How do I Choose the Best Ab Routine?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Whether trying to improve overall fitness, or trying to get that six-pack flaunted by movie and sports stars, an ab routine is the key to a toned and fit midsection. By choosing varied exercises that work the whole area, a person can make gradual steps toward reaching the look and level of tone desired. Be aware when choosing an ab routine that spot weight-loss is almost impossible to achieve; the best results will come from incorporating ab moves into an overall workout that improves the entire body.

Ballet can tighten the abs, as well as the rest of the body.
Ballet can tighten the abs, as well as the rest of the body.

There are several reasons why abdominal exercises can be important and beneficial to the body. In addition to creating a fit silhouette, firm and toned abs also help improve core strength. A strong central core can be greatly useful in warding off injury and providing supporting strength to the rest of the body.

Regular workouts and a healthy diet can lead to flat abs.
Regular workouts and a healthy diet can lead to flat abs.

It's easy to think of the abdominal area as one large muscle, but it in fact combines several different muscle groups that require attention in an ab routine. Obliques, the long side muscles that help create a defined waist, are often exercised using moves that twist the body, such as bicycle crunches. Lower abs are generally worked by using the weight of the legs to cause tension in the area. The transverse abdominal muscles, or main portion of the abs, are normally worked through aerobic and anaerobic exercises, such as calisthenics or yoga.

Yoga can help work out the transverse abdominal muscles.
Yoga can help work out the transverse abdominal muscles.

To create an effective ab routine, each of these muscle groups must be worked in some fashion. Many routines are done on the floor, using a variety of sit-ups to work each part of the area. Some people choose to use ab equipment, such as ab benches or sit-up frames, to help improve posture and ensure that the correct muscles are being used. Still other exercisers like to get in an ab routine through ballet, yoga, or Pilates moves, all of which focus on total body performance and strengthening the core of the body.'

All of these choices make creating an ab routine even easier. By choosing different workout moves every few weeks, an ab routine can remain stimulating and varied, preventing boredom and keeping muscles from getting used to being worked the same way. Don't be afraid to try new moves and styles of exercise that benefit the abdominal area; remaining open to new styles will help keep the exerciser actively involved in the workout.

Other important factors to consider when choosing an ab routine are time and fitness level. In terms of time, health experts recommend starting slow, performing perhaps twenty minutes of exercise with a day off between ab workouts to allow for recovery. Fitness level is important to consider, as neck and spinal injuries may make some moves inappropriate. Be sure to study the original move carefully and perform slowly if necessary; incorrect posture can easily lead to strain on the neck or spine, and can quickly aggravate old injuries or create new ones.

Sit-ups and crunches are simple core ab exercises.
Sit-ups and crunches are simple core ab exercises.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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