A strong, well-toned core is not just aesthetically appealing, it is also essential for overall physical fitness. Abs form an important component of the core along with the muscles of the back and pelvis. Strong abs help maintain a good posture. They also help move around, bend over and perform everyday tasks. Thus, toned abs are not just required to add to the appearance, they are also needed to keep the body physically functional. They also help get rid of back pain and improve agility and balance.
If you are looking for weight loss, you must know that a targeted weight loss (where a particular area of the body is focused on) may not be practically achievable. To get toned abs, you need to achieve overall fat loss from the body. A combination of a healthy diet and physical activities is important. Some of the ways through which you can achieve a healthy weight and get a flat abdomen or six-packs are
- Drink plenty of water and nonsugary fluids.
- Do regular weight-bearing exercises under an expert’s guidance.
- Practice mindful eating so that you burn more calories than you eat to achieve a healthy weight loss.
- Perform regular cardio workouts, such as walking, jogging, running, or dancing.
- Try to keep stress away by practicing regular yoga, meditation, music, or pursuing hobbies.
- Cut down on sugar. Also, beware of the hidden sugars in junk foods and soft drinks.
- Increase fiber intake by regularly having at least two to three servings of vegetable salads, fruits, and psyllium husk.
- Keep moving through your day and not just during an hour or two of your exercise schedule.
- Limit your intake of fats and fatty foods.
- Consume healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
- Get adequate sleep every day to keep the stress hormones under check.
- Perform floor exercises and functional workouts, such as crunches, burpees, mountain climbing, and jumping jacks.
- Increase protein intake since proteins help you stay full for longer and provide the raw material for healthy muscles. You can take a dietician’s help to know how much protein you need to have per day.
- Replace processed carbohydrates (such as biscuits and pastries) with complex carbohydrates (such as oats, brown rice, whole-grain bread, and sweet potatoes).
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Snack on low-calorie foods, such as cucumbers and apples, instead of chips and cookies.
Types of ab workout
Any type of workout is best done under professional supervision. A professional can help you use your posture and exercise gears optimally to achieve the best results and avoid exercise-related injury.
Some of the workouts that engage your core and help you get toned abs are
- Plank: Kneel on all fours on a mat to be in a table-top position. Bend your elbows so that they are right below your shoulders. Straighten your legs. Now, your body will become parallel to the floor. You may tuck in the tailbone to further engage your core. Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest and repeat. Perform three sets at a time.
- Side-plank: Lie on your side with right forearm flat on the floor, elbow under shoulder, and both legs extended. The body should form a straight line from head to feet. You may keep your feet stacked or a little staggered for better balance. Engage your core and lift your hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side. Perform three sets at a time.
- Dumbbell side bend: It is excellent for getting rid of the fat from your sides. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palm facing inward toward the torso. Keeping your back straight, bend to the side from your waist. Hold for one second at the bottom of your range of motion. Come to the starting position and bend on the other side. Repeat around 10 to 20 times on each side. Rest and do three sets.
- Crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly placed on the floor. Keeping your hands under your neck and your lower back fixed to the mat, raise your shoulders and the top half of your torso until you begin to feel a stretch in the upper portion of your abs. Lower slowly. Repeat 20 to 25 times. Rest and perform three sets.
- Bird dog: Starting in a tabletop position, keep your shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Engage your core as you lift your right arm and left leg. Keep your foot flexed because you kick back while your palm faces toward your body. Hold for one second when your arm and leg are at the same height as your torso. Bring your elbow and knee to touch underneath your body. Repeat for 10 to 15 times on each side. Rest and do three such sets.
- Reverse crunches: Lie on your back with legs lifted so that the thighs are perpendicular to the ground and knees are bent. Press your lower back into the floor. Draw your knees into the chest to lift your hips off the ground. Return to starting position with control. Do 15 to 20 repetitions. Rest and perform three sets.
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The Real-World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-real-world-benefits-of-strengthening-your-core