Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Secret to Six Pack Abs




The secret to nice abs is no secret - you have to strengthen the many different muscles in your abdominals - I won't go into an anatomy class here, but for nicely defined abs you need to work all the different parts. In addition, you have to eat clean foods.


 Ever heard the phrase, "Abs are Made in the Kitchen" ? Well, it's true! You can do a thousand cruncehes a day and have the abdominals of an Olympian, but unless you eat foods that are natural and non-processed, then you will have a nice layer of fat to insulate your 6 pack abs.




The recipe for 6 pack abs isn't complex - follow these guidelines to get yours!




To get your 6 pack abs you need to work for 'em! There's no magic pill or workout that will get you the results you crave - just good, old fashioned work. (Unless, of course, you have the genetics of a Greek God and naturally have an amazing midsection- in that case, I am forever jealous of you.)

To earn your abs, you need to go back to basics with your workouts. I have provided a list below of the best, tried and true abdominal exercises that together work all the muscles of the abdominals for a well-rounded look.

Start by doing each of the exercises below for 10 reps, every other day. Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as overworking your belly muscles. Doing other workouts in addition to the ones I list below, such as Yoga, Pilates, Dance, Kickboxing, and Weight Training all utilize your core. Simple things like standing more and going for a jog also challenege the core in different ways that  crunch simply can't do.

Bottom Line: Round out your abdominal exercises nicely with trying different types of workouts and daily activities that will utilize your core more.












Sit Ups - Lying on your back, bend the knees and place fingertips gently behind your head and keep your elbows wide. Do not rest your head in your hands! Keeping feet flat on the floor, tighten your core and lift up with your chin leading to the ceiling. Come up to a sitting position and hold for 1 second, then slowly lower your back and head to the floor once more for one full rep.




Leg Raises - Lying on the floor with feet slightly apart and arms overhead, slowly tighten your core and lift both feet off the ground. Bring them up towards the ceiling (you can slightly bend your knees for extra support) and stop when your body is in an 'L' position. Do not lift your head off the floor. Hold for one second, then slowly lower feet back down to the ground. To make this more challenging, use your arms as well.
 







Crunches - Lying on your back, bend the knees and place fingertips gently behind your head. Do not rest your head in your hands! Keeping feet flat on the floor, tighten your core and lift up with your chin leading to the ceiling. Only lift your upper back and shoulders off the floor, firmly pushing your lower spine into the floor. This is a small movement. Hold for one second, then slowly keeping your core tight, lower your head back towards the ground.



V-Sits - Similar to leg raises, but this time both your legs AND your upper body come off the floor. Lying on the floor with feet slightly apart and arms overhead, slowly tighten your core and lift both feet off the ground. At the same time, lift your arms towards the ceiling and lift your shoulders towards the ceiling as well.  You can slightly bend your knees for extra support. This is a challenging move and will take some practice. Hold for one second before slowly lowering both your legs and head back to the ground.  




Plank to Downward Dog - The plank is well known ab exercise, and be done alone, but adding in the downward dog movement utilizes more muscle groups for strength and balance. Begin with body facing floor, firmly placing palms into the ground directly below your shoulders. Lift up onto your toes and push heels back. Keep your core tight, and slowly lift your butt into the air so that your body forms an upside-down 'V' (Or, "downward dog' position rom Yoga.) Hold for one breath, then return slowly back into the plank position.





Side Planks (each side) -  Begin by laying on your side, and arm bent so that your forearm holds your upper body weight. Lift by your core and hip so that your feet and forearm support you fully. Hold for 30-60 seconds. To make this easier, you can stagger your feet so that one foot is in front of the other. You can make this more challenging by stacking your feet AND lifting one leg so that you are only using one leg for support.




Bicycles - To work your obliques fully, lay on your back and gently support the back of your head with your fingertips and keep your elbows wide. Like the crunch, DO NOT put the weight of your head into your hands. Lift your upper back and shoulders off the floor, and tighten your core. Lift your legs as well. Bring one knee towards the chest, and rotate your upper body so that the opposite elbow is touching the knee (think: left knee, right elbow. Right knee, left elbow). Hold this twisting position with head lifted for one breath, then slowly rotate to the opposite side that the other knee is bent towards the opposite elbow.







..... So, what else should you do? Unfortunately, abdominal workouts are not the only ingredient in the recipe for six pack abs. You need to burn off the fat on you midsection in order to reveal all your hard work.

Interval Cardio - To burn off fat in a shorter period fo time, be sure to include interval cardio workouts (short periods of high intensity cardio with short periods of rest) such as sprinting for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Keep in mind that High Intensity Workouts should never go beyond 20 minutes. The bouts of cardio should be so difficult that you are maxed out physically by 20 minutes! Check out this interval cardio workout to get your heart rate up!

Stress and Sleep - Burning off belly fat also involves reducing your stress levels. High levels of stress are known to increase levels of the hormone Cortisol, which in turn promotes the productions of fat around your stomach. To reduce your stress start off by being sure to get plenty of rest at night - about 8-9 hours of solid sleep. If this is difficult to do, aim for taking a 20 minute nap in the afternoon to rejuvenate.

Other ways you can de-stress include stretching for 5-10 minutes after a workout to calm music, meditation, positive thinking, journaling, going for a walk in nature, or seeing a counselor.

Drink Water! - In addition to all these methods, it is so important to stay hydrated - so DRINK WATER and DRINK OFTEN! Make a habit of carrying a large water bottle with you all day. Keeping water flowing through your body will help with vitamin absorption, satiating cravings, and preventing bloating. All great reasons to keep water with you at all times :)

Eat Well! - The last, and perhaps most important, part of revealing your tight abs is eating clean foods. Abs are truly made in the kitchen. This means that if you eat healthy foods, your abs will reap the benefits. By eating 5-6 small meals a day consisiting of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs, you will begin to see the fat in your mid section melt away to reveal the hard abs below.














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Hi! I 'm Karlene Murphy. A lover of food (especially if it's gluten and dairy free!), getting outdoors, lifting weights, travel, writing, and snuggling with my two puppies. My addictions include chocolate, coffee, cookies, and sharing my love of being HAPPY and HEALTHY! My passion is educating others - whether at my full time job as a high school Psychology teacher, or with YOU my readers. I have been in the fitness wold for almost 10 years, and currently am an Online Fitness Coach, Fitness Instructor, Pilates and Yoga and Aerial Yoga Instructor in Southern New Hampshire. Contact Me if you need help with designing your own fitness and nutrition program.

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