When it comes to shaping our bodies, one area in particular gets a lot of attention: the stomach. Many people start exercising because they are tired of lugging around the proverbial spare tire and want to be able to take their shirt off at the beach without feeling embarrassed. The abdominal muscles are the Holy Grail of fitness since it is quite hard to attain the definition that many call a “washboard” or the “six-pack”.
However, well-defined abs is not impossible to achieve and with the right diet, exercises and dedication you can shape your mid-section the way you like.
Eat Right: All the crunches, sit-ups and abdominal holds in the world won’t do any good if you continue to eat junk food, drink a lot of beer and indulge in rich desserts every night. Many people are under the impression that strengthening the abs is all it takes when in fact it is a combination of nutrition and exercise. You can’t see definition if you continue to add to layers of fat. The best way to start is to slim down first and then concentrate on exercises that will strengthen your abdominal muscles.
Sit-Ups/Crunches: One of the most basic and fundamental exercises is sit-ups or crunches. While it seems simple enough, you would be surprised how many people cheat on the form and end up negating any gains. Rushing through crunches at breakneck speed, rocking your body to get a push and failing to hold the position for a second at the top will lead to a waste of time. Don’t be afraid to ask a trainer the proper form for crunches and do each rep slowly so you feel the muscles at work.
Six Inches: Once a punishing routine for football teams, the exercise known as six inches involves lying flat on your back and slowly raising your legs until your heels are approximately six inches off the ground. The goal is to hold the position for as long as you can. You will immediately feel the burn in your stomach and over time this simple action will help strengthen the core of your abdominals making it possible to perform more difficult stomach workouts in the future.
Knee Raises: There are several ways to perform the knee raise exercise. However you choose to work your lower abdominal region, the goal is the same. With you back against a firm surface and your body off the ground (a dip rack often works best) slowly raise your knees to your chest and then lower just as slow. Repeat the exercise for 15-20 reps. Concentrate on the lower abs and try to pause when your knees reach your chest and when you lower them.
Again, all the workouts designed to build definition in the abdominal region will be for nothing if you don’t eat and drink healthy. Plan a steady diet that will eliminate foods and drinks that are counter-productive to your goal of making your stomach look like a washboard