I get this question all of the time... What is a good abdominal exercise that will trim my middle and lead to a six-pack?
Anyone interested in fitness wants to have a great looking mid-section - firm, rippled and well-toned, along with a trim waist. These things are possible, but great abs from all of the best abdominal exercises in the world won't help if those abdominals are covered by a layer of fat.
As you exercise, you consume energy measured in calories. When you burn enough calories to deplete the available energy, and enough to reduce the sugars that convert easily, your body will then use stored energy. That stored energy is largely in the form of fat deposits in adipose tissue.
But that process takes place non-selectively. You don't get to prioritize which fat deposits the body converts. That means, you can't get rid of the fat around your middel or 'spot reduce' by working on your abs. The effect is still achievable, but doing good abdominal exercises alone doesn't target that fat.
When you focus on the abs, you will build strength in that area, by increasing the mass in those particular muscles. This is going to help for a number of reasons. It keeps a firm, strong layer of muscle which helps keep the stomach and other internal organs well inside the plane defined by your hips. You get a nice trim, flat look.
Good abdominal exercise can help in another way, too. Since the abdominals are large muscles, they consume a proportionately larger percentage of energy than, say, your jaw muscles. That means that as you work them, they have to be supplied with more energy to move through the range of the exercise. That burns many calories, resulting in weight loss and fat reduction.
There is no gadget, supplement or drug currently on the market that will safely substitute for good nutrution and exercise. It can only be done through proper diet and regular, moderate to heavy exercise. There's no shortcut to a trim waist, at least not yet.
The effect is also limited by genetics and age. Some people store more fat around the middle more readily than others. Gender, obviously, makes a difference as well.
Many women in their 40s will naturally develop a pouch in the lower abdomen as their hormones change. Many men will naturally develop 'love handles' at the side, since they store fat in adipose tissue there more readily in their 40s than they did in their 20s.
In order to lose the fat deposits and build the right muscles you have to approach muscle fatigue. If you are able to do 100 crunches, you aren't necessarily doing a good abdominal exercise. For crunches done correctly, 20 reps is enough. You don't even have to go to the gym. You can do pelvic tilts while sitting in a chair in the office.
For a good abdominal exercise, warm up and try the following:
Lie on your back, with your knees raised and fold your arms across your chest. Then lift your shoulders off the floor and hold for 30 seconds. You can feel the effect on your abs already. To make the exercise more difficult, put your hands at the side of your head. Don't use your hands to lift your head, just keep them still. For maximum effort, put your hands above your head, then perform the same shoulder lift and hold, focusing on the abs.
Feel the burn. Repeat daily for 10 minutes or twenty reps. In a few weeks, you'll see definite results.
For more good abdominal exercises see for a good abdominal exercise.
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