by Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein
Boot Camp Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer
We see those ads and commercials all the time offering you the opportunity to get your very own six-pack abs just by buying and using this gadget or that gadget or this or that supplement, and mostly within a very brief period ranging from 24 hours to 3 months. These gadgets are predominantly and purportedly focusing on the abdominal region and promise that you, too, will lose inches of fat off your waist, combined with proper diet. Do they work? Will you end up with visible, defined, washboard abs by focusing on exercising your abdominal region? No! It’s a myth that any exercise focused on a specific body part will result in the loss of body fat in that specific area.
Please keep in mind that it is not necessarily a healthy state to have the level of body fat to see clearly defined abs. Remember that your body also needs body fat. Not enough body fat and too much body fat are both unhealthy states. With these abdominal region exercises below, you will achieve excellent abdominal strength and will strengthen the surrounding muscles as well, such as lower abs, obliques, hips, thighs and hip flexors. Your cost? Of course, the real investment is planning and executing your own fitness program as if you were commanding a military operation and your life and the lives of others depended upon it. Your life and the lives of others, who see you and get inspired to do the same, do depend upon the implementation of a consistent exercise and proper eating program.
Let’s get started on the road to that six-pack that you so desire and begin with crunches.
Keep in mind that there are really 1,001 ways to perform this and other body weight exercises. Here’s how we will perform the crunch. Get on your back. Take your hands and clasp them behind your head, bend your knees and bring your heels close to your butt. Lift those shoulders up off the ground or floor and lower them again. Start with 10 to 20 reps per set and work your way up to 50 to 100 or more per set. This is just a slight motion. Make sure you raise those shoulders ever so slightly to cause the abs to contract. Concentrate on contracting those abs. Do enough of these and you will notice that the crunch can really work those abs. The motion should be smooth without going too fast.
RAPID FIRE CRUNCHES
I know! I know! I just said perform your crunches smooth without going too fast. Well, I changed my mind. Let’s add a rapid-fire crunch to your arsenal. Now I’m not sure I really need to explain “rapid fire,” but I’m going to do it anyway. A rapid-fire crunch is the equivalent of a sprint; but you are performing crunches. The command to start after getting into the crunch position is, “On your mark! Get set! Go!” Now rapidly perform those crunches and count aloud! Perform anywhere from 20 to 50 per set. After a couple of sets of rapid-fire abs, you will feel those abs working. You know what? You just added a cardio workout while performing crunches. I’ll bet that makes you so excited that you’ll get right down and do another set to celebrate.
CRUNCHES WITH LEG RAISED AND EXTENDED
Now we’re going to vary the crunch by doing crunches with one leg extended off the ground. Start out with the right leg extended six inches off the ground and hands still clasped behind your head. We’ll practice a set of 30 reps on each leg. Here’s how. Perform 10 crunches with the leg six inches off the ground, then 10 with the leg half way up, then 10 with the leg reaching for the sky. Now switch and do the same with the left leg or simply switch legs between each set of 10 reps with each leg.
Let’s move on to the four-count-leg-levers. You’re still on your back. This time place your hands with palms facing down on the ground and arms extended at the sides of your body to stabilize the lower back and your head raised. The starting position is with legs raised six inches off the ground and together. Now here’s the four-count. ONE – raise the legs up to about 36 inches off the ground. TWO – spread the legs while still raised at the 36-inch level. THREE – bring the legs back together while still at the 36-inch level. FOUR – back down to the position 6 inches off the ground. This exercise also works the hip flexors, lower abs and lower back. Do 10 reps per set with multiple sets. Start off with no more than five reps per set if you notice a lot of strain on the lower back and work up to 10 reps.
You’re still on your back with arms extended on the sides of your body and palms facing down to stabilize the lower back and your head raised. Raise up both of your legs in a staggered position (one leg is higher than the other) with a slight bend in the knees. This is a four-count exercise. With each count, you will simply switch the leg positions which makes it look like scissor movement, not bicycle pedaling. This is your leg movement for the count: ONE, scissor move; TWO, scissor move; THREE, scissor move; FOUR, scissor move. Here’s how you count the reps: One, two, three, ONE; one, two, three, TWO; one, two, three, THREE, one, two, three, FOUR; one, two, three, FIVE. Do five to ten reps per set with multiple sets and very brief rests between sets.
Your Action Plan: Perform at least ten sets of abdominal exercises five to six days per week
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The author of this article is Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret., boot camp fitness instructor and personal trainer.
Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret.
Fitness Boot Camp Instructor and Personal Trainer
Lt. Col. Weinstein, nationally known as the Health Colonel, has been featured on the History Channel and specializes in a military-style workout for all fitness levels on
Fort Lauderdale Beach in South Florida. He is the author of Boot Camp Fitness for All Shapes and Sizes.
Boot Camp Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer website www.beachbootcamp.net