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Upping the Appeal of Abdominal Training
For most of you, getting a set of six pack abs is going to be a priority during your workout. But, the actual abdominal training itself proves to be somewhat less interesting and something you’d rather by pass altogether.
In some instances, you might save your abdominal training for last during your workout, which is a good thing as this is when it should be performed, but by the time you do finally get to it, you’re too tired and beat up from the previous lifts you performed that you opt to just bypass it altogether and head for the shower.
Luckily, this actually may not have that significant of an effect on how well your actual abs show through since that is largely dependent on body fat levels which comes more from a proper diet and weight lifting program.
But, on the flip side, having a strong core is important for a number of other reasons such as injury prevention, maximizing the amount of weight you are able to lift in all your other weight lifting exercises, as well as improving your posture, which really ups your portrayal of confidence.
Therefore, trying to avoid bypassing your abdominal workout is important. By taking steps to up the interest factor in the exercises you perform though, it should help you stay on track easier and you might even begin to look forward to this aspect of your training program.
Here are some things to consider.
Don’t Believe Ab Work Has To Mean Crunches
Many people make the mistake of thinking that abdominal exercises need to be performed through some variation of the crunch. This isn’t true at all and many times, it’s actually movements that are furthest from the crunch that give you the best workout.
Plank With Alternating Leg Lift
For example, one exercise you can perform that will work the whole entire core as well as the muscles in the upper body effectively is a plank where you alternate between lifting one leg and the opposite hand off the ground.
To do this movement, you basically get into a plank position, and then slowly lift one leg off the floor while simultaneously lifting the opposite hand off the ground as well.
Since this will reduce your base of support while performing the movement, you really target the muscle fibers deep within the abdominal area.
Try and hold with the leg raised for about 20 seconds, move back into the traditional plank position, and then do the same thing on the other side to round out the one minute interval.
One Leg Squats On a Bosu Ball
Another great way to really work on your agility and balance while working the abs is to perform one leg squats on a bosu ball. Before doing so it is important that you are able to perform regular squats on the bosu ball, so be sure you master this first.
Once you’re ready, place an object where you can slightly hold on to while you practice the one leg squat, going as far down as you possibly can.
This will also work the glute and quad muscles as well, so it can be performed on days when you are doing a lower body workout as well.
Bosu Plank Tilt
Finally, a third exercise to consider while using a bosu ball is the plank tilt. Again, building off the plank exercise, to perform this one you flip the bosu ball over (the ball should now be touching the floor). From there, you place both hands on it, keeping elbows straight with feet extended behind you.
Slowly begin to tilt from side to side as you progress through the movement, performing this for up to one minute before resting and completing another set.
If you really wanted to up the ante on this exercise, then do the same thing, only after tilting to one side, pause when you’re at the midway point (balanced over your center), perform one push-up, and then begin tilting to the other side.
Add Weights To Your Ab Workouts
Another thing that many people overlook is the fact that you can also add weights to your abdominal workout. So many individuals will just perform variations of standard weightless exercises – leg raises, exercise ball crunches, bicycles, and so on, which is good, variety is key, but in order to really make the core muscles stronger, weights should be used.
The abdominal muscles are just like any other muscle in the body and will respond best to a load placed upon them as a stimulus. You wouldn’t try and build a really strong chest with just push-ups alone, so if you’re goal is maximum strength in your core, adding weights is definitely a smart move.
Here are a few exercises that you can easily incorporate weights into.
Decline Weighted Sit-Ups
Decline weighted sit-ups are an excellent exercise to perform because you will force yourself to use a greater range of motion due to the decline, thus working the muscle fibers to a greater extent.
Just do watch when doing so that you focus on using just the abs to move the body upwards during the crunch without relying too heavily on the hip flexors or quads (which can easily be used when your feet are hooked under a pad).
Weighted Russian Twist on an Exercise Ball
To perform a weighted Russian twist on an exercise ball you simply lie across the exercise ball as you would if you were going to do a standard exercise ball crunch. Then, while holding a dumbbell directly above you, elbows extended, you twist to one side as far as you can go (arms stay straight while moving to the side of the body). Pause for a second once you’re as far over as you can go, and then twist back up to the top and then the other side once again.
Since this exercise really increases the range of motion due to the fact your arms are extended above you, it will really call those abs into play.
Medicine Ball Pass-Off
Finally, the last exercise you should consider doing to work the core muscles with weights is a medicine ball pass off. This is done by standing back to back with a partner, you holding one weighted medicine ball.
You are then to turn to your side, while your partner does the same, pass the ball over to them, after which you both swing around so they can pass it back to you on the other side of the body.
Consider Taking a Yoga or Pilates Class
Finally, one last thing that many people overlook which is actually a terrific core workout is yoga or pilates. If you get into the right type of class (one which is focused on strength, rather than pure flexibility or relaxation), you will do a lot of different movements that you likely haven’t done before, thus since your body isn’t used to them, they will really work the muscles hard.
Many men in particular do tend to shy away from these classes, thinking they are more targeted towards women. This is understandable, but if you can, try and find a private or semi-private class to do every once in a while, or at least to learn the basic exercises so you can then perform them yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Not only does yoga and pilates really work the core, but it also does provide relaxation and stress reduction benefits, which can go a long way towards helping promote muscle growth as well.
Man of the core exercises you will do in these classes are going to be very dynamic in nature, that is you will be moving the entire body through various positions, making it as much of a bodyweight strengthening class as a pure abdominal workout.
You will want to keep up your usual weight lifting program though as that will be much more beneficial as far as adding pure muscle mass is concerned, but incorporating some of these movements in on a regular basis will definitely give you a well rounded approach to your training.
So, be sure you keep these points in mind as you try and increase the interest level in completing your abdominal workouts. Always bear in mind that the more often you are changing exercises around, the better results you are going to achieve as well because the abs are such a highly adaptable muscle group.
You never want to be doing the same exercise for weeks in a row as that’s a fast way to really short the results you see and become bored quickly.
By keeping up on new abdominal exercises coming out and interchanging them into your program, you will see better results which in itself will also motivate you to keep going.
When designing your abdominal workout you should be aiming to perform 2-4 different types of exercises, all performed for 2-4 sets each.
For most movements if you are doing 10-15 reps you are right on target, with a few requiring more or less depending on the nature of the movement (for instance with the plank you’d only do 3-4 reps total, each lasting for 30-60 seconds in total duration).
As you go about designing your abdominal workouts you will likely also learn what your body responds best to as well, helping you form a workout program that will help you get the results you’re looking for.
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