Q. Glen, Are There Any Effective Ab Exercises?
A. Yes Are you an ab-oholic?
Do you constantly fret over a flatter stomach? Are you obsessed with achieving a six-pack? Maybe you spend countless hours doing crunches, only to see no results whatsoever. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about...
You’re gonna have to face it: You’re addicted to abs!
Don’t worry. That’s not a bad thing. Unless you’re wasting precious time on ineffective exercises when you could actually be getting more (results) for less (time). You heard it right. For those of you doing hundreds of sit-ups a day, you’re probably spending a lot of time doing exercises the wrong way.More than half my clients come to me and say they’re doing 300 sit-ups and 100 bicycle kicks a day and nothing is happening, "They feel a little is good, so more must be better. In the process they abandon good form and the proper way of doing the exercise.
"My whole change for these people is to inform them of what really works and dispel the myths."
The first misconception Glen puts to rest is the notion that you can spot reduce. FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. It takes more than ab exercises to tighten that tummy. A firmer physique requires a one-two punch of cardio exercise and strength training. And don't forget a healthy diet, as well. Here is Glen’s ultimate workout checklist.
- CARDIO TRAINING: three to five times a week, exercise in your target heart rate zone with some form of sustained aerobic activity (i.e. walking, jogging, swimming) for 20 to 30 minutes or more
- STRENGTH TRAINING: two to four times a week, perform anywhere from eight to 12 sets of properly performed progressive resistance movements (i.e. weight training, nautilus, pushups) that works the entire body
- FLEXIBILITY TRAINING: Perform at least five to 15 minutes of stretching exercises (i.e. simple stretches, yoga) at the end of every workout
“Save yourself time, energy and possible injury... lose the obsession with things you can do nothing about," he says. "Focus on things you can change. Eat right and exercise, but don’t obsess about either.”
One thing you can do to improve the appearance of your midsection is to practice better posture. Poor posture often gives people the potbellied look. To improve your posture: keep your head balanced on your neck, not leaning. Shoulders should be relaxed and down, rolled back. Make sure abdominals are contracted, tailbone pointed to the floor. Knees are kept soft, not locked. Ears, shoulders, ribs, hips, knees, ankles should all stay vertically aligned.
"Within reason, if you work on your posture and you do the cardio and strength-training exercises, it is possible to affect the stomach and flatten it," Glen says. "Not everybody will have a super flat stomach, but it is possible to improve your stomach."
Glen recommends a simple strength-training regimen that can be done in a matter of minutes. Perform two sets of 20 for each exercise. Rest one minute between sets. Do this routine two to three times a week.
Lie on your back on a mat or padded carpet with your knees partially bent, feet flat on the floor, arms folded across your chest (least intense). Be sure the feet are not too near your buttocks. Exhale as you press the lower back into the floor and begin to raise your head, shoulders and chest off the floor in one unit, concentrating on bringing the ribs towards the hips. Pause briefly as you feel your abdominal muscles contract. The movement need only be a few inches. Inhale and slowly curl back down, trying not to let your head and shoulders touch the floor, maintaining tension in the abdominal muscles for the entire set. Repeat to muscle fatigue.
Be sure to keep the knees only partially bent with the heels at least one foot from your butt. This engages the oblique muscles as well as the rectus abdominus. To increase intensity, lengthen the pause when the abs are flexed to two seconds, or place your hands behind your head (as in the bicycle kick). Extend the arms overhead to maximize intensity levels.
Goal: two sets of 20 to 30 repetitions
Lie on your back on a mat or padded carpet with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press the lower back into the floor, engaging the abdominal muscles, as you put both hands behind your head (don't pull on the head). Bring the right elbow over to the left knee, and then bring the left elbow over to the right knee in a twisting, bicycle pedal motion. Continue to breathe naturally. Alternate opposite elbow to opposite knee with hands interlaced behind the head in a slow and controlled manner, and to muscle fatigue, with full extension of each leg on every repetition.
Be sure to breathe naturally and not hold your breath at any time during this exercise. Full extension of the legs will increase intensity (as shown), as will performing the motion very slowly. Keep the knees bent throughout the movement, while you tap the feet to the floor (instead of extending the leg straight out), to decrease intensity.
Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !
Yours in good health