EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ABS

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How do you develop abs? And quickly? If you want a flat stomach, it's not enough to focus on a six pack etc. Explanations given in this article.

 

Doing abs exercises to get a flat stomach, is all well and good, as long as you follow the correct method! You'll understand why when you read the advice from Florent, our body-building expert.

 

What are the abs for?

Before considering the aesthetics of the abs, let's examine them from a medical point of view. The anterolateral abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominus, the internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominus) play a key role in stabilising the pelvis and vertebral column and aiding posture. They're also needed for everyday movements and, in particular, help you rotate and lean backwards and forwards. As I'm sure you've now realised, these muscles are essential for absolutely everything!

 

How can you get abs fast?

Some people are ready to do anything for a flat and firm stomach. Sometimes they sweat away, performing sets of ab exercises, convinced that this is essential for achieving the famous six-pack. Wrong ...to have clearly defined abs, you need to follow the basic rules outlined below.

 

Work on posture

For an attractive, toned and well-defined figure you need to ensure you work both the abdominal and back muscles equally. As well as classic strengthening exercises, you need to ensure you:

 

  • vary the exercises (equipment, variations etc.)

  • take time to recover

  • vary the structure of the workout (circuit etc.)

  • to continue to make progress, you need to move things up to the next level; in other words, increase the duration of the exercises or alter the equipment.

 

To avoid back problems (backache, lumbago, hernia, disc problems etc.), your core needs to be toned and well-balanced. Your anterior chain muscles (abdominals) and lats (obliques) also need to be strong, as does your lumbar region (quadratus lumborum, lumbar spine etc.)

 

 

Adopting a healthy lifestyle

In order for your abs to be visible, you need to have some muscle mass and tone. But that's not all; to achieve a flat stomach you also need to have low levels of body fat (less than 10% for men and less than 16% for women).

To achieve this, you need to keep two things in mind:

 

  • a balanced diet over the long term (good eating habits)

  • regular cardio activity (at least twice a week). There's nothing like the exercise bike or treadmill for maintaining fitness, improving cardiovascular health and lung capacity, and burning calories!

 

How do you work your abs?

To make your abs more defined, you need to work on different skill areas (stability and instability) and at different levels of difficulty. In order to progress, you need to increase the length of sets or the weights used, then move on to the next level.

 

  • Basic level: floor-based abdominal exercises (chest raises, core stability etc.)

  • High level balance exercises: abdominal stability exercises with a gym ball, DST, Abdo Gain or a Gain Trainer.

  • High level stable-based exercises: abdominal work using high pulleys and pull-up bars etc.

 

What muscle strengthening equipment should you choose to work your abs?

 

Beginner level

Rocking devices

When you start doing abdominal exercises and particularly dynamic exercises (with raised chest), you have the option of using rocking-type devices which guide your movement and help you maintain the correct position during the exercise. They often comprise a foam head rest to relieve strain on the neck. The device is positioned on the ground and the feet are left free. The move is performed by using momentum generated by your arms which helps lift your chest. Choose, for example the AB 110 for beginners. For more regular use, choose the AB 220 or AB 350.

 

Intermediate and advanced level

 

Abdominal planks

To increase the range of movement for these basic exercises and to work the abdominals more deeply, the experienced exerciser can use an abs bench. When using the abs bench, the exercise is performed by lifting the chest. The feet are held under foam rollers to ensure stability and safety during the exercise. You can adjust the operating angle (height of rollers, incline of feet) to make the exercise more difficult.

 

Stability control accessories

Other training devices will help you strengthen the deep abdominals, using proprioceptive exercises. You can try, for example, the Gym Ball, Domyos Strap Training, Abdo Gain or the Gain Trainer. These fitness accessories are particularly effective as they introduce an element of instability which forces you to engage your stabilising muscles as well the muscles that are being directly targeted. By challenging a range of muscles they provide an excellent deep muscle workout:

 

  • the muscles which are directly targeted include, for example, the pecs, the triceps etc.

  • and the abdominal wall, which is directly challenged to help maintain a static posture and a solid core. Keep your abs permanently engaged to maintain balance and protect your back.

  • the postural muscles which are required to support and protect the vertebral column, (paravertebral muscles, rhomboids, scapular, rear deltoids etc.).

 

 

 

As I'm sure you've gathered, to obtain abs of steel, it's not enough to merely perform sets of exercises. A healthy lifestyle and a balanced exercise programme, working the abdo-lumbar region will help you regain a flat stomach and well-defined abs.

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