Building Abdominal Muscles
Everyone wants great abdominal muscles, but very few people actually achieve them. This is too bad because it really isn't all that difficult if you know what to do.
How to Get Great Abs
One helpful tip would be to engage in a detox cleansing. We are bombarded by herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins in the food we eat and the water we drink. This is why it is beneficial to try to eat organic foods whenever possible and to install a water filter or use a water filter pitcher for your drinking water. By detoxifying your body you will have more energy and your liver will run more efficiently to help you burn more fat.
You'll often hear people say that abs are made in the kitchen. People say this because in order for your abs to show, your body fat percentage must be relatively low. Of course just being skinny won't give you great abs. You need some abdominal muscle there too. This is where exercise comes in.
Where most people go wrong in building their ab muscles is that they don't work at it on a regular basis. In order to build strong abs, and especially to build six pack abs, you need to work on building your abdominal muscles on a regular and continual basis and keep your body fat percentage low. There are many ways to work your abdominal muscles. You can perform crunches or do other exercises or if you prefer, you can use an ab machine.
Keep in mind that working the abdominal muscles is no different than working any other muscle group of the body. If you want to build muscle in your abdominal area, then you must exercise your ab muscles.
Muscles increase in size by responding to an increased demand on them. So, if you perform a bunch of ab exercises then your abdominal muscles will respond to the increased demand by becoming stronger.
While you are actually performing the ab exercises your abdominal muscles become slightly damaged. It is during the resting phase that your muscles grow. For this reason you should only exercise your abdominal muscles every other day. Some ab videos will state that you should work your abs every single day. I disagree with this because building your ab muscles is no different than building other muscle. It is during the resting phase that abdominal muscles will grow. If you overwork them then you will not see great results.
To learn more about the ab muscle and ab exercises, read on!
The Ab Muscles
These are the abdominal muscles:
- rectus abdominus - the large ab muscle that covers the body's midsection
- external obliques - located on both sides of the rectus abdominus and on top of the internal obliques
- internal obliques - located directly beneath the external obliques
- serratus anterior - located above the external obliques, but below the pectoralis major (chest muscle)
Women and Strong Ab Muscles
There is a common misconception that women are unable to build strong abdominal muscles. However, this is untrue - woman can build great ab muscles just like men can if they work at it. That being said, it is probably easier for men to build larger abdominal muscles than women. In addition, men tend to have a lower body fat percentage than women do. This doesn't mean that women can't have great abs - only that is might be a little harder.
Get An Abs Video
One way to get your abs into shape that I find motivating and easy, is to work out to a video. It is sort of like having a personal trainer right there in your living room.
My personal favorite is the ab segment of the a video by Jackie Warner: Workout: One-On-One Training with Jackie. The video actually has 3 parts to it, lower body, abs, and upper body. It isn't for wimps though! I like the abs part of this video because it is only 20 minutes long, you don't need any equipment, and it works! The lower body segment of the video is also good, but I found the upper body segment to be too easy, but then I'm used to working out.
What Are the Best Abdominal Exercises to Work These Muscles?
Simple crunches work very well. Crunches mainly work out the rectus abdominus and the serratus anterior. Perform about 30-60 crunches every other day and your abs will shape up in no time. Don't bother performing situps. You are likely to strain your lower back and there really isn't any added benefit to doing situps anyway if you are already doing crunches.
Another good ab exercise for strenthening the lower abs is to perform leg lifts while lying on the floor. It is best to keep your hands with your palms facing the floor and both hands under your buttocks to protect your lower back. Crossing you ankles while performing this exercise also helps to protect the lower back and seems to make this exercise easier.
You can also perform side crunches to work out the external and internal obliques. To do these, while laying on the floor or exercise mat, cross one leg over the over with your ankle resting on your knee as shown in the photo. Then raise up and try to touch your elbow to your knee (but it isn't necessary for them to actually touch). Then repeat the crunches after crossing your leg on the other side.
Some Less Common Abdominal Exercises
Watch the You Tube video below by celebrity fitness trainer Ashley Conrad to see how to perform some other great ab exercises. Some of these use a stability ball, but many of them do not.
The next video (also by Ashley Conrad) will show you how to achieve overall fitness and to burn some extra calories to keep your bodyfat low which will help your six pack abs show. You don't need any equipment to perform these.
By becoming more fit overall, you'll burn more calories so you can eat more without gaining weight. You'll also improve your overall health.
Six Pack Abs and Your Diet
You can perform lots of crunches and other abdominal exercises, but your abdominal muscles will remain hidden if you have a lot of fat on your abdomen. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, this is where fat accumulates on their body.
In order for you, and other people, to see those great abdominal muscles that you have spent time working out, you must get rid of the excess layer of fat on your abdomen. This is probably the hardest part of getting six pack abs.
While working out your abdominal muscles does burn a few calories, you'll probably need additional aerobic exercise to help you burn off that layer of abdominal fat. Depending on your weight you may also have to decrease the number of calories you ingest, however, don't eat less than 1200-1500 calories a day.