It's easy to neglect your abs when you are less motivated to go to the gym. But having "good" abs is more than just fitting into your pants. Akil Ross, a master trainer and creator of I Love Abs, discusses the importance of these muscles and gives great tips for strong and sexy abs all year round.
Your abdominals, or "core", are made up of many different muscles that are classified into two groups—the "outer" and "inner." Most people focus on the "outer" abs to get that washboard look, however, do not overlook those "inner" abdominals. These muscles are responsible for core and spine stability and are especially important for those who have back problems or sit all day.
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Ross stresses strong and sexy abs do not come from adding more weight or machines, but by incorporating natural body exercises. Natural body exercises focus on the use of your body weight and movement changes. To challenge your core, Ross suggests:
- Slow it down.
- Change the angle.
- Challenge the stability.
Slow down exercises to create more tension, which develops muscle strength and endurance. Instead of doing crunches with the normal up-down pace, try a one to three tempo. Come up for one count and go down for three counts. This simple tweak works because you challenge your muscles to a new tempo.
Change the angle with an incline or decline to allow the abdominals to activate on a more intense level. It is important to control of your movement so your abs do the work, not gravity. Do oblique crunches on a decline bench to challenge your core with angles.
To challenge the stability of an exercise simply change the environment. Incorporate balance into your exercises. Activate your "inner" and "outer" core muscles by balancing. For Ross, this is one of the best ways to get great abs without adding weight or machines.
Some examples are:
- Beginner: Plank on the floor
- Intermediate: Plank on the floor with a leg extension
- Advance: Plank on a physioball
A strong and sexy core comes from dynamic exercises that challenge muscles in new and unique ways. For Ross, the human body is the best gym. Drop the weights and machines—use your body weight and challenge yourself for a killer core.
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Arlen Zamula currently works as the fitness department for a school-based health program where she teaches exercises to about 4,500 students.
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