How to Work Out Abs

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It must be close to swimsuit season because everyone is asking about how to work out abs! One of the most important things to remember is that diet and genetics play such a huge part in seeing those 6 pack abs. You might have amazing abs but there might be a layer of fat hiding them from the world. Losing body fat is the only way to make them visible. This means a reduction in calories and/or additional cardio exercise. Where you carry your weight is genetic. Some people gain and lose starting from the chin and then moving down, others from the hips moving up and others in their middle first. This means patience is important when getting toned and losing body fat.

Ab Muscles
We spend tons of our workout time exercising the ab muscles, but do you really know what those are and how to target them? Here’s what you need to know about your core muscles.

How to Work Out the Rectus Abdominus
When thinking about working the abs, most people think of it as one big section. The truth, however, is that your abs are a complex muscle system and that each group needs to be worked. When you are working on that six-pack look, you’re working on your rectus abdominus.

The rectus abdominus is located in the front, center of your stomach. It runs from the ribs all the way to the pelvis, and is all one muscle; so, when you hear people working on their “upper” and “lower” abs, they’re really working the same muscle. This gives new meaning to “best lower ab exercises” and “best upper ab exercises”! That’s right – there are no upper abs and lower abs – it is all the same muscle!

The best way to work your rectus abdominus is through regular crunches, lower leg raises, and in and outs. You should be familiar with the first two exercises; the last one is where you sit on the floor or on the edge of a chair and bring your legs into your chest and then away in a controlled manner.

How to Work Out Abs with a Ball Crunch

How to Work Out Abs with In and Outs

How to Work Out the Transverse Abdominus
The transverse abdominus is the deepest of our ab muscles. It is responsible for holding everything in place on the inside, including the spine. Although we don’t see this muscle from the outside, we should still work on strengthening it. If the transverse abdominus becomes weak, it can lead to back problems, poor posture, and other issues.

Pilates is a great way to tone this ab muscle because the moves used require you to engage your core at its deepest level. You can begin to locate this muscle by lying on your back and placing your hands over your stomach. Now squeeze your belly button downward to your spine. When your hands lower, you are using your transverse abdominus.

You can also do this move while standing or, to provide more resistance, in a pushup position. If trying the pushup position though, be sure to hold your body in a straight line and don’t let your butt stick up or droop!

How to Work Out Abs with Pushup Balance

How to Work Out the Obliques
You have both internal and external obliques, which are located on the sides of your waist. These muscles are responsible for twisting from side to side, so strengthening these muscles can help you to trim your waist.

What are the best oblique exercises? One of the best ways to work these muscles is by doing side-to-side crunches on either the floor or a fitness ball. Start by lying on your back with your arms crossed in front or lightly holding the back of your head. Now, instead of crunching straight up to the ceiling, twist to the left as you lift and then come back to center; then, twist to the right as you lift and come back to center. Repeat.

The entire time you’re doing these, remember to breathe and to squeeze your belly button towards your spine. Of course you can’t spot train, but targeting these individual muscles will help you see results.

How to Work Out Abs with the Woodchop Warmup

How to Work Out Abs with Bicycle Abs

How to Work Out the Back Muscles
Most people don’t think about the back as being important for strong abs. In truth, however, the back is part of your core, and is therefore very important. Strengthening your back muscles will help stabilize your spine and improve your posture, which in turn will help improve the look and feel of your abs.

The multifidus and erector spinae are the two back muscles that are most associated with the core. The erector spinae can be strengthened when working the obliques. The multifidus is the muscle that runs along your spine; you can focus on engaging this one by using either the cobra or plank exercises.

So, while you’re devoting time to doing crunches, be sure to dedicate some time to your back as well. You’ll see better results by strengthening the entire core, back included.

Crunching Ab Exercise Mistakes
There are several mistakes you can make when doing ab exercises, but here are my Top 3!

#1 Form
Form is so important. Not only does proper form prevent injury but it also helps to keep the focus on the ab muscles. So many people are doing hundreds of crunches but instead of focusing on using their abs, they are using the hip flexors to do the crunch! When you crunch, you should only feel and see the action in your waist.

#2 Too Much Repetition
Quantity doesn’t count on this one! Yes, being able to do lots of crunches is great but it’s not the goal. The idea is to do exercises that target certain muscles within a set or two, not hundreds!

#3 Daily Grind
Your abs are muscles. Muscles shouldn’t be worked everyday. What does this mean? Ab muscles need time to heal too so give them their days off as well!

Well now you know how important your diet is to getting those 6 pack abs, what the ab muscles are and exercises that target them and common mistakes that you don’t want to make! You have no excuse, this is the summer you want to show off your tan, toned tummy!

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