If there’s one physical trait that most gym goers desire, it’s firm, toned abdominal muscles. Unfortunately, having washboard abs is not easy, and there are many common misconceptions about how to get a tight midsection. Here are three secrets that can help you achieve the six-pack of your dreams.
1. Quit the Crunches
Crunches might seem like a classic move, but they are actually one of the least beneficial ab exercises you can perform. Studies done by the Biomechanics Laboratory at San Diego State revealed that the crunch did not rank among the top 10 abdominal exercises in terms of muscle building effectiveness, and to make matters worse, the crunch can cause a host of back problems. Because crunches involve continuously bending and extending your spinal cord, extreme strain is placed on your lower back, the part of your back that is most susceptible to injury. Excessive crunches can lead to nerve damage, a disc herniation, or a disc bulge.
So what should you do instead? Try something like the Swiss Ball Rollout, which not only builds lower back muscle to support your spine, but also works your upper and lower abs 25% more efficiently than the crunch. To see an example of the Swiss Ball Rollout, check out this YouTube video.
2. Rest and Relax
Chances are that if you want a six-pack, you want it as soon as possible. To minimize the time it will take you to get those ripped, head-turning abs, you should work them hard everyday, right? Wrong. In a Men’s Health article, celebrity trainer Jordan Yuam, who has sculpted some of the fittest bodies in Hollywood (one of his clients is Taylor Lautner of Twilight), explained that the abs should really only be worked three days a week. All muscles on the body need rest in order to grow and develop, so when people make the common mistake of hitting their abs every day when they go to the gym, their abdominal muscles become overworked and do not have adequate time to recover. You wouldn’t work your biceps every day — don’t treat your abs any differently!
According to Yuam, 90% of getting your abs to show is proper nutrition. This means that most of the work you do on your abs will not be in the gym — it will be in the kitchen. In order to have a lean stomach, you must have a low body fat percentage. Often, when people want to lose fat, they try skipping meals. However, this does more harm than good. When you skip meals you get hungry, and the body starts to hold onto fat cells because it believes that you are starving. So to have a low percentage of body fat, it’s actually better to eat more frequently. To keep your metabolism busy and high, you should aim to eat a small- to medium-sized meal every two to three hours, which works out to roughly four to six meals a day. Men’s Fitness has a great example of what a typical day of eating should look like.
By Gabe Sansone
Photo Source: health.howstuffworks.com