Each week, our own fitness fanatics Leah Polakoff and Caitlyn Kronket will explore the latest workout crazes, diet fads and dish out tips for healthy living. Managing your schoolwork is tough enough- let us take care of your health.
As a Sagittarius, I can’t stand routine or anything that involves repetition― which is why I constantly need to switch-up my ab workouts. Luckily for me, switching workouts and ab exercises is one of the core essentials (no pun intended) to seeing results.
Despite what your middle school gym teachers told you, only doing sit-ups isn’t going to give you drool-worthy abs. Having a six-pack like Jillian Michaels is the result of lots of hard work. You need to do exercises that work your entire core, which is more than just your stomach.
The core is made up of a few different body parts, like your abdominals, back and hips. To achieve a strong, healthy core, you need to strengthen all of these muscle groups. No celebrity trainer got their flat stomach by just doing crunches.
Having a strong core will not only give you awesome abs, it will straighten your posture (making sitting through that two hour lecture a little less painful), promote proper joint alignment and help prevent injuries. The core supports all muscle actions and helps stabilize your body. So if you’re clumsy like me, having a strong core could possibly prevent a few accidents here and there.
So now the question is: How do I achieve this strong core? There are tons of different core exercises; the solution is to find the ones that work best for you. Whether it’s exercises on the mat, taking Washboard Abs at the White Building or doing Jillian Michael’s Six Week Six-Pack home video (one of my favorites), you’re sure to see results as long as you’re mixing it up in every workout.
If you choose to do core exercises on your own, be sure to work your obliques (aka love handles), your lower and upper back and your hips. Side crunches, supermans (laying on your stomach and raising your chest), and planks are all efficient ways to work the entire core. Increase your repetitions and length of planks each week for faster results.
Participating in sports like yoga, cycling, sprinting, volleyball and kayaking also helps build core strength while you play. Any sport that requires balance, stability and contracting the upper and lower parts of the body will provide an excellent ab workout.
Not a sports person? No need to fret, you can still build core strength. Doing daily activities like putting groceries away can help you develop six-pack abs. Anything that involves bending, pulling or picking things up and putting them above shoulder level will work your abs. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in tight whenever you get the chance, every little bit helps!
Just remember, even if you’re crunched for time, there’s no need to resort to crunches. Mixing up your abdominal workouts and working the back and hips will provide for a happy, healthy core and a successful six-pack.
Photo by Brittany Trappe