Tuesday, August 3, 2010
It’s the most asked question in the gym.
How do I get flat abs?
Let’s start with the basics. The abdominals are made up of four muscle groups:
* Transverse Abdominus (deepest muscles, wraps around torso to support the back)
* Internal Obliques (second deepest muscles, rotation and flexion of the spine)
* External Obliques (sides of torso, can be seen/felt on surface, rotation/flexion)
* Rectus Abdominus (top layer, helps posture a bit, responsible for “6 pack”)
The abdominals are necessary for:
* Core Movement
Based on that information, one of the best ways to get flatter abs is to correct your posture. With most of us having what I like to call an “American Posture” (rounded shoulders and a pushed out stomach) due to working while sitting at a desk focused on the computer, it’s no wonder we have back pain and poor abdominal strength.
Practice posture by sitting up tall in your chair. Think about a string from your pelvis to the top of your head pulling you towards the sky. Envision your hips straight on the chair, your belly button pulled into your back, your shoulders over your hips and your head on top of your spine. If you’re doing it correctly, you will feel a pull in your stomach. That is your abdominals working – lengthening and engaging. Taking that same posture when you walk will make you look taller and keep your stomach flatter.
The second component is creating core movement. This could mean your typical sit-up or crunch, but what about a motion that involves twisting such as yoga, canoeing, or boxing? Abdominal work doesn’t have to be sit-ups. The more the torso moves in various directions the more all the muscles are engaged. Anytime the body is in an unstable position, it uses the core abdominal muscles to balance. Try something new and give your abs a shock.
Another component is the idea of breathing. As your lungs take in air, your abs naturally push air out through the mouth and nose. The more you can emphasize that motion the harder your ab muscles will work. Next time you do a crunch, inhale on the ground and as you lift your body up, exhale and think about pushing the belly button to the floor and making the abs flat. This will make your crunch much more effective.
Besides these three components, there are a few other things that contribute to flat abs including: increasing cardio exercise to burn fat, lifting weights to increase the speed of your metabolism, eating a healthy diet, and of course always adding variety to your workout to avoid a plateau.
Flat abs are hard to obtain, but it’s not impossible. Start by following one of these suggestions and see your midsection begin to change. Follow all of these and you’ll be ready to strut your stuff at the beach.