Aside from the pure aesthetics of a nice mid-section, there is something to be said for a strong and toned core. The core, after all, is the foundation for nearly all movement. Our arms and legs need a strong base from which to move with power and grace, and a wimpy abdominal section makes all this movement less efficient.
Doing hours of crunches and other ab exercises as a way to reduce body fat and build the perfect "six-pack," however, is simply a waste of time. Yes, ab exercise is essential, but going overboard with ab exercises, such as crunches, is pointless.
How Much Ab Exercise Is Enough?
How much abdominal exercise you need is often dependent upon the sports you play or activities you do on a daily basis. Even the most extreme athlete, though, only needs a short amount of time to target their abdominal and core muscles to the max. Where many people go wrong is by failing to work all the abdominal muscles properly.
Before you can design the best ab workout, it helps to understand the Abdominal Muscles - Where They Are and How They Work. You'll also want to combine exercises that target all the abdominal muscles — not just the rectus abdominus.
What Ab Exercises Should You Do?
One ab exercise routine that offers an ideal amount of ab work is the following:
- Select at least 5 abdominal exercises that combine:
- Perform 10 repetitions of each exercise and move to the next exercise.
- Change your abdominal exercise routine every 2 to 3 weeks.
- Maintain good form with each muscle contraction.
- Contract your abs and pull your belly button in toward your spine with each contraction.
- Maintain a slow and controlled movement.
- Support your head when you need to, but don't pull on your head or pull your chin to your chest.
Beyond Ab Exercises - You Need to Lose Fat to See Ab Definition
You can't lose body fat covering your abs by doing ab exercise. This concept, called "spot reduction," is one of the great fitness myths (see: Can I Lose Belly Fat by Doing Lots of Crunches?).
In order to get defined and visible abs, you need to reduce body fat all over. The best way to do this? Well, you already know. You'll need a balanced plan that incorporates a healthy diet and exercise routines that focus on strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system.