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.