Building Firmer Abs
What you can do to achieve the American dream of a six-pack
set of abdominal muscles.
You’ve been doing sit-ups and crunches for the past three decades, and they’re just not doing the trick any more. So what can you do to get back your six-pack today? You’re about to find out.
Lose the First Layer
- You may have heard the notion that a killer set of abdominal muscles is hiding
just out of sight, tucked away neatly behind a layer of fat on your
stomach. In case you thought this was a quack idea dreamed up by people
who wanted an excuse for their beer bellies, you may be surprised to find
out this claim is true.
- Before you can firm up your abs, you have to get rid of
that first little layer of flab. Of course, you can do thousands of
sit-ups and relish the knowledge that a fabulous six-pack rests beneath a
protective shield of fat, but wouldn’t you rather show off the abs you’re
working so hard to accomplish? To do this, you’ll need to either reduce
the calories you eat or burn off more calories each day. Regardless, a
full-body workout is the only way to lose weight and begin to see your
rock-hard abdominal muscles peak out.
- Get on the Ball
To help your abs get the biggest impact without too
much extra effort, try taking your workout on top of an exercise ball. As
any exercise on a ball requires additional balance, you’ll strengthen your
core and your abs during any exercise.
In addition to sit-ups and other abdominal-specific exercises on the ball, do any other exercise activities you can think of using your exercise ball. To get a good work out when you’re not working out, keep an exercise ball at your office desk. Every other hour, swap
your regular desk chair for your exercise ball. Getting used to sitting on an oversized bouncy ball will take some time, but the effort will be well worth it, as your abdominals reap the tight, muscular rewards.
- Keep Them Off Balance
- Want those regular old abs to turn into washboards that
could be used for cleaning clothes if needed? You’re not going to get
there if you only push your abs with one or two specific exercises. In
order to drive your abs to their muscular limit, add plenty of variety
into your abdominal routine.
- Since you may not know many abdominal exercises beyond
the traditional sit-ups and crunches, consult a personal trainer to learn
what unique exercises you could perform to get maximum performance out of
your abs. A few good exercises to help your abs shape up include a Pilates
zip-up, canoe twist, and cat kick*. Sound fun? Then what are you waiting
for? Stronger, better-looking abs await!
- Odd Names, Great Results
- Not sure whether you want to get involved in exercises
with strange names, such as the canoe twist? Fortunately, you can learn
the movements at home, so you don’t have to ask the fitness pro at the gym
about the cat kick. Here are three abdominal exercises that will give your
midsection a solid, ripped appearance. And unlike the ab-enhancing work
out you’re use to, these all take place while you’re planted firmly on
- Pilates Zip-Up – To perform this exercise, stand straight with your heels touching, your toes turned outward just a bit. Raise your arms up beneath your chin, as if you are about to row a boat. Press your arms directly down, hands and arms remaining very close to your body, and breathe out. At the same time,
raise yourself up until you’re standing on your toes. Hold the position
for a couple seconds and return to your starting position, repeating 20
- Canoe Twist – With your feet apart, interlace your fingers into a tight grip. Pretending you’re standing in a canoe, swing your hands, arms, shoulders, and chest to the right in order to row your imaginary canoe. At the same time, raise
your right knee up and toward the left. Inhale, go back to your starting
position, exhale, and perform the rowing movement on the other side. Give
each side 20 repetitions.
- Cat Kick – When you want to perform this well-named exercise, put your feet together and extend your arms out on either side, as if trying to make a perfect
“T” with your body. As you breathe out, lift your left leg up and forward, while rotating your arms forward (keeping them level with your shoulders) until you wind up in a cat-like position. If done right, you’ll feel as if your belly button is nearly touching your spine. Slowly return to the starting position, swap sides, and perform 20 times on each side.