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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Week 3- ABS


What is your fitness goal? 

Everyone has problem areas that they are not happy with and would like to change. My problem area is my stomach. If I don’t exercise and eat healthy my stomach is the first place I put on weight and because of this my goal has always been to have a really strong core and I have had to work hard for it. I am not alone in the fact that most people would love to have abs or six packs but are they willing to work hard for it?  The reality is that you can do as many crunches as you like but I am afraid your abs are not going to magically appear.

You can’t Spot Reduce

Abs exercises are great to build strength and definition but, if there’s a layer of fat there, you’ll never see them. Spot reducing does not work. This is when you work your abs in an effort to reduce belly flab. Contrary to misleading exercise equipment infomercials this is not how the body works. You can’t force the body to lose fat in a particular area by exercising isolated muscles. 

If you are not at your desired weight and you have fat around your abdominal region focus on losing that body weight by eating healthy and doing you bodyweight training from Weeks 1 and 2. You need to lose weight all over you cannot just reduce the fat from your stomach. Weight training targets all of your muscle groups, abs included. You are much better off working the larger muscle groups that help you burn more calories overall i.e. burpees, skipping etc

Are you Ready?

Only after surpassing the diet and cardio requirements can you focus on the abdominal exercises.  You don’t have to work your abs every day and, in fact, that can be counterproductive. Below are some exercises for working the abdominals. I either incorporate a few into my workout along with my weight training or I complete a session of weight training and then add a bonus round of 3 minutes to focus on my abs.

After three weeks of weight training and clean eating, I feel I am now lean enough to start working on my abs. As you can see above, my abs are starting to become visible again and this result was not from any crunches or abs only focused exercises but through regular bodyweight exercises from the previous weeks i.e burpees, pushups, high knees etc. As I said before ALL of the exercises I have shown you previously engage your core so you are always working out your abs as well as other muscle groups. 

Here are some basic abs exercises that really work your core and gets your heart rate going. These are good exercises to get started and then we can incorporate more difficult moves as we get stronger.

Abs Exercises:

1)     Reach Through Side Plank

This exercise is great for your obliques. Start in the side plank position resting you bodyweight on your arm. If this is too difficult balance on your elbow. Reach your hand through under your ribcage then slowly extend your arms straight up towards the ceiling, repeat. As you reach through, exhale and squeeze your abdominals in tighter allowing your hips and feet to twist naturally. Repeat this on both sides.

2)  Overhead Abs

This is a more difficult version of the normal abs crunch as it requires the use of a weight. Start with the weight extended above your head with arms fully extended and knees bent. Lift your body upwards into a crunch with the weight over your head and then press it into the air. Return to start position.

3)     Huggers Abs

With your hand gripping the edges of the table or chair, extend your legs out in front of you whilst holding your core tight and then raise your knees towards your chest and repeat.  You can really feel the burn with these ones.

4) Plank Toe Touchers

Start in the plank position. From the plank position extend opposite leg in under your body to opposite hand. Touch the top of your toe with your hand. Return back into plank position then continue with the other leg. 

5) Bicycle Abs

Lie face up on the mat. Put your hands behind your head for support. Start with your legs straight out but held just slightly above the ground. Raise one knee into your chest and lift the shoulder blades off the floor. Rotate to the left, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee as you straighten the other leg. Alternate sides.

6) Plank Opposite Leg and Hand Touch

Start in the plank position. Make sure your core is engaged. Extend the left leg out to the side as far as you can and at the same time extend opposite leg to the side as far as you can reach. Hold and return to plank. Repeat with the other leg and hand. Keep it at a good pace and keep your core tight.

 7) Knee Hugger, rollover into Superman

Lie on the ground facing upwards, with your legs out straight. Lift your legs towards    your chest and at the same time lift your shoulder blades up and wrap your arms around your knees and release straightening your legs but not letting them touch the ground. Roll over on your stomach and complete a superman pose lifting your arms and legs off the ground. Roll back on your back and repeat knee hugger.