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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Don't let the belly dance: An abs routine

Don't let the belly dance: An abs routine

January 28, 2010 13:03 IST

Are you fed up of flab on your tummy? Here's how to get rock hard abs by fitness expert Namita Jain.

Train consistently and intelligently. Unfortunately, there is no one best exercise for training abs. Perform a variety of exercises -- include exercises from past and current trends. Also, include traditional crunches as well as effective movements from Pilates, yoga, sports and fitness ball training.

Focus on doing the movement right so that the exercise works for you. This means no sloppy or halfhearted movements.

Imagine gymnasts, acrobats, or dancers performing their skills without control and focus. The results would be disastrous! Lack of control and concentration is the primary reason why results are hard to get.

Motivation, at its highest level, is action. So get set and ready to go.

How do I get rid of the layer of flab around my abs?

The best way to burn fat is through diet modification and exercise. Cut out empty calories and eat sensibly. Simple exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling or running are effective for burning calories.

Once I get my chiseled abs, how do I hang on to them?

The answer is simple.
1. Keep on exercising and eat healthy.
2. Change your routine from time to time to challenge your muscles.

The ab routine

Keep varying your ab workouts. Use this recommendation as a guideline to plan your own routine.

Aim to perform the ab exercise routine thrice a week. Never repeat the same workout within a 48-hour period. Like any other muscle in your body, the abs also need a days' rest in-between sessions to recuperate.

Monday: Fit ball, traditional ab routine
Wednesday: Pilates and Yoga routine, traditional ab routine
Friday: Fit ball, Pilates and Yoga routine

Fit ball

Fitness balls are sometimes called Swiss balls or stability balls. They stabilise and strengthen core muscles, protect the spine and increase the intensity of most exercises. Ball exercises improve posture, body mechanics and flexibility. Balance is the key to building strength, mobility and stability on the ball.

Ball sit-ups
Lie on the ball with your shoulders off the ball and your feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck. Tighten your abs and bring your chest and shoulders forwards towards your hips. Slowly, return to starting position.
Do 2 sets of 16 reps.

Reverse curl with ball
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Rest your heels and calves about knee-width apart on the ball. Tense your abs and, holding the ball between your heels and thighs, raise it off the floor. Slowly, return to starting position.
Do 2 sets of 16 reps.

Pilates and yoga

Pilates and yoga ab exercises are centered around the core. Core movements use the central nervous system in conjunction with the deep stabilising muscles of the abdomen, back, pelvic floor and gluteus. Most forms of exercises do not emphasise on training these muscles. You will be surprised how challenging it is to perform exercises using these postural and stabilising muscles.

Mermaid side bends
Sit on the side with your knees slightly bent and together. Place your hand palm down, directly below your shoulder. Now, extend your arm and lift your body up from the waist so that the body is straight and aligned and is balanced on your hand and the side of the foot. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then switch sides.

Boat pose (Navasana)
Lie on your back and lift your upper back and legs off the floor. Your hands are by your side and your head and toes are on the same level. Hold. Slowly, return to starting position. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Traditional ab exercises

Concentrate on performing high-quality reps, rather than doing mechanical movements.

Single-knee crunch
Lie on your back with your feet straight up in the air. Place your hands behind your head to support your neck. Tighten your abs and bring one knee towards your chest, lifting both shoulders off the floor as you do so. Slowly return to starting position, and repeat the exercise with the other leg.
Do 2 sets of 16 reps (each leg).

Incline bench reverse curl
Lie on a bench or step with the top end raised (about 45 degrees). Support your lower back by placing your palms bellow them. Now, tighten your abs and raise your lower back slightly off the bench, bringing your legs towards your ribcage. Slowly, return to starting position.
Do 2 sets of 16 reps.

Alternate arm and leg raise
Lie on your stomach on the mat. Raise your left hand and right leg, keeping them straight. Slowly return to starting position. Now, raise your right hand and left leg.
Do 1 set of 16 reps.

Namita Jain holds prestigious international certifications in several fitness-related disciplines and has been actively involved as a wellness expert and clinical exercise specialist for over 20 years. She offers fitness products and services under her own brand, JaldiFit -- visit the website www.liveactive.com for information and advice across the entire wellness spectrum.

Namita Jain