As a personal trainer, I often get asked how to develop a strong core and a six-pack. It seems that so many people are still practicing old exercises and cranking out hundreds of sit-ups on a daily basis in the hope of reducing stomach fat and developing their six-pack abs.
Regular sit-ups or crunches will not only' give you back problems, they don't really help in developing your core and revealing your stomach muscles. Our core and stomach muscles are more complex than you may think and need to be worked in three different planes of motion. Regular sit-ups and crunches are unnatural and only address one plane of movement, which they do quite poorly. As well as taking the core/stomach muscles through three different planes of movement, the body fat covering the abdominals must also be addressed.
Forget the old wives' tale about spot reducing fat—this simply isn't the case. Hundreds of sit-ups won't burn stomach fat; fat naturally comes of in layers from all over the body. The only way to reduce stomach fat is with a good total body exercise and by eating healthy. Abs must be trained, just like any other body part, at least three to four times a week.
Here are a few exercises I do with my clients. Do these three times a week for six weeks and you'll start sporting some flat abs!
THE SIDE PLANK: Keep your hips inline, belly button in, and maintain this position for as long as possible. Start with 30 seconds and increase up to 2 minutes over time. Breathe!
THE FRONT PLANK: Keep your body in a straight line, belly button in, and arms at 90-degree angles, shoulders squared. Start. with 30 seconds and increase up to 2 minutes over time. Breathe!
THE FRONT MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: In a press-up position with your back flat and belly button pulled in, bring your knee straight up to your chest. Breathe out as you do and con-tract your abdominals as if you were being punched in the stomach. Take leg back and repeat. Start with 10 on each side and work up to 3 sets of 20.
THE OUTSIDE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: Do just as above but drop your hips slightly and bring your knee to the outside of your elbow, Squeeze the side of your stomach, your oblique muscles, together as if being folded in half sideways.
THE INSIDE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: Do just as above but bring your knee across and squeeze the side of your stomach muscles (obliques).
Enjoy your new abs!