Sunday, February 28, 2021

Abs in Three Moves - Sarah L. Chadwell (2021)

 Thierry Pastel 

Face it: Core training shouldn't just be a staple because you want a hot body. Your core is your centerpiece. Think of playing Jenga. The blocks in the middle that keep the tower from certain collapse represent your core. It's your stability center, and when your core is strong, the rest of your body can become even stronger. 

As you know, all training movements and variations of these movements work in different ways to help develop your muscles. All targeted core exercises help to strengthen your abs, but there are exercises that are better suited for density, and still others draw your abs in tightly around your spine which makes your midsection visually compact. Gaining all three of these benefits from your abs regimen is our goal for you.
If you're hardcore about maintaining a rock solid body, we have the moves that will make your core strong, three-dimensional, and compact. What follows are three moves you can do anywhere, the why behind performing these exercises, and the frequency at which you should be training.  
1) Strengthen With the Double Crunch
Abdominal crunches are an exercise specifically designed to strengthen the core muscles of the body. The overall impact of performing crunches is that you'll strengthen the muscles of your core, improve your posture, and you will increase not only the mobility, but also the flexibility of the muscles trained. 

The double crunch is a calisthenics move that involves a regular crunch combined with a reverse crunch. It's one move that serves as a two-for-one deal. By combining two crunching movements into one hardcore (no pun intended) exercise, you will effectively work more muscles at once. In fact, this combined movement works to strengthen your obliques, rectus abdominus and hip flexors. You efficiently work your entire core, top to bottom and side to side, in one fell swoop.

How to Do a Double Crunch
Step 1: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and cross your ankles, but don't press your knees together. 
Step 2: Place only your fingertips behind your ears to lightly support your head. You won't pull with your hands/arms at all. Throughout the exercise, keep your chin down toward your chest to maintain a neutral spine, but don't let it touch.
Step 3: Contract your abs and exhale. Using your core, lift your head, neck, shoulders and torso up and forward toward your bent knees. Simultaneously lift, or curl, your hips up and bring your glutes up toward your head. Continue up until both your shoulder blades and glutes lift up off the floor. 

Step 4: Pause for a 2-count and then slowly lower yourself back into the starting position. 

2) Build Density With the Weighted Crunch

The weighted crunch is yet another variation of the crunch; however, because it involves weight, it's a progression from crunches that's best for building both strength and density. The result of using the weighted crunch is building a core that's thick and three dimensional in appearance, which also allows for more separation to show when at a low bodyfat level. 
How to Do a Weighted Crunch
Step 1: Lie on your back in a relaxed position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle held up in the air, or you can rest your heels on a flat bench with your legs still bent at 90 degrees. 
Step 2: Hold a plate, a pair of dumbbells, or a medicine ball directly over your chest. Press the weight up to arms' length directly over your chest. 
Step 3: While keeping the weight extended, contract your abs and lift like you would for a crunch, until your upper back is off the floor. Squeeze your abs for a 2-count.
Step 4: Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. You can keep the weight extended or bring it back down to your chest between reps. However, if you lower it for each repetition, don't use momentum to push yourself into the next rep.
3) Get Compact With Planks
Planks are one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your core. The added bonus is that they also strengthen just about every other muscle in your body because you need all of them to stabilize yourself during this exercise.
The major benefit of doing planks that we're focusing on is that they strengthen your transversus abdominis, the deepest core muscles in your body. The transverse abs wrap around your torso. Picture an internal corset that compresses your abdominal wall. When you strengthen your transverse abs, that corset an cinch down, or hold, tighter.   

Not only do stronger transverse abs better protect and support your internal organs, but they also cinch in your waistline making your midsection compact and tight. You must also strengthen the transverse abdominis to properly build your rectus abdominis or six-pack. 

How to Do a Plank

Step 1: Place the palms of your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders. Position your feet hip-width apart and push up until your spine is completely straight. You should be balancing on the balls of your feet. Make sure your body is down and in line with your spine. 
Step 2: Draw your belly button in toward your spine. This keep your core up and tight. Squeeze with your glutes.
Step 3: Squeeze your lats as if your were pulling away from the ground. Keep your chin down and toward your chest. REMEMBER: DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE.
Step 4: Hold! 
The Workout
Just as the exercises you choose are significant for seeing results, so is your frequency and volume of training. Keep in mind that the core muscles need recovery time just like all other muscles, and you don't have to work them every day to see fantastic results [Diet, duh, what diet. Where's the damn abs you promised!] 
We propose that you train two or three times per week at the end of your workout and use progressive overload each week to ensure your abs continue to develop. 
Week One
During the first week, complete two rounds [tri-sets] of each exercise for the specified reps. Take a 30-second rest between exercises and one minute between rounds.    

Double Crunch: beginner, 15-20 reps; advanced, to failure
Weighted Crunch: same as above
Plank: beginner, 30-60 seconds; advanced, to failure

Week Two
During the second week, you can progress your workout by increasing repetitions. Another way to progress is by completing additional rounds, and you can also increase the amount of weight used for weighted crunches. For example: 
Double Crunch: beginner, 20-25 reps; advanced, to failure
Weighted Crunch: same as above
Plank: beginner, 45-75 seconds; advanced, to failure.
If you're advanced, you should work to increase the point at which you reach failure. Push for the extra repetitions on the crunches and longer holds for the planks. You should also be completing more rounds than a beginner. 
All of these exercises are to be performed slowly, and you should be squeezing your core and feeling the muscle contractions. This is not a race to the finish line. Quality is king!  

The core of anything is an essential component. When it comes to your body, your core is the centerpiece for both strength and aesthetics. You need to give it the proper attention. Using these three moves along with a clean-lean diet will allow you to show off your abs in no time. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!





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