You’re not greedy. You’re not asking for a six pack. You’d settle for a slightly flatter look and a bit more tone. But no matter how many crunches you do, it seems impossible to firm and define those elusive abdominal muscles.Given our obsession with abs, you’d think we’d have figured it out by now. But many of us are still frustrated by a lack of results. What are we doing wrong? Should we be doing different exercises?

To clear the air, here is an abdominal program touted as the best six abdominal busters by bodybuilders, athletes and many week-end athletes.

Do this workout 3 times a week, with a day off between sessions. Begin all workouts with moves 1 and 2, then choose 2 of the remaining 4 moves. Vary the moves throughout the week to keep your abdominals challenged.

Whatever your fitness level, begin with 1 set of each move, resting 45 – 60 seconds after each set. For best results, pay special attention to your form so that you fatigue your target muscles by the end of each workout. When this is no longer challenging, add a second set of each move, or don’t rest between exercises.

Roll Up

Lie face up on the floor with your legs extended, feet together. Extend arms above your chest, palms facing forward, fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Drop shoulder blades down away from your ears. Inhale, tucking your chin to look at your navel as you begin to roll your upper body up, keeping your spine rounded. Exhale, pulling your navel towards your spine as you continue rolling up, slowly raising your upper body to a full seated position. Slowly roll back down to starting position, keeping your arms raised, and repeat for all reps. Begin with 4 roll ups, gradually building to 6. Targets rectus abdominis.

Forearm Plank

Begin on your knees and forearms, elbows aligned with shoulders, fingers interlaced. Draw shoulder blades down and contract abs to stabilize your torso. Extend your right leg behind you, toes turned under, weight on ball of foot, keeping hips square and pelvis stable. Extend left leg, feet together, so you’re supported on forearms and balls of feet. Hold for 20 seconds; relax. Do 3 reps. Begin with a 20 second hold; gradually build to 30 seconds, then 1 minute. Targets obliques.

Bridge with Leg Extension

Lie face up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor; hip width apart. Relax arms by your sides, palm facing down. Contract abdominals, pulling your naval towards your spine. Inhale; then exhale as you lift your tailbone. Lift your back until only your shoulder blades touch the floor, your body forming a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 30 seconds. Maintaining the bridge position, extend your left leg in front of you at hip height. Hold. Return foot to floor; then repeat with your right leg, keeping hips elevated throughout. Continue alternating legs for all reps without letting your hips or torso drop. Do 8 alternating leg extensions (4, with each leg); gradually build to 16 (8 with each leg). Targets rectus abdominis; obliques and erector spinae (lower back muscles).

Ball Oblique Twist

Sit on stability ball, knees bent, feet on floor. Walk your feet out and lie back; put right hand on ball, left hand behind head. Use glutes to tilt pelvis up. Maintain this position throughout. Contract abs (pull naval towards spine) as you roll your torso up, bringing ribs towards hips; then rotate left elbow towards right knee. Keeping hips square and lifted, slowly lower. Do reps on the left side, then right. Begin with 8 -12 reps per side; gradually build to 16. Targets rectus abdominis and obliques.

Bent Knee Crunch

Lie face up on the floor; knees bent and in line with hips, calves parallel to floor; feet together. Rest unclasped fingertips behind head, elbows pointing out to the sides. Contract abs, pulling your naval in towards your spine. Maintain leg position as you use abs to pull ribs in towards hips, lifting head, neck, then shoulder blades off the floor. Begin with 8 – 12 reps, gradually build to 16 – 20 reps. Targets rectus abdominis and obliques.

Reverse Curl

Lie face up, knees bent, heels close to your buttocks and fingertips behind head. Without changing knee angle, contract abs to curl your tailbone a few centimeters off the floor, knees rolling towards chest. Avoid moving thighs to lift higher; keep heels towards buttocks. Slowly lower to floor; repeat for all reps. Begin with 8 – 12 reps; gradually build to 16 – 20 reps. Targets rectus abdominis and obliques.

: article by Sandra Prior

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Copyright (c) 2008 Ed ScowAbs, abs, abs. Everybody wants a nice set of six pack abs. Or if you’re not after the six-pack abs, you at least want a nice firm and toned stomach.

Something that looks good with your shirt off or in a bikini.

But how do you get it?

Do you need to follow some weird diet? Do you need to take a magic fat burning supplement? Do you need to buy the latest abs gadget off a television infomercial?

No, no, no. You don’t need to follow a weird diet, you don’t need to buy a fat burning supplement (that doesn’t work anyway) and you especially don’t need to buy the latest abs gadget off an infomercial.

Nutritionally speaking, you just need to make some minor tweaks and changes in order to get your body to start burning more of your stubborn stomach fat.

Start by eating more fiber. Stick with lots of fruits and vegetables and keep the grains to a minimum.

You also need to make sure you get enough protein and fat. Yes I said fat. Your body needs a certain amount of fat in order to function properly and there have been studies that show that people who consume more foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and other cold water fish, and nuts, like almonds, lose more stomach fat than those who didn’t.

So stock up on your Omega-3 rich foods and get more protein.

When it comes to exercise, you don’t need to live in the gym. Nor do you need to do nothing but cardio. Quite the opposite, actually. You need to stick to more resistance training and interval training if you really want to lose stomach fat and get a firm, toned stomach or six-pack abs.

Your workouts should consist of lots of movements that work your entire body, and shouldn’t be split into “parts”. Meaning stick with exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, mountain climbers, dumbbell swings, etc. and stay away from movements that don’t work much muscle and don’t burn too many calories like bicep curls and triceps kickbacks or those silly leg machines that move like the old “Thigh Master” home workout gadgets.

Your workouts should also take less than 30 minutes. By sticking to that timeframe, you’ll ensure you keep the intensity level up, meaning you’ll burn a lot of fat in as short a period as possible.

When it comes to abs specific workouts, you don’t need to spend lots and lots of time devoted to crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, etc.

In fact, you can get an awesome abs workout done from the comfort of your own home in as little as 4 minutes.

The next time you’re working out, try this circuit after your regular workout.

1A) Mt. Climbers – 30 seconds
1B) Squat Jump with Knee Tuck – 10 jumps
1C) DB Swing – 10 reps

Rest 20-30 seconds after the DB Swings and perform the circuit as many times as possible in 4 minutes.

Here’s a quick run-through of the exercises:

Mt. Climbers – Lie on the floor in the top push-up position so only your hands and feet are on the floor. Brace your abs and begin the exercise by flexing one knee and bringing that knee toward your chest, return to the starting position and bring the opposite knee toward your chest. Repeat in a swift tempo, alternating back and forth like you’re running, (or climbing a mountain, surprise surprise) for 30 seconds.

Squat Jump with Knee Tuck – Stand up straight and tall with your feet shoulder width apart. Progress into a normal bodyweight squat and as you reach the bottom, explosively stand back up so you jump off the floor as high as you can. As you jump into the air, bring your knees toward your chest by flexing your abs. Land lightly on your toes, steady yourself and repeat.

DB Swing – Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width holding a dumbbell with both hands. Squat down while letting the dumbbell go between your legs, but not behind you. Explosively flex your glutes and stand up as you swing the dumbbell straight out in front of you until it’s at chest height. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Perform that mini-circuit a few times a week after your regular workout and I guarantee you’ll notice our stomach shrinking and a nice set of abs appearing within a matter of weeks.

: article by Ed Scow

There is some debate in the fitness industry about how to work the lower abdominal muscles. The truth is that the 6 pack (rectus abdominus) is one muscle that has distinct sections. And although you cannot only contract the lower portion of the rectus abdominus, you can emphasize it a little more than the upper abs if you follow the 7 Lower Abdominal Workout tips below.Now before we get to the 7 tips, I have to tell you that working your lower abs will not magically get rid of stomach fat. This is referred to as spot reduction and spot reduction is the biggest myth in fitness. You should work your lower abs to stabilize your pelvis, support good posture, improve function and performance, and exercise your spine in different directions.

Here are 7 lower ab workout tips.

#1 Move you pelvis. The rectus abdominus attaches to the ribs and also to the pelvis. When the ribs move like in a crunch the upper abs are emphasized. However, when the pelvis moves like in a reverse crunch or a posterior pelvic tilt, the lower abs are emphasized. Reverse crunches are a great place to start when you want to workout the lower abdominal muscles.

#2 Move your legs. When you move your legs during ab exercises, your lower abdominal muscles must work really hard to stabilize the pelvis. For example, doing leg raises emphasizes the lower abs a little more than doing crunches. Leg raises can be done from many different positions, such as lying on the floor, hanging from a bar, or using a captain’s chair.

#3 Add resistance when you get stronger. If you get so strong that reverse crunches or leg raises become easy, you should add resistance to the exercises to breakthrough your strength plateaus. Ankle weights are a great way to add resistance to your legs to increase the challenge on your lower abdominal muscles.

#4 Use an incline. Using an incline is another great way to emphasize and increase the challenge in the lower abdominal area. If you do reverse crunches or leg raises on an incline board, your lower ab muscles work much harder against gravity.

#5 Use something contoured. This is a hidden secret to get more muscle work in your lower abs. Since your lower back has a slight natural curve, using a contoured surface like a Bosu Ball or a Pilates Barrel allows you to get more range of motion and more muscle work. Since the floor is flat it may decrease your range of motion during certain exercises, but with a contoured surface you get more motion.

#6 Stretch your lower back and hips. Inflexibility in the hips and back will decrease your range of motion and put additional pressure on your lower back. Because most people have sedentary jobs, most people have stiff lower back. If you have a stiff lower back, you will have difficulty emphasize your entire abdominal region, especially the lower abs. You should warm up and stretch your hips and lower back before doing lower ab exercises.

#7 Workout your abs 2-3 times a week. No need to workout your lower abdominal muscles every day. 2-3 times a week is all you need. You do not have to slave away doing a thousand repetitions. 2-6 total sets of 12-20 repetitions are all you really need. Now, if you want to lose weight, you should take a comprehensive approach to fitness and also perform aerobic exercise, weight training, and eat a healthy diet.

: article by Charles A. Inniss, Jr. DPT