For all the exercises tested, Francis also found that the positive contraction (on the way up) evoked more muscular work than did the negative contraction (on the way down). And whereas some people are obsessed with keeping their hip flexors out of the exercise, Francis found this to be an anatomical impossibility. “The hip flexors, obliques and abs are synergistic— they work as a team and you cannot successfully use one without using the others,” he states.
Although they are technically separate muscle groups, your abdominals work together to support your body and enable you to run, jump, or participate in a sport. With that in mind, try a new approach to wholistic abdominal training: Instead of focusing on which exercise works which part, concentrate instead on developing all your abdominals thoroughly to ensure good posture and balance, and to better procure that killer midsection.
Crunch & Munch
And remember: You can crunch and crunch until the cows come home, but if you’re still eating like one, you’ll never see the fruits of your labor. Reduction of body fat is the only way to uncover that hidden six-pack. Eat a low- calorie diet that includes lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and fruits and veggies. High-protein/low-carbhohydrate diets work best for fat loss and preservation of lean body mass. Combine your healthy diet with high-intensity cardiovascular activity seven days a week and the excavation of your abs will be underway. Shoot for 60 minutes of cardio inside, outside or on any piece of equipment. Try to stay in your target heart rate range for the majority of the session to best enable your body to utilize fat as fuel, and reveal that six-pack of your dreams. So, what are you waiting for? Get to work sculpting your stomach, practice your acting, and give Wahlberg a run for his money!
Plan of Attack
The Time Cruncher: Choose three to five of the exercises described, and perform them in a circuit manner. Execute 10-20 controlled repetitions for each exercise, doing one right after the other with no rest. Repeat the circuit two to three times. Nonstop circuits such as these should be performed no more than three times a week, with a minimum of 48 hours rest between sessions.
The Slow and Steady: If you prefer to train abs every day, choose one of the listed exercises and perform three or four sets of 15-30 slow, controlled repetitions per session. Choose a different exercise for each day you train, always using impeccable form and remembering to breathe.
Although you may be tempted to utilize only the top three in your routine, Francis warns against this. “Changing your exercises around and utilizing different strategies will best train your total abdominal region,” he says. “Beginners especially should work their way into the top three, as they proved difficult even for our more advanced participants.”
No matter which plan you choose to sculpt that stomach, use a count of four to elevate and a count of two to descend to elicit the most muscular activity possible.