Written by Jack Boardman
Achieve Killer Abs With Diversity
The abdominal muscles, like all muscles that you want to get shredded, require a routine of exercise, weighted lifting and rest in order to build, strengthen and grow. If you do no targeted exercises, even the basics, then beginning with sets of sit-ups three times a week will have a positive effect.
It might be that, even if you get in regular sit-ups, what’s needed is a bit of diversity to your abs workout. Your rectus abdominus (your six pack) isn’t the only part you ought to target. There’s also the obliques, which run alongside your six pack, as well as the transverse abdominus, which is layered below your internal oblique muscle. All of these help with movements like twisting, rotating, extending and flexing. You need to focus on exercises that channel these movements equally to target those muscles in the way you would target the bicep or chest. With work, they will activate and grow. So don’t just focus on the six pack as a matter of sit-ups, think of the torso as a whole and the results will follow.
Many people think that abdominal workouts start and end with sit-ups and similar targeted exercises. This isn’t true. In fact many other exercises, particularly weight lifting work your abs even when you thought you were targeting something else. Think about it: with compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pressing and rowing, your abs contract. Add to that the amount of weight you’re lifting, and by the end of each set you’ll have done some serious core work.
Because compound lifting targets your abs, it’s fair to say that if you focus on arm and leg strength, your abs are going to be strong. However, that’s not to say that they will still be easy to see if you have too much body fat.
Here are a few ideas to ensure all-over coverage:
Sliding Knee Tuck
For this one you’ll need a slippery/ smooth surface and socks or something that will allow your feet to glide freely on the floor. Position yourself as if to do press ups but raise your glutes so that it is high in the air with your head low. Bring one of your knees towards your chest with your toes still touching the floor. Alternate your legs as if walking, exaggerating the stretching and bending of your legs each time.
Yoga Ball Exercises
Yoga balls can be utilised by using exercises that require you to balance, thus channelling your core. To begin, try normal crunches while perching on the edge of a large medicine ball.
For something different, lie on your back with your arm stretched out over your head. With your legs outstretched, squeeze the ball between your feet. Slowly bring your feet up so your legs are at a right angle to your flat back and pass the ball to your hands. Lower it back over your head and bring to the middle again to your waiting feet.
Lay flat on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent, with a weight in your hands held out in front of you, keep your lower back on the floor and crunch. Depending on the weight, aim for three sets and high reps.
These can be done with your back flat on the floor, while hanging from a pull-up bar or dangling from dipping bars. Raise your knees towards your midriff slowly, rather than allowing the momentum of your legs to swing. When you want to take it a step further, keep your legs straight when raising.
As mentioned before, mentally focus on the lower belly until you feel the effects there. With your back and legs straight, support yourself on your elbows for three 60 second sets. When you are ready to move on, rest on a medicine ball, increasing the inclination.
Medicine Ball Pivot
With a weighted medicine ball in your hands, sit on the floor with your legs stretched out before you. Lean back slightly until you feel your abs working. Twist and touch the ball either side of your hips, taking care to pivot slowly. When you improve, raise your feels off the floor.
A six pack is the result of more than just crunches, as you may have gathered by now. You may be surprised that leg day plays a role in defining your belly, but compound lifts such as deadlifts and squats channel your core and work the upper and lower abs as well as your obliques. Think about it: next time you’re squatting, focus on your gut and how it tenses.