If you’re religiously doing 1000s of sit ups every day in hope of getting a strong core or six pack… then please for the love of god, stop. Just stop.
Apart from the fact you are most likely overusing your hip flexors than your actual abdominal muscles… there are better ways to go about it. Functional ways.
Below are three of my favorites which will not only help strengthen your core and supporting muscles, but it will increase your general fitness and strength while you are at it. Win win!
Forget the traditional crunch (and isolated exercises), the best way to build a stronger back and tighter abs is with compound movements such as squats, chin-ups, lunges, Olympic lifts and my favorite, deadlifts.
The deadlift might not be the first movement you think of for flat abs but it should be, it is one of the best exercises to train the transverse abdominus (the muscle fibers of the TVA run horizontally and are located deep beneath the abdominal musculature of the rectus abdominus, and the internal /external obliques.) During a heavy lift, you have to activate all of your core muscles, this creates an internal pressure which prevents the spine from folding forward. A study published in the January 2008 issue of the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research states,” this intense core activation makes the deadlift as effective as any abdominal exercise. And the strengthening of the core is essential for achieving a flat stomach.”
One of the most effective way to get rid of visceral fat (yes, that is the fat around your tummy) is to do strength training coupled with high-intensity interval training – and sprints are the perfect choice.
A recent study showed that participants who did a 6-week sprint interval program (4 to 6 sprints for 30 seconds each with 4 minutes rest) lost an impressive 12.4 percent body fat and an average of 3 kg of fat mass.
Give ‘sprints on the minute’ a go next time you are short on time, just measure out 100-200m, sprint as fast as you can and then recover for the rest of the minute (ie approx 35 + seconds). Repeat 10 times. Be sure to warm up prior to sprinting as it will be a shock to your quads!
Other benefits of sprints include:
- Fast results
- Fat burning
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Boosted Metabolism
- Allows for continued fat burn after your workout is over
** Remember to couple your sprints with strength training (ie your squats, pull ups, deadlifts, pushups etc) for maximum results.
Swiss ball Jack Knife
Want a strong core and flat tummy? Then add this advanced stability exercise to your workout as it trains your entire core including your abdominal, lower-back, and hip muscles.
- Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight.
- Rest your shins on a Swiss ball.
- Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
- Brace your abdominals—as if you were about to be punched in the stomach—and maintain that contraction for the duration of this exercise.
Without rounding your lower back, contract your abs and use your feet to pull the ball toward your chest by bending your knees.
Pause, and return to the starting position.
You can also use suspension training (like Rip60 or TRX) to perform this movement.
Also an honourable mention to every PT’s favourite ‘the Plank’, cable woodchops and hanging knee raises.
Would love to hear what your fave core exercises are – just comment below.