Science of Ab Workout Routines
Free Ab Workout Routine
The basics: Do this workout 3 times a week, with a day off between sessions. Begin all workout routines with Moves 1 and 2; then choose 2 of the remaining 4 moves. Vary the moves throughout the week to keep your abs challenged.
The warm-up: Begin every workout with cat stretches: On all fours, inhale and pull your shoulders down away from your ears, lengthening your spine and lifting your tailbone. Exhale as you round your spine toward the ceiling. Repeat 3-4 times.
The free ab workout routine: Whatever your fitness level, begin with 1 set of each move, resting 45-60 seconds after each set. For best results, pay special attention to your form so that you fatigue your target muscles by the end of each workout. When this is no longer challenging, add a second set of each move. Or don't rest between exercises.
The cool-down: Do 3-4 cat stretches.
4 Exercise Myths About Abs -- Debunked!
Exercise Myths: #1 You should work your abs every day.
Truth Your abs are just like any other muscle group - if you're working them to exhaustion (which is the best way to develop strength and muscle tone), they'll need about 48 hours of recovery time between workouts. (Note: If you're a novice, you'll want to increase the intensity of your workouts gradually - overdoing it in the beginning will only make you sore.)
Exercise Myths: #2 The more crunches you do, the better.
Truth Unless you're a beginner, doing hundreds of reps will do little to produce actual strength. In other words, you're just wasting your time. You're better off focusing on using proper technique and increasing the tension on your target muscles so you can fatigue your abs in fewer reps.
Exercise Myths: #3 You need different workout routines to target your upper and lower abdominals.
Truth The upper and lower abs aren't two separate muscles, but rather one long sheath of muscle (called the rectus abdominis) that runs from just beneath your chest down to your pelvis. Any exercise that works the lower part of the muscle will affect the upper portion, too. Our study found the EMG responses almost the same for the upper and lower portions of the muscle regardless of the area we were trying to target.
Exercise Myths: #4 Ab workout routines are the key to getting ripped.
Truth Most of us are aware of the layer of body fat that resides in our abdominal regions. While ab exercises can help make your midsection look more firm and toned, you'll need to shed more body fat if you want to see more definition.
The best way to de-flab? Eat a healthy, low-fat diet and do regular cardio exercise plus total-body strength training to burn calories and build metabolism-boosting muscle.