is not the most effective abdominal strengthening exercise, it is more effective than Smart Abs. Due to your upright position when performing the Smart Abs exercise, you lose the benefits of lifting your own upper body. Nonetheless, the makers of Smart Abs claim you'll flatten your stomach, sculpt your waistline, eliminate love handles, and lose 10 pounds and 2 inches in 2 weeks. Not only is this an ineffective way to strengthen your abdominal muscles, it is highly unlikely for major weight loss to occur without significant aerobic activity and a healthy diet. No matter what the exercise or machine, 2 minutes per day is not enough to produce the type of results the makers of this machine are claiming. Bottom line: Is this a joke?

AB-DOer

The Ab-Doer is one of the most recent infomercial crazes evaluated by ACE. It looks like a chair with a padded seat and shoulder-height handlebars. To use the AB-Doer, you grip the handlebars and rotate the torso in various directions at various speeds to strengthen muscles and elevate heart rate. The claim is that you aerobically burn fat at the same time you flatten your stomach in just minutes a day. However, a study out of California State University, Northridge, found that over all, the AB-Doer provides a relatively low-intensity workout that burns approximately 4 to 5 calories per minute. By comparison, walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour (which is the equivalent of a light-to-moderate walk) burns approximately 5.3 calories per minute. In terms of strengthening muscle, the study found AB-Doer also falls short in this area, as the exercises elicited less activity than most traditional abdominal exercises. Bottom line: Save your $109.

Other infomercial ab machines

Similar stories exist for all the infomercial abdominal exercise machines, including the Ab Rocker, Torso Track, Ab Roller, Ab Works, and ABSculptor. According to Richard Cotton, the editor of ACE Fitness Matters, "These devices provide no apparent benefit or detriment when compared to a properly performed crunch." However," Cotton says, "if any of these devices serves to motivate an individual to begin and continue an exercise program, then they would seem to have a benefit." Just be aware that none of them live up to their outrageous claims.

Guaranteed toned abs

So what should you do to tone your abs and make them visible? Lose any excess fat around your midsection so your abdominal muscles show. Working your abs will not burn fat in that area. Rather, you must step up the aerobic exercise and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, so you burn off more calories than you take in. Find a few abdominal exercises that you can commit to doing several times per week. Whether or not you use an ab machine, include some exercises that have been proven most effective. According to the San Diego State University/ACE Abdominal Study , the top 4 exercises for overall strengthening of your abs are the bicycle maneuver, the captain's chair, crunches on a fitness ball, and reverse crunches.

The money you would have spent on an expensive ab machine might be put to better use on a $30 fitness ball and a session with a personal trainer to help you perfect your form and make the most of your workout.

For more information on abs exercises see the following article from TheDietChannel: Ab Exercises: General Info and Ab Exercises: How to Get Great Abs.

  1. Sternlicht, E., Rugg, S., Bernstein, M.D., & Armstrong, S.D. (2005). Electromyographical analysis and comparison of selected abdominal training devices with a traditional crunch. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19, 157-16.
  2. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health-fitness/exercise-wellness/infomercial-exercise-devices-104/ratings/abdominal-devices/index.htm
  3. Beim, G.M., J.L. Giraldo, D.M. Pincivero, M.J. Borror, and F.H. Fu. Abdominal strengthening exercises: A comparative study. J. Sports Rehabil. 6:11-20. 1997.
  4. Tsai, P. An electromyographical comparison of the AB-DOer II and device-free exercises. Master's thesis, California State University, Northridge, 2001.

Core Exercises - No Fad Exercises

Friday, September 14, 2007 - 11:07am

By Michele Silence, MA

The core of your body - your back and abdominals - is where you get strength and power to do almost all the activities you do during the day. Whether it is walking, exercising, shopping, or working, your core muscles are important in keeping the rest of your body mobile. Keep your center strong by doing some of these effective core exercises. Hold each position as long as you are able to and gradually improve from there.

1. Plank

To Do: Prop your body up on it's knees and elbows. Gradually work your way into holding from your elbows and feet.

2. Side plank

To Do: Keeping both legs straight and feet together, lift your body onto your elbow sideways and hold. Keep your weight lifted so as to not sink down into the shoulder. Repeat other side.

3. Bridge

To Do: Lie on back with feet propped up on a wall or chair. Lift rear off the floor creating a straight line from foot to hip. Hold.

4. Back extensions

To Do: Lie face down on the floor with hands clasped behind the head. Lift shoulders off the floor and return back to start position. Repeat until fatigued.

5. Abdominal twists

To Do: Lie on your back on the floor. Lift both legs into the air while keeping the knees and feet together. With shoulders on the floor, let the legs slowly fall to one side. Lift, return to starting position and turn to the other side. Make this easier by bending the knees, or more difficult by keeping both legs straight.

6. Arm/Leg extensions

To Do: From hands and knees position, extend one arm straight out in front of you and hold. Repeat other arm. Do the same with each leg, extended out in back. Then, try extending an arm with the opposite leg. Hold and repeat the other side.

Taking care of your core muscles is vital to lifelong strength, mobility and posture. Work them in some way each day to keep your entire body strong and fit for day to day activity.

For more information on exercising your core muscles see the following article from TheDietChannel: 3 Core Muscle Exercises that Build Balance and Stability.

The Secret to 6-Pack Abs

Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 2:42pm

By Michele Silence, MA

Who wouldn't want glorious, ripped, rock-hard abs featured on those infamous late-night infomercials? Is it really possible to get fabulous looking abs, even after childbirth? How about after a ten- to fifteen-year stint as a chip-eating, remote control junkie/couch potato? The answer is "yes," but it will not come easy as the infomercials would have you believe. If you are serious, you absolutely can do it. It takes determination and the right program though. Do both and you will have the abs you have always envied. Here is how:

Use the most effective exercises to target all the areas in the abdominal area. Several have been shown to work better than others. Here are the top four:

1. Crunches on a ball

To Do: Lie back on an exercise ball keeping your knees bent and hips level with the knees. Slowly lift the upper body and then return to starting position. Place hands behind head for more difficulty.

Safety Note: Keep hips lifted and avoid arching back upon release each time.

2. Alternating leg extension with upper body rotation

To Do: Lie on the floor with legs in the air. Extend one leg straight in front while the other knee comes to the chest, connecting with the opposing elbow. Repeat the other side.

Safety Note: Keep legs high in the air instead of close to the floor, which will strain the lower back.

3. Reverse crunches

To Do: Lie on floor with arms to side. Lift knees off the floor, at a right angle from the ground. Contract abdominal muscles by pulling in so that hips lift slightly from the floor. Release and repeat.

Safety Note: Avoid swinging the hips and bringing the feet back to the floor each time.

4. Captain's chair

(This exercise requires gym equipment--focus on previous 3 exercises if you do not have access to this.)

To Do: Hold your body up on the chair. Bring legs up so that knees pull in to the chest. Release each time.

Safety Note: Avoid swinging the legs; use slow and controlled movements.

The importance of aerobic exercise and a healthy diet

Once you are doing the above properly and regularly, you will need to incorporate regular aerobic activity into your workouts. Burning fat through aerobic exercise will help you see those well defined abs. Otherwise, they stay hidden from view even though they may indeed be hard and ripped underneath the fat.

After you have got the right exercise selections and do plenty of aerobic exercise, there is one more thing that you absolutely need to do to have the abs of your dreams. Watch what you eat. Plain and simple--if you want to see your abs and not fat on top of them, do not eat excess fat. Keep your diet low-fat and moderate in calories. When you cut the fat from your entire body, your abs will come shining through. This is usually the last thing to change but the most important one for success.

Start today and you can have the abs you want. Just stay focused, take part in a balanced fitness workout, and eat a healthy, low-fat diet. Once you see that "package" appear, you will be motivated to keep it.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.

Expert Q&A

Ab exercises: Which exercise gets the best results?

What’s the single best exercise to tone my tummy?

-Nichol from Indiana

To attain fabulous abs, consistency counts. Try doing a five-minute abdominal routine daily. A study conducted by Peter Francis, Ph.D., and Jennifer Davis, M.A., at the San Diego State University Biomechanics Lab determined the most effective abdominal exercises. First on the list was the bicycle maneuver, followed closely by the second ranked, captain’s chair. Crunches on an exercise ball ranked third overall.

Don’t be fooled by the host of infomercial products to tone your midsection. The Ab Roller was proven to be virtually no more effective than the traditional crunch while the AB Rocker was shown to be up to 80% less effective. Why spend $150 on a piece of exercise equipment that does less to work your abs than a crunch? These results are consistent with the findings of ACE’s 1997 study of popular ab exercise products.

It’s essential to develop strong abs in order to have good posture, alleviate low back pain, and for overall health.

For more information on ab exercises see the following articles from TheDietChannel: Ab Exercises: General Info and The Secret to 6-Pack Abs

Cindy Guirino, RD/LD, CDE, CNSD, ACE PT
Contributing Expert

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Expert Q&A

Abdominal rotation exercise tips

I see people at the gym twisting and turning on machines and with their trainers. How should I train abdominal rotation?

The human body is designed to move in three dimensions. This means our movements don’t just happen in a straight, single line. Our abdominal girdle doesn’t just need to crunch up—it needs to turn, and bend, and stabilize the spine. Thus, to be functional and strong, we should train our midsection for real life demands, including rotation.

Rotation should come from the hips and not the waist

There are two things to keep in mind when training torso rotation with resistance. The first is that ideally rotation should not come from the waist; it should start in the hips. The human spine isn’t well constructed to accommodate a lot of powerful twisting in the upper body if all the load is borne by the spine itself. Spinal biomechanicist Stuart McGill found in his research that one of the worst, most dangerous machines for spinal injury was the “twist” machine, in which people sit, press against a pad, and then twist the upper body back and forth. The immobility of the lower body combined with the twisting motion creates significant shearing forces in the spine, which can lead to disc or other soft tissue damage.

In real life, the body prefers to twist as a unit, engaging shoulders, hips, and legs as much as possible. For instance, when a pitcher throws a ball, there is a windup phase followed by a throw in which the pitcher’s entire body from neck to ankles contributes. She doesn’t just throw with a flip of the arm alone. When a golfer drives the ball, he turns his entire body to follow the swing. As boxing coaches like to say, “punch from the belt” rather than with the arms only.

Rotations require stability in your midsection

The second thing is that very often, what we need in our activities is not rotation per se, but stability through rotation. What I mean by this is that we need to train the midsection not to collapse as we turn the rest of the body. Think of chopping wood. If the ribcage and pelvis are flopping all over the place, we’re not able to coordinate that downward force of the axe. However, if the body moves as one unit from shoulders to hips, we can execute a powerful stroke and slice that wood. In another example, runners have to keep the midsection stable as each leg moves forward. Otherwise, as the leg comes forward and the other goes back, the hips would rotate too much, turning the runner sideways – they’d run in circles or a wobbly line.

The best types of movements use this “whole body” idea and attempt to integrate all the moving pieces. “Wood chops” are excellent for this type of functional rotation, and they can be done downward or upwards in a diagonal motion across the body. Upward chops start with the lifter bent at the hips, arms outstretched across the body and hands at hip/thigh level on one side. The lifter swings the straight arms outward and upward in a diagonal motion, ending up overhead. If hands started at the left side, they end up overhead on the right side. As the arms move up and across, notice how your hips want to help out, and let them straighten and turn accordingly. Think of making an “X” pattern across the body with this movement.

To do a downward chop, simply think of chopping wood or swinging a sledgehammer towards a target that is on one side of you. Arms start straight and overhead on one side, and travel down diagonally to end up at the other side. As you move through the arc, bend the hips and knees naturally.

Cables or rubber tubing can provide resistance for downward chops; and cables, medicine balls, dumbbells, or weight plates can provide resistance for upward chops. Remember to use the whole body as the weight travels across the body.

For more information on exercises that aid stability in your midsection see the following article from TheDietChannel: 3 Core Muscle Exercises That Build Balance and Stability.

 

Further reading:

McGill, Stuart. Low Back Disorders: Evidence-based Prevention and Rehabilitation (2002) and Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance (2nd ed.) (2004). Both available at http://www.backfitpro.com.

 

Krista Scott-Dixon, PhD
Contributing Expert

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Expert Q&A

Sit-ups: Why aren’t they helping?

Why aren’t sit-ups helping my abs?

-Isabella from New Hampshire

First, we need to clarify what you mean by “helping”.  If you are referring to strengthening, sit-ups definitely strengthen the abdominal muscles.  As long as you are overloading the muscle (i.e. requiring the muscle to work more than it is accustomed to) and working it to fatigue, you are developing strength.  To get the best results from any exercise program, the trick is selecting the correct exercises and using the proper form

Sit-ups vs abdominal crunches

Selecting the correct exercise is connected to how an exercise works your body. For example, the basic sit-up is far less effective than an abdominal crunch.  A sit-up requires that you sit-up completely from a lying down position.  The problem with this movement is that the abdominals only work for the first half of the movement.  After that, the hip flexor muscles (located in the front crease in your legs, where they meet the pelvis) are engaged instead.  The second half of the movement is thereby a wasted effort if the aim is to strengthen the abdominals. 

The correct way to perform abdominal crunches

Once you have selected the correct exercise, you must use proper form.  The most common error when doing abdominal crunches is yanking on the neck and using more momentum than strength from the abdominal region.  To do crunches correctly, lie flat on your back with knees bent.  Place your fingertips along the side of or behind the head.  Lean your head back, with chin lifted.  Put the tongue on the roof of the mouth and lift shoulders off the floor while aiming the chin towards the ceiling.  Lower your torso back to the ground and repeat. 

Washboard abs are a result of exercise AND diet

If you’re hoping to get washboard abs, you should know that you’re not going to get them by merely doing abdominal work.  A ripped 6-pack comes from more than developing the muscles.  Mainly, it comes from what you are eating.  If you want to see those strong muscles, you have to eat accordingly.  Body fat is what prevents you from seeing defined grooves on your stomach.  If you want to see them, watch what eat in addition to doing regular ab strengthening work.

For more information on abdominal exercises see the following article from TheDietChannel: Ab Exercises: General Info.

Michele Silence, MA
Contributing Expert

Have a question for our Experts? Send it in!

Expert Q&A

Ab exercises: Can resistance training make your abs bulky?

Is it true that adding resistance to abdominal training will make my abs bulky?

What exactly are your 'abs'?

To answer this question, let’s start with a short anatomy lesson. What we think of as our ‘abs’ is actually a thin sheet of muscle known as the rectus abdominis. The top of the sheet attaches to the breastbone; the bottom of the sheet attaches to the pubic bone. The rectus abdominis is separated down the middle by the linea alba, and by attachments of connective tissue running crosswise, which provide the ‘cuts’ that make up a ‘six-pack.’ Think about those bumps on underwear models’ bellies—they aren’t a bunch of little abdominal muscles, they’re connective tissue attachments that act like ropes pinning down a tent. These ‘ropes’ help provide the characteristic ridges and valleys of the muscle’s shape. 

You middle is not just muscle - but also internal organs and body fat

The rectus abdominis isn’t the only muscle on the midsection. It’s layered with other muscles such as the internal and external obliques, and the transversus abdominis. The rectus itself is quite thin; it is approximately as thick as the average magazine. Many people are convinced that midsection girth can be attributed to big ab muscles. In fact, most of the midsection is composed of either internal organs or body fat. If you look at a torso in cross-section, you’ll see that the abdominal girdle is just a thin ring of muscle surrounding a body cavity full of other squashy stuff, and that these thin muscles themselves are encircled by what is in the average North American a substantial layer of fat. 

The fat around your middle: is it visceral or subcutaneous?

Speaking of fat, it’s worth mentioning that there are two types in the midsection: visceral fat (which cushions the internal organs) and subcutaneous fat (which sits under the skin—it’s the stuff you can pinch if you grab a hunk of tummy). Most men put on more fat around their waists (known as the ‘apple' shape’), while the majority of women tend to put on more fat around their lower bodies (known as the ‘pear shape’). As both sexes grow older, they both put on more fat around their internal organs. 

Often bulky waistlines are due to fat, not muscle

In other words, most of the time what makes waistlines bulky isn’t muscle, it’s fat. You could train your abs with Herculean effort and the ability of those muscles to get larger would still be dwarfed by the ability of the body to store fat in that area. So if you want a slim waist, go ahead and add some weight to those crunches…and remove that weight from your fork.

Krista Scott-Dixon, PhD
Contributing Expert

Have a question for our Experts? Send it in!

Six-Pack Abs: 4 Exercises For A Fabulous Core

Monday, December 18, 2006 - 3:47pm

By Michele Silence, MA

If you’re looking for the most effective abdominal exercises for 6-pack abs take a look here. These four will give you a great core.

Exercise #1: Abdominal crunch

The basic old standby. Lie on the ground or on an exercise ball. With hands placed lightly to the sides of the head, lean head back as if looking towards the ceiling. Place tongue on the roof of the mouth and lift chin towards ceiling. Return to starting position and repeat.

Tip: Think less about how high you can lift and more about keeping the head back and chin up.

Exercise #2: Alternating leg extension

Lying on your back take both knees into the air. Extend one leg out in front of the body while keeping the other knee pulled in. At the same time, cross the opposite shoulder towards the bent knee aiming to touch it. Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Go slow. Rotate the upper body as far as possible toward the leg and then all the way back down to the floor.

Exercise #3: Side crunch

Lying on your side with knees bent, place a weight on the top shoulder. Place bottom arm directly in front of the body for balance. Lift sideways towards hip and lower. Repeat on the other side.

Tip: Avoid placing body weight on the arm that is on the floor. Use the waist to lift and depend on the bottom arm to provide balance only.

Exercise #4: Reverse crunch

Lift hips off the floor while pulling in the abdominal region. Return to floor.

Tip: Lift slowly and avoid swinging the hips. Stop at the top and bottom of the movement each time to make sure you aren’t using momentum.

Abdominal exercises - how many and how often?

Do several sets of 12. If you aren’t tiring the muscle by then, add resistance (place a weight on the body part that is lifting). Abdominals can be worked every day, unlike other muscle groups that do best with a day off in between. Remember to cut the fat in your diet and eat nutritiously though. No amount of abdominal exercises will give you the abs you desire if you don’t watch your diet. More than any other part of your body, your abs reveal how healthy your eating habits are.

Ab Exercises: General Info

Few bodybuilders would argue against the importance of abdominal exercises in order to look good. But ab exercises are also important to enabling a person to feel good and perform well. Your body’s core, the area around your trunk and pelvis, is related to every physical action you perform. It is also the location of your center of gravity. By doing upper and lower ab exercises and having strong abdominal muscles, you also strengthen the support system for the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, and hips. This provides increased protection for people with lower back problems and injuries. Strengthened ab muscles also allow for greater controlled movement, and a more stable center of gravity. While this is important to increasing performance and guarding against injury in any athletic endeavor, it is also important for nearly any physical activity, including sitting. Strong ab muscles help you to sit properly without slouching; this supports the lower back and is important for people sitting at a desk for long hours.

The frequency of abdominal exercises

Ab exercises should be done at least three times a week. Select exercises that work all of your core muscles simultaneously. Rather than concentrating on the number of repetitions, your goal should be to exercise with proper form. Make sure to breathe, with full inhalations and exhalations, throughout each movement.

You can even perform abdominal exercises whilst at home

There are numerous ab exercises that you can perform in your home, even while watching television. The simplest is the regular sit-up, or ab crunch, that everyone knows how to do. In this exercise, lay with your back on the floor, and bend your knees to allow your feet to lay flat on the floor; your arms can be crossed in front of your chest, or to add more resistance and to support the neck, they can be locked behind your neck or the back of the head. Using your ab muscles, slowly lift your shoulder blades off the mat. After completing a full slow exhalation, slowly return your back down to the floor. Do not use your arms to pull upwards on your head or neck. Your abs should do the work, and your hands are only there to support your neck muscles. Try this exercise on a stability ball in order to engage more of your core muscles and create an additional challenge. Using a stability ball for ab exercises is an excellent way to strengthen your core, as well as to add variety in doing regular ab exercises like the plank. If you tire of doing isolated ab exercises, try yoga or Pilates, which are both great for strengthening your ab and core muscles.