Six Pack vs Strong Core (Part 2)

Three kids and and age against me I am living proof you can have a six-pack without spending hours doing sit-ups or having a carb-free (ho-hum) diet. Here are my tricks (Shhhh…. this is between you and me). And you know what the best side effect of this is? A strong core which we all need!

You might remember way back when I gave you some tips on getting great abs and one of the rules (rule #2 from memory) went like this….

Rule #2 (Let’s say Reality)

Unfortunately, you can have the best abs on the planet, but if you’re carrying extra weight (i.e. fat) you’re not going to see those toned abs hidden beneath. So if you want to see your six-pack, a low level of body fat is essential (sub-18%).

Contrary to popular belief, no amount of abs training will reduce the body fat that covers your midsection. The only way to reduce the fat covering your abs is to follow a smart nutritional program and a well-designed training regime that increases your metabolism and naturally stimulates your fat-burning hormones. Lose the fat, and get a wonderful surprise at what lies below.

This rule applies to your waist too, as it is a major part of your mid-section. But let’s assume we have dealt with the over-fat issue and we just need to add a nice svelte shape to our waistline. There are a plethora of great exercises that specifically target the waist muscles. These muscles are primarily our obliques. The external obliques are the widest muscles in your body, running diagonally down from the middle of your ribcage to your pelvis, while the internal obliques lie beneath, running diagonally up from your pelvis to your ribcage

You could almost imagine them as those old fashion corsets, and if you pull the laces tight enough you will get a nice curve around your waistline… well that’s what we achieve when we work our obliques.

Since these muscles are diagonal, any movement that crosses our body such as twisting, bending, and alternate elbow to knee exercises works our oblique muscles. You’ve probably been doing them for years, you just weren’t aware you were creating a nice, sexy waist.

Here are a few of my favourite waist exercises that get in and give results without having to do copious reps. Of course, you should still eat well, include some cardio exercise and work your other muscles to balance your entire muscelo-skeletal system.

Hover or Plank

This is my all-time favourite exercise. It gets your entire core in one ‘foul’ move! Lie face down on the floor. Get into the push-up position, except with your elbows on the floor instead of your hands. Elevate yourself, with just your elbows and toes on the floor. Keep you palms flat on the floor. (Beginners may prefer to use knees rather than toes, with feet crossed over each other).  Hold for 30 seconds, and build up to 1, 2 or even 3 minutes for the hard-core (pun intended!).

Do 1 set of each of these exercises every other day. After week one, do 2 sets, then aim for 3 sets. Although it doesn’t just target your waist, it benefits your entire core and warms up your waist (oblique) muscles ready for the following exercises!

 Side Plank

 As above but on you side! You lay on your left side. Lift your body so your weight is taken by your elbow (which is placed directly below your shoulder) and the side of your left foot. No other part of your body should be touching the floor. Keep your abs tight, and hold for 30 secs. As you get more advanced, you may like to lower your hip to the floor, touch it, and then spring back up (side raises). Start with 10 raises and build on that. Make sure you do both sides. You may also like to do a hold, then 10 raises. Combinations are great, and keep boredom at bay too.

Broom Twists (Seated or Standing)

If sitting, have your legs out straight in front, and then spread! I standing, have feet position shoulder with apart and a nice strong core. Place a broom or similar behind your head. Place hands on the handle at about shoulder width apart. Slowly twist to the left, back to centre, and to the right. Repeat 20 times each side.  Concentrate on twisting at the waist and not the hips or legs. This is a great exercise to work those sides, for increased difficulty use a barbell with light to medium weights.

Side JackKnife (or side crunches)

Lay on your side with knees bent. Slowly crunch up lifting shoulder up bending at the waist to create the lift. Keep the movement in the lateral (side) plane as much as possible to emphasise contraction of the obliques. Maintain a bend in your knees to take pressure off your lower back. Crunch your obliques hard at the top of each movement. Hold the position for the count of two seconds and lower to the starting position. 10 each side is a good start.

Alternate Crunch

This is another good one that incorporates the other muscles in your abs, with a special focus on the obliques. You perform a crunch as you would, but you add a twist on the way up. So you crunch shoulders up with left shoulder angling towards right knee. Lower, and then repeat on the opposite side.

Once you can do this with ease, up the anti. Try more reps and eventually more sets. A strong core is more than show-casing a six-pack!

Contrary to popular belief, no amount of abs training will reduce the body fat that covers your midsection. The only way to reduce the fat covering your abs is to follow a smart nutritional program and a well-designed training regime that increases your metabolism and naturally stimulates your fat-burning hormones.
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