A study of 30 healthy women and men, ages 20-45, sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and led by Peter Francis, Ph.D., at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University, compared 13 of the most common abdominal exercises and ranked them from most to least effective. Overall, the best exercise for strengthening the rectus abdominus, which includes the long flat muscles extending along the front and sides of the abdomen, is the bicycle Kick.
As we all know, a strong abdominal muscles means a stronger back and more powerful overall physique. The function of the abdominals is spine or lumbar flexion. The origin of the abdominals originates on the pubis crest. The insertion of the rectus abdominis is onto the ribs(5th, 6th, and 7th) as well as onto the Xipoid Process. There are many exercises which train the abdominals, this muscle group contains many slow twitch muscle fibres and training depends on the purpose of the training program.
How to Do It
Lie on your back on a mat or padded carpet with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press your lower back into the floor, engaging your abdominal muscles, as you put both hands behind your head (don’t pull on your head). Bring your right elbow over to your left knee, and then bring your left elbow over to your right knee in a twisting, bicycle pedal motion. Continue to breathe naturally. Alternate opposite elbow to opposite knee with hands interlaced behind your head in a slow and controlled manner and with full extension of each leg on every repetition.
Breathe naturally and do not hold your breath at any time during this exercise, extend your legs fully to increase intensity and perform the motion very slowly. Keep your knees bent throughout the movement, while you tap your feet to the floor (instead of extending your leg straight out), to decrease intensity. Repeat to muscle fatigue.
Goal: Two sets of 20-30 repetitions
Unless you’re already lean, just doing sit-ups, bike kicks or any abdominal exercises will have no effect at all on the reduction of body fat. While most people are well aware of the need for a healthy eating regimen, a regular aerobic workout and an ab/core routine, many exercise enthusiasts may not realize the importance of good posture and stress reduction techniques.
Stress increases the production of insulin (the fat storage hormone) and cortisol, which is associated with increased appetite and increased fat deposits, typically around the trunk and abdomen. The effects of cortisol can be combated by meditation. When you do relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation, a hormone known as DHEA is released. This hormone reduces blood cortisol levels and fights against the negative effects of stress.
If you’re constantly slouching and not standing up straight, you’ll have that pot-belly appearance. Good posture promotes a taller, leaner and more youthful look.
The Flat Abs Checklist
- Eat Right: Find a nutritional program that works for you and stick to it.
- Exercise: Three times a week, perform some type of aerobic conditioning or circuit training for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Ab/Core Routine: Include 2 abdominal exercises in your routine.
- Good Posture: Perform a posture check.
Reduce Stress: Relax with exercise, deep breathing or meditation.