5 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Ab Workout
Everyone wants a six-pack... No matter how far away they may be from achieving it!
Exercise is the solution for everything - right? We are led to believe that just getting out there and doing it is all that's needed. But doing the right exercise the wrong way or an exercise that you're not ready for yet could leave you with a bad back instead of that six-pack you crave.
So how do you choose which ab exercises are right for you? Answer these 5 questions and then read about how to make the most of your exercise time and energy.
1. Do you spend most of your day sitting?
If you do, your lower abdominal muscles may be a lot weaker than your lower back muscles. Long periods of sitting can weaken your lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, as well as cause slouching. In fact, that is a common problem for many of us, regardless of fitness levels. Unless you have perfect posture!
Look for exercises which focus on your lower abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles. For floor exercises, consider reverse curls. At the gym or an outdoor station? Look for a hanging leg raise or knee raise station.
2. Do you have current or past problems with your back?
A sad reality is that back problems are persistent and old injuries rarely heal completely. Many back problems are caused by having weaker abdominal muscles than back muscles. That pulls the back out of alignment and the shoulders forward - giving you that wonderful caveman look!
Best bets - make sure your back is well supported and focus on strengthening first your lower abdominal muscles and then your upper abdominal and lateral abdominal muscles. Use ergonomically designed and bio-mechanically correct equipment to help you keep the right form. Don't overwork your muscles - tired muscles can be sloppy muscles and increase the rate of injury.
3. Do you have access to supervised training help?
If you have access to a personal trainer or a qualified gym trainer, make sure to take full advantage of their help. Be clear about your concerns and your goals - but be ready to listen as well. Trainers will help you optimize your exercise without hurting your body.
If you work out at home or (on a piece of outdoor fitness equipment) in outdoor fitness systems, make sure the equipment you use is designed with the proper bio-mechanical framework to make sure your form is right and that you won't hurt yourself.
4. Craving an ab challenge? Getting bored with regular exercises?
If you usually stick to one ab exercise and you can do high numbers of reps without fatigue, it might be time to step it up a notch. Boredom and exercise don't go well together. Most people either slow down and stop when they get bored, or stop paying attention to form and get hurt. Crank it up by targeting other muscle sets in the ab group or working them in combination.
On a sit-up bench, try lateral twists. Like the knee raise lift? Try it with legs fully extended - perpendicular to the ground.
Just remember, don't expect to be able to do the same number of reps in a new exercise and take the time to make sure you're doing it properly.
5. How do I get that six-pack?!
Don't forget to add cardio! The bottom line is that you can have a six-pack and perfectly toned ab muscles but even a small amount of fat on top means that no one will ever know. Including cardiovascular exercise in your fitness regime will help reveal that perfect set of abs beneath.
And even if you never get that six-pack revealed, you'll still
be happy with the changes you do see.