Six-pack abs have always been a sign of fitness and endurance in athletes. During the summer, six-pack or "washboard" abs signals the ultimate sexy beach bod.
The movie "300" has also spawned even greater interest in six-pack abs, especially with publicity surrounding the epic regimen that Hollywood stars had to endure to achieve the very real appearance of Spartan warriors.
Developing six-pack abs is not for everyone. It takes time, as well as a new diet to build strength and stamina for a commitment to daily ab exercises.
Those with common muscle problems such as neck or lower back
pain should also first consult a doctor or physical therapist before beginning ab strengthening exercises.
Here's the most effective, common-sense way to do it:
1. You can begin right now by tightening your ab muscles. Do
it while reading this, or while you're watching TV, or in an office chair at work.
2. Begin thinking about a diet plan that helps reduce fat while developing muscle. The classic high-protein low-carb
plan works for anyone who wants to begin losing the body fat
that always obscures the abdominals.
3. DIET: Start your day with a big nutritious breakfast and
then eat at regular intervals throughout the day to maintain
energy and metabolism. Limit snacks, and be sure to include
lean meat and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Meanwhile, limit your intake of sugary drinks, white bread, pasta and other carbs to help quickly shed fat while you build muscle.
3. EXERCISE: With a leg up on proper nutrition, begin your
daily ab exercise. Studies have shown that the "bicycle" crunch is by far the most effective exercise to target ab muscles.
IMPORTANT: to avoid injury, always start out with low-impact
warm-up exercises such as a quick jog, knee bends, or any
other of your favorite overall muscle stretching exercises.
4. The ab-building bicycle move begins by lying flat on the
floor with both hands behind your head. Bring knees up to a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal action. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Remember that when called upon to do extra work, muscles crave oxygen. BREATHE.
5. When you first start out, repeat a few times to get your
muscles accustomed to the new regimen. As you build up strength, repeat daily for several sets of 10-15 reps.
6. Don't expect results overnight. Depending on the amount of body fat you need to shed when you first start out, it could take up to 90 days of daily sets. Keep at it, and you will eventually achieve the ultimate goal of showing-off your new set of six-pack abs.