THE ULTIMATE ABS WORKOUT GUIDE
Ready to kick your workouts into gear as you tone, define and strengthen your abs? Here’s a comprehensive guide including tools to help you whittle away your midsection and build your best abs, the best workouts to target belly fat for women, how to burn through the lower abs for a V-cut, and a step-by-step breakdown on how to get an 8 pack.
What is an Ab Trainer?
Ab trainers will assist you in tightening your core, strengthening stomach muscles and eliminating belly fat. They’re made to provide back and neck support to perform the perfect sit up, while eliminating potential muscle strain in your neck, back or chest. Ab trainers come in various sizes.
How Do You Use an Ab Trainer?
Ab trainers are simple and effective to use. Put the ab trainer on the floor, with the head cushion against the floor. Lie down underneath the bars with your head resting on the head cushion. Your hands should lay across the top of the bar, coming to touch and grip in the space of the bar in direct line of your head. If there are elbow rests, place your elbows on them as well. Bend your knees and contract your abs as you roll up to crunch.
- Focus on engaging your core muscles and resist the urge to use your arms for assistance.
- Exhale on the crunch—this will cause your abs to contract more.
- For serious toning hold the crunch for 3-5 seconds at the top, before releasing.
What is an Ab Roller?
Ab rollers target the core, forcing the user to intensify their balance and strength while honing the body’s natural stabilizers—the core muscle group. Because of the continuous core work required, an ab roller trains the midsection very effectively. Ab rollers are inexpensive and easy to store, and therefore make a great travel workout option. Great for doing both beginner and advanced workout routines, ab rollers primarily train the upper and lower abdomen, external and internal oblique’s and the transverse abdominus. Ab rollers require an extension and contraction, which is why they’re so powerful. Because both motions are used, it also works the lower back, shoulders, arms, chest, waist and legs.
How Do You Use an Ab Roller?
For the most comfort and protection on your knees, roll out a mat. Kneel on your knees as if you are doing an assisted pushup—chest and legs in a straight line and hips low to the floor. Hold the ab roller with both hands and roll out in a straight line away from your body. Hold your body parallel to the ground, and roll back in, making sure to keep your body in a straight line. To increase the intensity, breathe out and contract your muscles when you roll out, and breathe in, expanding your chest when you roll up.
What is an Ab Belt?
Ab belts tone your abdominal section by holding your stomach muscles tight while using gentle electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to tighten your midsection. Belts should be worn under clothing and can be used anywhere including while completing light exercise, walking or even watching TV!
How Do You Use an Ab Belt?
There are many different brands, but most ab belts work the same. Some ab belts do require gel pads that have to be applied to the back of the belt for the EMS to be effective, however various new belts require only water—making them easier and cheaper to own. To use, strap on the belt around your lower-to-mid section and turn it on. You’ll feel the gentle pulses working through your ab muscles in no time.
Ab belts fall prey to the common myth that they alone are the solution to creating perfect abs. This is untrue. Only when combined with a healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, will the ab belt help you get the results you want.
Ab Workouts for Women
Feel like you’re losing the battle against stubborn belly fat? It seems every woman has midsection fat that doesn’t want to leave. If you feel like you have a serious health problem, talk to your health care provider about your options and treatment. But if not, understanding where the bulge comes from will help you get rid of it. Here are a few reasons you may have a stubborn tummy:
Targeting the abdominal muscles alone
A common misconception is that workouts that focus on the abdominal or midsection area alone will help you lose that extra stomach fat. The human body is meant to work in synchronicity, so it’s important to condition muscles groups together. Not only will your overall fitness and muscle strength improve, but by simultaneously working more than one part of your body at a time, you are creating a better chance for muscle tone and definition.
Health problems such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can cause excess bloating. Individuals with an apple-shaped middle abdomen are likely to have hard time to lose stomach fat. Stress is yet another problem—as it increases, the stress hormone cortisol is released into the body. Studies say cortisol has been associated with an increase in visceral fat.
Poor eating choices can cause bloating or fat gain, which may pool in your midsection. Salty foods, not enough water, and diets high in processed sugar can cause excess inflammation in the midsection.
The cliché, eat your way to abs, is true for a reason! Start by loading up on high fiber foods like dark leafy greens, eliminate processed foods and drink a lot of water. In order to see results, you’ll need to combine a regular workout routine with a healthy, balanced diet. Here are 3 exercises promised to tone and tighten your midsection:
Lie face up, feet on floor, arms extended above head on floor. Raise feet so shins are parallel to floor while bringing hands to knees. That’s 1 rep.
Lie on right side, balancing on forearm, hip on floor, and left arm resting just above left leg. Keep legs straight as you raise them a few inches and reach left hand toward left ankle. Repeat for 45 seconds, then switch sides.
Crunch and Reach
Lie face up with hands behind head, legs straight, lifted to ceiling. Open legs to a form a V. Close legs, crossing ankles, and crunch up. Lower and repeat, alternating sides with each rep.
Lower Ab Workouts
The rectus abdominus is made up of two sections separated by a midline connective tissue. Most abdominal workouts strengthen the upper and middle abs, but because your lower abs tend to be more stubborn than the upper portion in terms of strength and definition, they need targeted work as well. To get the elusive V-cut, you’ll have to burn through this body section. Here are 3 workouts to tone the lower abs:
Lie face up, arms behind your head and knees bent, in crunch position. Lift your shoulders off the ground, holding up. Cross your ankles and lift bent knees off the ground, pull in towards the face. Release your knees to a tabletop position and repeat, keeping shoulders off the ground. Inhale on the knees to table top, exhale on the knees to face.
Lie face up, hands behind your head or under the small of your back, palms down. Legs straight, lift your shoulders off the ground and crisscross ankles, alternating left on top, right on top.
Lie face up, palms together face down underneath the top of the butt, lift legs up and keeping them together, feet pointed, bring them to the ceiling and back down to hover over the floor. Inhale on the up to ceiling, exhale on the hover. For more intensity, hold at hover for 3-5 sections.
8 Pack Abs
News flash: Getting an 8-pack is within reach for anyone equipped with the right tools. You’ll need a specific diet based in lean protein and low in processed sugar and salt, a decreased caloric intake to shed excess fat, and efficient cardiovascular and resistance conditioning.
Muscular abs are made of two things: muscle definition to maximize visibility and very low body fat levels to reveal a chiseled mid-section. To achieve your dream abs, a combination of changes need to happen—starting with the things you put into your body.
To burn body fat, caloric intake must be reduced. Use a meal tracker with a weight-loss goal of between 1 and 2 pounds per week. Record the foods and drinks you’re consuming. To stay full, focus on eating lean protein like chicken and fish and lots of vegetables throughout the day. Some experts recommend carb-cycling and a paleo diet that’s high in protein and fats. Eliminate high salt and high sugar foods including processed snack foods, sweets and high-calorie drinks like soda and alcohol. Make note of how you feel before and after meals.
Increase lean muscle mass for the potential to torch calories when resting. Studies say the more lean muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism. Therefore, it’s important to preserve muscle mass, even when dieting, to protect from muscle loss. Strength train with weightlifting 2-3 times a week focusing on major muscle groups (black, chest, abs, arms, legs, shoulders and hips). Exercises that work the most muscle mass create the greatest caloric expenditure and preserve lean muscle when dieting. Use exercises like bench presses, squats, deadlifts, lunges and rows for two or three sets of six to 12 reps.
To maximize the ab visibility, you’ll need to train them directly. Do reps of core builders like planks, side planks and even push-ups. Then, add in exercises that require you actively flex your abs like reverse crunches, ab wheel rollouts and bicycle crunches. Perform two quality sets of four to five exercises for as many reps as possible for the best results.
Cardiovascular training increases your heart rate, while burning excess fat storage in the body. Though cardio training improves overall conditioning and leanness, you can’t spot train and only reduce fat on your abs. Perform high-intensity interval exercises that make you out of breath, such as jumping rope or burpees, for as many reps as possible, followed by 10-30 seconds of rest (for example, 30 seconds of high intensity repetitions, 30 seconds of rest). Complete for 20-30 minutes twice a week.
For active rest days add in one or two low-intensity cardio activities such as walking or biking for 45-60 minutes a session. Don’t know if an activity is low intensity? Use the talk test. If you can carry on a conversation with a person next to you without gasping, it’s a low intensity workout.