Everyone wants a 6 pack!
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that we all have “6 packs”, it is simply hidden under layers of…..fat! You can do crunches until the sun comes out, but in order to get them to pop you need to achieve a low percentage of body fat. This can be accomplished through healthy eating habits and a well rounded exercise program.
If you are one to believe that the “core” is simply your “6 pack” muscle, I have news for you! The abdominals consist of 4 layers; the rectus abdominis (6 pack; flexes the torso), the external and the internal obliques (flexes, rotates, and laterally flexes the vertebral column), and the transverse abdominis (deepest layer; compresses and stabilizes the abdomen). Furthermore, the erector spinae muscles (back extensors) and the psoas major and minor (hip flexors) are also considered part of the core. If you are weak in any of these areas, well you cannot expect to be strong in other areas of the body.
Okay, so back to that 6 pack. As I mentioned, you could spend countless hours performing crunches and other ab exercises, but this does not mean you’ll wake up with a chiseled core. These exercises will help strengthen the muscles, but won’t make the fat disappear. It will however cause unnecessary stress on the spine, and thats no good!
Whenever you are standing or on an unstable surface, your core is at work. Exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts work the core like crazy! Spending an entire workout strictly doing ab exercises probably won’t get you very far; instead, incorporate such exercises as the ones I mentioned, and ones that challenge your balance. Cardiovascular exercises such as biking, running, incline walking, swimming, and skipping will also help in achieving that 6 pack; so long as you also eat well!
I personally like to throw in some specific core exercises at the end of my workouts 2-3 times a week.However, many exercises in my routines heavily involve the core…so it’s always at work! Here are a few that I stand by:
Plank: Lay face down with your elbows directly below your shoulders. Pressing into the balls of your feet, lift your torso off the ground while keeping your back as straight as possible. Contract the abdominals and hold. Your bum should not be sticking in the air, and the low back should not sag! Inhale and exhale slowly…never hold your breath.
Pullover with Straight Leg Lift: Using a wide grip, hold a body bar or barbell in your hands and lay flat on your back with your arms and legs extended straight into the air. Inhale as you slowly separate your arms and legs until they slightly hover over the floor. Hold for one second then quickly draw the legs and arms back to starting position. Exhale as you perform this movement.
Reverse Crunch: Lay flat on your back and bring the hips and knees to 90 degrees. Exhale as you use your abs to draw the knees up towards the chest. Lift the bum off the mat slightly, hold, then slowly inhale and lower back to the start.
Side Plank: Laying on your side, place your elbow directly below your shoulder. Lift the hips off the ground and stick the opposite arm up in the air. Contract the abdominals and hold. Make sure to breath!
Knee Ups: Using equalizers, a captains chair, or hanging from a bar, begin by bringing the hips and knees to 90 degrees. Exhale as you draw your knees up towards your chest, while keeping the knees at 90 degrees. Inhale and slowly lower back to the start. No momentum allowed!
Supermans: Lay on your stomach and extend your arms out in front of you as if you were flying. Exhale as you slowly lift your chest and thighs off the mat, hold for one second, then slowly inhale and return to the starting position.
Thanks for reading!