Rock your Core
Ab exercises alone won’t carve out your dream six-pack
Let’s get this out of the way. There’s a saying in the fitness community that “ Six packs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” That’s an oversimplification, but it’s mostly true. The fact is we all have abdominal muscles; it’s just that most of us can’t see them under that lil’ bit of extra padding. If you really want to expose those deep cuts that separate the muscles, you’ve got to burn off the fat.
You might think 1,000 crunches a day is the key to burning that fat off. But it’s not. While it won’t hurt, doing 1,000 crunches is not the best cardio. To burn fat you need to create a caloric deficit. In other words, you need to use up more calories than you consume so that your body is forced to burn the excess calories you have stored as fat. Eat right and exercise. While diet is arguably the most important factor, there is one other thing you can do (that’s right, just one): you can make your abs bigger. Looks aside, there are many functional benefits to bulking up your abdominals. As with any other muscle group, size equals power. Having a more powerful core will help align your posture and reduce fatigue in repetitious physical tasks, and it can go a long way towards reducing injuries, especially to your lower back. Larger, more powerful muscles also tend to atrophy slower. In other words, you retain the benefits longer, generally speaking. And muscle burns calories, so the more muscle you have, the more efficient you are at burning fat and keeping it off.
In a study led by Peter Francis, PhD, researchers compared the effectiveness of 13 most common abdominal exercises. They used electromyography (EMG) equipment to monitor each participant’s muscle activity as they exercised. As a baseline comparison, they used the traditional crunch.
The top three exercises focus on different areas of your abdominal muscles, which means you can combine all three into one powerful ab workout.
- Bicycle Crunches (248%)
- Supported Knee Raises (212%)
- Stability Exercise Ball Crunch (139%)
Do one round of all three exercises without any rest in between. Once you finish one round, immediately go for another. Repeat 2 to 4 times