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How to Get Strong, Sexy Abs

Tips for getting strong abs and a flat belly


Updated May 18, 2014

Young woman wearing swimsuit, portrait
Simon Watson/The Image Bank/Getty Images
If lots of ab exercises are part of your regular workout routine in the hopes of developing strong, sexy abs, you might be wasting your time. Many people mistakenly perform countless ab exercises thinking it's the fastest way to a flat belly, but the truth is that in order to get both a strong and defined midsection, it takes more than just a lot of crunches. To work the core muscles, you need exercises that engage many muscles between the pelvis and the shoulders. But more importantly, to be able see definition in your abs, you'll need to reduce the layer of body fat covering them up.

Abdominal and Core Exercise

To condition your abs, perform specific core exercises that work all the abdominal muscles. There are many core exercises you can do without any equipment, and there are also some simple products that you can use at home, such as a large exercise ball. Using the ball for crunches requires that you stabilize your torso while balanced on the ball and you end up using more muscles than when performing standard crunches.

Also See

Best Ab Exercise Equipment

Sometimes doing a exercise is more fun and efficient when you enlist the help of a few pieces of equipment. Here are some top picks:

Compare Prices Medicine Balls
Compare PricesKettlebells
Compare PricesStability Balls
Compare PricesVertical Knee Raise Machine

Also See: Top 10 Abdominal Exercise Equipment Choices

High Intensity Training and Endurance Exercise

Endurance exercise will burn calories and help you lose weight, but if you don't have time for endurance exercise, you can get similar cardiovascular benefits and calories faster with high intensity training. Reducing calories without exercise may lead to initial weight loss, but you'll likely reach a plateau, and you may also lose muscle. See: Endurance Training for Sports | High Intensity Training Principles

Nutrition for a Flat Belly

In order to decrease body fat and build muscle you need proper nutrition. The best diet is one that includes a balance of whole (not processed) foods including complex carbohydrates, quality protein and healthy fat. Eating several small meals throughout the day helps many people stay more satisfied and reduces hunger. Other tips for avoiding fat gain include: getting adequate calcium, eating breakfast and eating high fiber foods. Make sure you stay well-hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and be sure not to cut calories too drastically or you could inadvertently lower your metabolism.

Core Exercise Tips

You can perform core stability exercises to improve your torso strength, balance and stability. Your core is made up of the abdominals, lower back and hips and creates a foundation for all other movement. These muscles stabilize the spine and create a strong center around which the extremities can move. A strong core is important in every aspect of movement; especially power movements.

Core Muscle Strength and Stability Testing

The Plank exercise can be used as the basis for assessing your core strength. Sports coach, Brian Mackenzie, created this test as a way to determine an individual's current core strength and stability and then to monitor progress over time.

Combining a bit of each – good nutrition, aerobic exercise and core specific strengthening – will go a long way to give you those strong, flat and functional abs.

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