The elusive six-pack is a just reward for the time, dedication, and a consistent fitness routine it takes to get one. However, the effort you apply in achieving sculpted abs should also be strategic. Here’s why:
Your body loves efficiency and will devise ways to expend as few resources as it can get away with expending. This includes when you’re trying to work your muscles as hard as you can. It can be frustrating to spend session after workout session targeting your abs, only to get marginal change. If your current selection of abs exercises is suddenly too easy, it may be time to kick it up a notch.
Explore advanced abs exercises and give your core something new to work with. Also, congratulations for keeping at it for as long as you have. Let’s get into the science of exercise and muscle sculpting.
How the six-pack happens: Fat burning and building muscle
Everyone has abdominal muscles, but not everyone has washboard abs. The reason may range from a generous layer of fat to a lack of muscle definition. Advanced abs exercises tackle both these issues at the same time. They tend to be high-intensity exercises that strengthen the core while burning massive amounts of calories.
High-intensity exercises also tend to be a form of anaerobic exercise, meaning that your muscles flex in the absence of oxygen. This means that you get to enjoy an after-burn long after your workout. After-burn means that your metabolism will adapt to target stomach fat, even as you go about the rest of your day. We’ll go through exercises that target the core. By the core, we mean:
- The large muscle that wraps around your spine
- Your lower back muscles and
- The popular oblique muscles, or abs
The following sections go over different high-intensity abs exercises and how they can help towards a six-pack:
1) The plank
Since this is a piece on advanced abs exercises, let’s consider the plank an entry point to a larger routine. The plank is a full-body exercise that primarily engages the core. If you maintain good form as you do planks, you will condition your core and define your abs in the process. Here is how to do a plank that puts your muscles to work:
- Get on the floor and rest your forearms in front of you
- Make sure that each of your elbows sits directly under its corresponding shoulder
- Your legs should be stretched out behind you, with your toes raising the legs off the floor. Your body should form a straight line from shoulder to heel
- Engage all the muscles in your torso, legs, and glutes, remembering to keep your body in a straight line
- Keep your eyes on your hands to keep your neck in a neutral position
- Hold this position for as long as you can
The more your muscles grow, the longer you’re able to hold the plank condition. This doesn’t mean that you should strain your body to the point of injury. A trainer is your best bet if you want to know how far you should push your body at your present fitness level.
2) Shift into gear with the medicine ball full extension
Medicine ball extensions are an advanced group of exercises that require a high level of muscle conditioning and balance. Start by lying flat on the floor, with your outstretched arms holding the medicine ball behind your head. Then do the following:
- Raise the ball off the ground at a slight angle, and bend your elbows to allow for easier movement of the ball
- Engage your abs to do a sit up, and bring the medicine ball forwards and towards your knees
- At the same time, bend your knees such that they meet your arms as you sit up
- Just like with a regular sit up, return to the original position
This describes a single rep. Use this exercise for high-intensity interval training by doing as many reps as you can within a time period of your choosing. Usually, that period ranges from a minute to three. It bears mentioning that you should ensure good form to reap maximum benefits from this exercise.
3) Into the deep end with weighted rotations
For this exercise, you can use free weights or a medicine ball. You’ll also need an exercise ball to ensure good form and keep things interesting. Like the previous exercises, rotations require muscle conditioning and balance. The weight of your medicine ball or dumbbells you use also depends on your fitness levels. Here’s how to do a weighted rotation:
- Sit on the floor and position an exercise ball so that it provides support for the head, neck, and shoulders
- Pick up your weights
- Lower your head and shoulders onto the exercise ball and keep the ball stable
- Raise your arms straight up to position the medicine ball or free weights over your chest
- Next, tighten your abs and twist your torso to the left, as far as you can
- Keep your arms outstretched and the exercise ball from slipping from under you as you twist your torso
- Rotate your torso back to the original position, such that the weights are directly above your chest
- Tighten your abs again and twist your torso to the right, as far as you can
- Again, keep your arms outstretched and the exercise ball from slipping from under you
This makes one rep. You can keep your legs straight out in front of you, or you can bend your knees at a slight angle. Expect this exercise to tax every one of your core muscles. Also, it’s advisable to get a trainer’s input on your form.
Discipline and strategy remain your best assets
Exercise does wonders for your health and physique. This is the case for anyone that adopts a clever and informed approach to their workouts. It bears mentioning that a healthy diet is the second half of the equation that yields a six-pack.
Consider getting the input of a trainer to get personalized tips on your journey to sculpted abs. Advice and pointers from a professional will make every one of your workouts more effective. Professional guidance will help you move towards your end goals at a steady clip that will keep you motivated.
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