Abs are one of the most frustrating topics to bring up for they remind us of broken New Year’s promises, beach days where we avoided the camera and nights we squirmed in our too-tight body hugging numbers wondering if we should’ve just gone for that band tee.
We have to understand our abs to know what’s good for them, putting in effort and caring for your looks is not a bad thing but it is just not enough. Effort in ab workouts can’t be directionless, the as-long-as-it-stings/sweats system. You don’t hear a person with chiseled abs saying that they do just do a lot of crunches or isolated, heavy-weighted stuff on ab machines, that’s what usually infomercials say. Chiseled abs that don’t come from steroids or supplement overload come from high intensitiy workouts and a combination of different workouts.
It’s a loving relationship, a strenuous commitment and deep one-one-one conversation (meaning bothering to actually search up today’s wonderful ab workout recipes on Google or YouTube, and also checking out nearby gyms). We need to work very hard for abs because it actually takes the whole body to create abs rather than isolating the midsection. Genetics will always play a role but your workout discipline will play a bigger one. Crunches even hurt your back too much and don’t pen up your lungs and joints so much.
To get the best physical power and aesthetic out of any muscle group in your body, ESPECIALLY your abs, you have to work every muscle and every muscle helps perfect everything out faster. Even the smaller, finer muscles needing finer, softer exercise movements. Lazier, half-assed, isolating workouts wherein you are reluctant in exerting too much effort in fear of injuring yourself right away or just the fear of working really hard. Everyone is meant to work out, everyone is meant to be healthy and acceptably fit. Even with our own different shapes, sizes and genetic makeup
We all now know more not to go for the easiest exercises, usually 10-20 repetitions of anything is ideal. Around 5 repetitions is required for extremely strenuous activities like dead lifting. Fewer but more challenged repetitions are better than faster, easier ones in a higher quantities.
Everything starts with breathing exercises, steady and deep to train you to breathe harmoniously throughout your day- not just for workouts.
Of course the initial pain comes with the breaking in of our joints and muscles when we’re starting out but there is improper pain that doesn’t make your body parts feel well circulated even in the long run. The wrong physical regimens can lead to these unnecessary aches and injuries like back pain and a poorly-stretched groups of gut muscles.
In this article we’ll give out useful advice and point out some common errors on what exercises are safe and effective for our ab strength and aesthetics.
Tips for your core #1: It all begins with breathing and good posture.
It all starts with caring for your lungs and minding your breathing. Let’s first point out the obvious and all agree that you gotta breathe properly. Consistent, efficient breathing with a straight yet relaxed posture in everyday life will surely spread more oxygen to your body, keep you more alert and of definitely extends your life. A strong, proper posture is exercise in itself and makes you look and feel more confident. The proper posture taken into habit strengthens your back, is better for your behind, opens up your chest and consistent, efficient breathing comes hand in hand. Instinctively we take into action different breathing paces depending on the exercise but take note of consistency, adjust your breathing and the depth of breath according to the intensity and timing of your exercise. Teach yourself to adjust your breathing according to your workout type and stick to it and it’s a wondrous thing what proper breathing can do to your circulation, ab aesthetics and core strength. Breathing and posture is so basic yet crucial and we a mediocre workout regimen usually springs from laziness or lack of mindfulness when it comes to air intake and locking in the right bones to intensify the exercise.
Here is a tip for breathing using heavy weights: go for more massive, slow breaths right before starting up one repetition and then you hold your breath, then finally breathing out through your nose and mouth fast right when you’re finishing the rep. Remember that holding your breath momentarily with heavier weights is also an important part to prevent losing control over the weight and greatly improve spinal stability. Combined with the right posture imagine a solid ball of air in your diaphragm and gut acting as an internal cushion to avoid injury.
When running or sprinting, a more pulsed, faster pace is required for stability especially when your foot hits the ground. Starting your run with an inhale is usual then an exhale when a foot lands, another inhale when the other foot propels the body again. Save the slow breathing for the slow activities, adjust adjust adjust! Your breathing pulse must stick to the pace of your feet and must match it whenever the speed is switched up. This has a similar effect in sparring where you adjust your breathing to your fast movements and try to keep a steady rhythm as much as possible to avoid injury and improve endurance as well as lung power.
For slower activities without heavy weight and more stretching like yoga, Tai Chi, walking, mild hiking, etc. slower and deeper is the way to go. A great opportunity to mediate and open up your chest and stomach muscles lie in these activities. Very important to breathe as long and deep as you could while stretching gently with some challenge always. Pushing the walls of your limits bit by bit each day with stretching is great for your physique and circulation. High-intensity stretch activities can encourage you to go for more brutal workouts to throw in the mix eventually.
Tips for your core #2: Your own waves of tension.
Brace yourselves! Literally. We discussed posture, breathing and earlier in the intro that every muscle must team up to get perfect abs. Your butt or rectus abdominus is a major team player but remember to work everything out. If you just isolate tension in your midsection you are asking for a world of pain later on when you exert more effort. Your shoulders, arms, legs, butt, back, nape are all required to support your gut throughout not just your workouts but your life.
So many people are traumatized from exercise, developing their own paranoia because they didn’t take number 1 and 2 into mind. The rhythmic cycles of adjusting your posture, knowing proper breathing exercises and tensing up your muscles accordingly prevent almost all injuries from workouts. Taking time for your body to align with your goals has better, faster, less painful results. Create tension, it’s important to learn this kind of tension. It works out all the little muscles we keep talking about so much. We have to develop every muscle fairly, and whole body workouts with these tips really work!
Here is a good example of tension exercise with this simple, everyday exercise: from wherever you are, home or office just sit up very straight with your spine slightly curved to stretch out the ribs, spine and pelvis further. Remember to breathe deeply and fill your stomach with air first not just stopping at your lungs, perforating your chest instead. Your guts have to fully expand and compress from breathing as in and as out as you can with your hands placed on your back. Stretch your arms far back, also stretching your shoulders, with your hands flat against your back, stretching your wrists as well. When you breathe in and out with your hands on your back remember to feel your body, your muscles on your hand. Observe how they move and contract, your ribs slowly caving in and then out, expanding its muscle power. Also feel your shoulders pop or crack a bit. Your lower back will lastly be the one to loosen up. Stay still except for the parts you need to move to breathe, this is where the practice of isolated tension comes in that will safely and gently benefit in strengthening your ab muscles.
See how such a simple and easy peasy stretch works out so many parts that probably need some stretching or have even undergone injuries. You guys are getting the idea right? And exercising like this, rhythmic and gentle mixed with harder exercise.
Tips for your core #3: Talkin’ bout butts.
One of the MVP’s in ab results, and a great butt also greatly helped by ab workouts. Isn’t that nice to have those two hand in hand? Flexing your glutes, your rectus abdominis in your activities will turn up the heat and bring in the burn. It makes it more difficult at first but you feel better, you just feel it’s right because your entire torso gets worked out.
Glute tension does the good cause of hip extension which feels like one of the greatest reliefs by the way, but also causes a small kind of wobble and rotate movement called a posterior tilt. This is crucial in full body health, stretching the lowest part of the midsection connecting the upper and lower body.
When you work out properly, from the breath to the tension in your glutes it feels like a good burn. Take a plank for example, with your arms spaced out as far as your shoulders, body straight as possible with the butt not lifting and the abdomen not giving in and bending down. Tensing your glutes and releasing with every breath is like starting a match from the base of your spine to your nape, meaning it’s a good searing burn opening up your spine and arteries.
Don’t forget to squeeze in your armpits and tense your arm muscles as well with planking. Alsp comes to no surprise that squats for both sexes work to well, yes I know it seems daunting but with weights it will make you look better in a few weeks only.
Tips for your core #4: Combine mobility when stretching, to simply maximize mobility.
We keep going off about discouraging doing regimens that are isolation-based because mobility is better for any body type and body part. Increase of mobility leads to increase of stability which leads to stimulating the muscle more, activating more potential. As we discussed, a series of planks and intensive stretches activate ab development.
10-15 seconds of each kind of plank position is ideal, there are so many tutorials online or in gyms you just have to pick one or two, what’s important is you change up your exercise while maintaining around the same amount of intensity and variation.
Tips for your core #5: Gradually speed up basic exercises while maintaining tension.
Now that we’re ascending through our tips on starting out great ab workouts, keep in mind one has to breathe properly, maintain proper posture, tense muscles according to the workout to work your way up to getting faster and faster while still keeping that steady pace and tenseness in the muscles.
Speed won’t matter if everything else is not in place. Effort needs thought and direction, to impress people with how fast you can work with your repetitions whether be it deadlifting, sprint running, squats, bicep and tricep weights, intense yoga everything you do has to be complete and well done.
Don’t worry. Start out at your own pace of course. It’s a competition with yourself silly, no one else. You will eventually work up the core strength to be faster, more agile, more powerful and more confident.
Remember to have fun working out, it shouldn’t feel like a plain bore of a chore.