One of the best ways to get your mid-section looking beach ready is by doing high intensity workouts using full body exercises. But no matter how much you exert yourself working out, there’s always that urge to finish the work out off by doing a little somethin’ extra on your abs…right? It’s the part of you that doesn’t want to leave any stones unturned. And who can blame you? So I decided to write a little about our beloved abs and show you one very effective ab exercise you can do at home to help satisfy your ab cravings. You may be quite surprised at what ab exercise I chose.
Ok… Drum roll please… my ab exercise of choice is…. the sit up. What!?#*! I know, I know. But before you get your panties in a bunch, let me explain. I’m not talking about traditional sit ups that work your hip flexors and hurt your back. I’m talking about sit ups done with a lumbar support while engaging your hamstring and glutes to minimize any hip flexor involvement so you can maximize recruiting your abs. This is also known as the “Janda Sit Up”. This exercise was created by a world renowned exercise physiologist Dr. Janda. He used the Principle of Reciprocal Inhibition to minimize hip flexor recruitment while doing sit ups in order to best isolate ab muscles. I also chose this ab exercise because it’s easy to learn and you can do it anywhere. All you need are a couple of towels and a pillow for a lumbar support and little space to lie down and you’re good to go.
The lumbar support allows for full extension of the abdominal muscle. This means that it allows for full range of motion of the ab muscles, which can’t be achieved with any other ab exercises. Most ab exercises only allow for partial ab movements such as crunches, leg lifts, bicycle sit ups, etc. The lumbar support also keeps the pelvis in neutral position for majority of the movement. This minimizes the recruitment of the hip flexors and also allows recruits your lower abs.
The lumbar support along with the engagement of the hamstring and glutes minimizes the involvement of the hip flexors. The less the hip flexors are involved, the better for your low back. This significantly minimizes the compression of the lumbar spine.
Bend your knees around 90 degrees and place your feet flat on the floor. Push your feet down into the floor while you slowly curl up. Come up as far as you can and then slowly curl down until you’re back into the starting position. Repeat the sit ups 6 - 8 times with perfect form. This is much harder than it looks! Try it out and let me know how you do…
While we’re on the topic of 6 pack abs, I want to point out some common myths about ab exercises:
Myth: Doing ab exercises will make you get six pack abs.
Fact: This is a complete misnomer and one that’s been around for a long time, yet people continually to do ab exercises. The most important thing to do, is to get rid of the fat around the midsection. And the only way to do that is by losing weight and burning fat. No amount of crunches and leg raises are going to get you to burn fat around the belly. And since there is no such thing as spot reduction, the best way to get rid of belly fat is by doing high intensity exercises that helps boost your metabolism and burn fat throughout the day.
Myth: Doing ab exercises will strengthen your core.
Fact: The core is made up of more than just the abdominal muscles I’ve mentioned above. And the function of the core is to stabilize the spine by preventing it from excessive flexion, extension and rotation. So by doing traditional ab exercises like crunches will not make your core stronger.
Myth: If you do a lot of ab exercises, your abs will get bigger
Fact: Too much of anything isn’t good to begin with, but if your worried about your abs getting too big, it won’t happen no matter how much you do. In fact doing tons of ab exercise will more likely cause your back to get injured than anything else. The ab muscles are just too thin to gain any significant size even if you performed a ton of “weighted” sit ups.
Myth: Side bends thin and trim your waist.
Fact: Side bends predominantly stimulate your back muscles called Quadratus Lumborum. The only way to a thin waist is by burning the fat around your belly.
Let me reiterate that ab exercises should be seen as a supplementary exercise. If you’re doing all the necessary full body functional exercises using compound movements you are already using your abs in the most functional way there is. And the best way to get six pack abs or a lean toned midsection is by getting rid of the fat around your belly. This is best achieved by partaking in fat burning workouts like circuit training and interval training done at high intensities combined with a good diet. Modify or better yet eliminate any simple sugars and processed foods to maximize insulin sensitivity and now you’re looking at a winning combination!
Shin Ohtake is the author of the world-famous fitness program, MAX Workouts. To learn more about how you can get ultra lean and toned with shorter workouts, visit http://www.MaxWorkouts.com