Workouts, healthy recipes, motivation, tips, and advice all right to your inbox! Subscribe to Tone-and-Tighten.com RIGHT HERE and get our FREE “Beginner’s Guide To Weight Loss” ebook!
“Which ab exercises are the best?”
“I’m working my abs but I’m not seeing any results.”
“I’m doing all these sit-ups and nothing seems to be changing.”
One body area that I get asked about more than any other is the abs. People seem to want to know “How do I tone my abs” and “Why isn’t my workout very effective?”
I would say the biggest mistake that people make when it’s “ab day” is not adding enough variety to your exercises to make it effective.
Think about it – most of the ab exercises we do are essentially the same motion working the same muscles.
The amazing thing about our abs is how dynamic they are. They’re designed to move our trunk three-dimensionally and unless you’re challenging these muscles in three dimensions you’re really missing out on what could be incredible gains in strength and definition.
That’s why today I wanted to share with you three ab exercises that are a waste of your time and give you some different alternatives to do instead!
Okay – before we get too far into this indulge me while I give you a brief anatomy lesson (hey – I’m a physical therapist… it’s what we do!).
Your “abs” are made up of four muscles and about three layers…
1. Rectus Abdominis – the most superficial layer; this is the “six-pack” muscle that goes from your ribs to your pelvis. It is our most-superficial ab layer and it’s primary motion is trunk flexion (bringing our chest towards our legs.
2. External and 3. Internal Obliques – these muscles are on your sides, basically from your ribs to your hips on one angle (external) and your ribs to your hips on another angle (internal). External obliques are superficial while internal sit right under the external. Their primary motions rotate and also sidebend our torso.
4. Transverse Abdominis – your deepest abdominal muscle – it wraps from your lower back around to the front of your abdominal wall and sits under your Rectus Abdominis and Obliques. This is the “suck it in” muscles – it pulls your belly button into your spine.
Given this anatomy lesson – let’s talk about the three ab exercises that are probably consuming most of your time that you could actually improve upon…
PUSH PLAY ON THE VIDEO BELOW TO SEE THE EXERCISES THAT ARE WASTING YOUR TIME AND WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING INSTEAD!
AB EXERCISES TO GET RID OF
SIT UPS, CRUNCHES, and (to an extent) PLANKS focus primarily on the rectus abdominis muscle. This is the prime mover throughout these motions of bringing your chest towards your knees.
Sit ups and crunches are essentially different phases of the same motion. The work different parts of the rectus abdiminis muscles, just through slightly different ranges of motion.
Planks I actually love and do quite often with people in my clinic. The primary muscle active during a plank is the rectus abdominis muscle, but they can be modified to be more effective.
HOWEVER I don’t think that enough of us push ourselves hard enough when performing planks. If you can hold a plank for 30+ seconds it’s time to re-evaluate and come up with something better.
REPLACE THEM WTH
- Lay on your back with your hands behind your head
- “Hover” your feet above the ground (try not to let them touch the ground)
- Pull your left knee up towards your right shoulder while bringing your right elbow down to touch your left knee
- Return to starting position and then repeat with right knee / left elbow
- 3 sets of 10 touches to each side
LATERAL REVERSE CRUNCHES
- Sit laterally on a bench, slightly reclined with your legs out straight
- Rotate slightly onto your left hip by dropping both of your feet over to the left
- Pull your knees up into your chest while rotating to your right
- Push your knees out straight again while rotating to your right so you end up on your right hip
- 3 sets of 10 to each side (20 reps total per set)
PLANK WITH MARCH OR TWO-POINT PLANK
- Get down into a low plank position on your elbows and toes
- Keep your core tight and extend your straight left leg until your toes leave the floor
- Return your left leg back down and repeat on the right
- 3 sets of 10 marches
- (Two-point plank = extend your left arm out straight in front of you while your right leg is elevated. Two-point planks are harder, but a great exercise if you can do them!)
Stop wasting your time with sit ups, crunches, and holding planks for minutes on end.
There are more-effective exercises you can be doing – like the ones presented here in this post!
If you’re looking to take you ab game to the next level these are a couple of my favorite workouts to do just that..
Of course we all know that “abs are made in the kitchen”. In order to see the results you’re after proper nutrition is a must.
Sadly, not all of us know how to best feed our bodies for weight loss and muscle growth.
Well you’re in luck! Here on Tone-and-TIghten.com we provide healthy-eating menu plans that are the perfect way to supplement your workouts. Check out some of our popular menu plans by clicking on the image below!
Stop wasting your time doing exercises that work only one muscle in one specific motion.
To see the gains you’re after start thinking three dimensionally and the results will follow!
Until next time…
Make it happen,