Most of us have been there at some point! Both men and women often crave the washboard tummy or at least a flattened one! Do abdominal workouts show your commitment to working out? Is there more to it than that? Of course there is...
As the basis of pretty much all our movement, your core is essential in working out and sport.
As well as the four muscles of your tummy that wrap around your midsection (Rectus abdominis; External obliques; Internal obliques; and Transversus abdominis), your core includes muscles in your lower back; your pelvic floor; and your hips. In fact you may be surprised to find that there's more than 15 muscles in total.
Core workouts, including abdominals, are therefore essential in building a strong core and this article looks at how to get the most out of your core.
There’s an increasing recognition for aerobic abdominal core workouts as they encourage blood flow to the muscles. This means an increase in oxygen in the muscles, aiding in fat burning and an increased ability to work.
For aerobic abdominal core workouts to really be effective, you should aim to make them last for around 8 to 10 minutes. Obviously, 10 minutes of continuous core workouts would be near impossible so short rests are essential. Aim to do a set of between 30 to 40 repetitions of an abdominal exercise, followed by another set of 30 to 40 repetitions of another exercise. Rest for between 15 and 30 seconds and repeat this 4 to 5 times.
Be sure to keep your movements slow and controlled and try to fit as many different abdominal exercises in as possible. This way, your whole core will be worked, rather than just one part.
For example, crunches will work the top of your abdominals, whilst a side heel touches will work the obliques. There are countless sites on the web offering endless lists of abdominal exercises; find ones that suit you and try the aerobic workout mentioned above.
Another great way of strengthening the core is holding stress positions like the plank or ‘superman’ position. For the plank, balance on your forearms and toes, holding yourself in long plank. Hold this position for between 30 to 60 seconds and rest for around 90 seconds between sets. Build up the time you’re holding the plank as you get better.
The superman position is similar, but also works the lower back. It is essentially the plank but hold out one arm in front of you and the opposing leg behind you and balance.
Lie on your back and lift your legs into the air, but let your calves rest at 90 degrees to your thighs. Tense up and get a friend to force your legs in different directions. Your aim is to keep your starting position. Really use your core and swap after between 30 and 60 seconds.
This simple core workout is best done in a gym :
Find a dip machine, then rest your arms on the parallel bar. Keep your legs together and bring them up to 90 degrees.
After a few workouts where you know you are comfortable doing this, use a pull up bar to hang from and repeat the same exercise.
Your core is an essential part of your body and a strong core is key to playing many sports and essential in bodybuilding or getting fit. It's easier than you think to work it out, with the right exercises and not forgetting it/skipping it each session in just a few weeks you will see a noticeable difference.