Before diving into the exercises, it is important to note that obtaining abs is one hundred percent diet dependent. You can train abs perfectly and yet see no results because you’re burying your hard work in layers of ice cream, chocolate and pastries.
Don’t be that girl. Dial in your diet first and then focus on correct ab training. Time spent prepping healthy meals and shopping is vastly more important then your twice a week crunch marathons. Put your time into pursuits that will generate the most return on your investment.
But enough diet talk! Here are the only two exercises you need for athletic and sexy abs!
1. The Stomach Vacuum
The stomach vacuum is the most underrated abdominal exercise in existence. This is because it does what no other exercise can; it actually shrinks the size of your waist. By sucking in your stomach, you are forced to contract you inner-abdominal muscles.
By strengthening these muscles, you cinch in your abs. This prevents your stomach from needlessly protruding, and will give you that flat stomach you have always wanted.
Besides making you look better naked, the stomach vacuum has some athletic carryover as it trains the deep inner abs. These muscles, known as the transverse abdominus and the lumbar multifidus, help support your spine and aid in the deep breathing that is used to generate power.
Stomach vacuums can be done standing, on all fours or while laying with your back to the ground. For beginners, the laying down variation is ideal because it provides back support. Over time, try to progress to the all fours position, increasing the time of contraction as you go.
2. The Plank
The good old fashioned plank has become one of the most popular ab exercises for good reason; it works. By creating an isometric contraction, the rectus abdominal and obliques are forced to hold your body up. This serves the main purpose of the abdominal muscles, which is to support your body during movement.
The only problem with the plank is how people use it as an endurance exercise. Planking for five minutes is great to brag about, but does it have any athletic carryover? Can you imagine any sort of sport or activity that requires constant abdominal tension for that length of time?
Additionally, when planking for five minutes, the abs are not being maximally contracted for the entire time. The stress is placed on the tendons and ligaments rather than the core. The correct way to use the plank involves maximally contracting your abs for much shorter periods of time, up to about fifteen seconds. If you can contract for longer then fifteen seconds…you are not contracting hard enough.
This style of plank builds your ability to generate tension in your core, which aids the body in force generation. Imagine trying to jump without an intense contraction in your core. Its simply not going to happen. Through planks this contraction can be strengthened, improving your jumping, sprinting, squatting etc.
Another plank benefit is it does not cause growth to your abs and obliques, unlike weighted abdominal exercises. Increasing the size of your abs and obliques will ruin a small, tight waist and give you that ripped CrossFit look. Unless you are going for that, in which case grab a forty five pound plate and get “AMRAP”.
Putting It All Together
An ab training program that includes both these exercises would look something like this.
Planks: Four sets of 10 second contractions, squeezing the abs, glutes and quads as hard as possible. Feel free to alternate between planks and vacuums to save time.
Stomach Vacuums: Unlike the plank, this is not a maximal tension exercise, so the length of contraction are much longer. Shoot for three to four sets of the longest contractions possible, starting with whatever you can do.
Continue To The Next Page For 100 Plank Variations!