Fitness Magazine

The 30 Day Challenge For Better Abs

By Kenin Bassart @Constantramble

Do you wonder how to get a flat stomach? You might have this question on your mind on a regular basis. You want to live a healthy lifestyle and feel good every day, but of course you care about your abs. Here’s the deal: the 30 day ab challenge will change this area of your body and transform your fitness routine. Read on to find out more. Your Abs You might be wondering what your ab muscles are and you want to know more about this part of your body. There are four ab muscles that you should know about. Let’s take a look at them before getting into which exercises you will be performing during your 30 day ab challenge.

  • Rectus Abdominis
  • has connective tissue
  • what people mean when they talk about a “six pack”
  • located from your pelvis to the sternum
  • External Obliques
  • located on eight lower ribs
  • located on your pelvis and are connected to the connective tissue in your rectus abdominis
  • these move as you perform a core exercise
  • Internal Obliques
  • located under your external obliques
  • these also move as you perform a core exercise
  • Transverse Abdominis
  • located under your internal obliques
  • located around your abs (1)

See also: How To Lose Weight In Your Face With 4 Easy Steps  Now.

The 30 Day Challenge For Better AbsWhether you want to tone your midsection or end up with a six-pack, the truth is there are certain exercises that target the abdominals and will give you better results. The following exercises will be the best ones for your 30 day ab challenge. The Bicycle Maneuver/Bicycle Crunches  The American Council On Exercise sponsored a 2001 study at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University. Here’s the deal:

  • The study was about discovering the best ab exercises
  • Peter Francis, Ph.D., led the study
  • A total of 30 participants, male and female, did 13 ab exercises in order to see which ones were the most successful

Of the 13 ab exercises, the bicycle maneuver/bicycle crunch took the number one spot.  As the ACE said, “According to the researchers, although crunches on an exercise ball generated less activity in the obliques and rectus abdominus than some of the other exercises, the exercise also generated significantly less activity in the thigh muscle, making it more targeted to the abs and the best overall exercise” (2). Here is how to do a bicycle crunch:

  • Lie down on your back
  • Put your hands behind your head with your elbows out
  • Bring your right knee up and touch your left elbow to your right knee
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Repeat for 10 reps
  • Start slowly and then go double time if you wish

Why are bicycle crunches so effective? What’s interesting is that bicycle crunches target your ab muscles just like doing a more traditional crunch would. Want to know the best part? Bicycle crunches are awesome because you are working both the lower and upper parts of your abs. Your “rectus abdominis” (the muscles in front of your abs) are working a lot here. When you twist, you are working your “external obliques” (which are located on each side of your waist) (3). Since the ACE gave this exercise the number one spot back in 2001, fitness experts agree that it is a great one to perform a regular basis.   Plank  If you have ever taken a yoga class or another group fitness class, you have most likely done a plank. That’s because planks are another highly effective exercise that target your ab muscles. You can hold plank on your hands or on your forearms. Some people say that holding plank on your hands for a long time will start to bother your wrists, but this is subjective and it’s a personal choice. To hold plank on your hands, here’s what you do:

  • Place each hand palms down on a mat or the floor and put your knees down
  • Step your feet back and lift your hips up
  • Make sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders to ensure that you are in the proper position.

The 30 Day Challenge For Better AbsWhy are planks so great? Besides the fact that they will work your abs, planks are also believed to make your muscles “flexible” and lets you work on your balance. As Dr. Mercola writes in an article on the exercise, “Planking will help build your deep inner core muscles that lay the groundwork for that six-pack look.” (4). There is some proof behind why planks are so effective, of course. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning published a study that discovered this interesting fact: while crunches work 64 percent of your ab muscles, planks work 100 percent of them (5).   Plank Variations  Holding plank for a minute (or even more) will make the muscles in your abdominals even stronger and the more you do this, the longer you can hold planks. You can also do some plank variations, which will make your workouts more fun. Here’s the kicker: plank variations also target your abs even more than holding a static plank since you will make sure that your other muscles are getting a workout, too (6). Here are some plank variations:

  • Hold plank on your hands and lift your right leg up, then your left, and repeat several times
  • Hold plank on your hands and step your right leg out to the side, then your left, and repeat several times as slow or fast as you want
  • Hold plank on your hands and do a plank jumping jack: jump your legs out to each side while staying in this position
  • Hold plank on your forearms and do oblique dips: turn your body so your left hip goes down toward the floor, then turn your body so your right hip goes down toward the floor, and repeat

Side Plank  Your obliques are located on each side of your waist, and they are just as important as your front abdominals because they help you work on balance, getting stronger in your core, and making sure that you don’t end up injuring your back (7). If you include side planks in your 30 day ab challenge, you will be working your obliques. Since you have to use your core muscles to ensure that you don’t fall over, there is no way that you can’t improve your balance. Here is how to do a side plank:

  • Lie on your right side and lift your hips so that your feet are together
  • Make sure that your elbow and arm are directly under your shoulder — otherwise you might find it too uncomfortable
  • Repeat on the other side
  • There are a few variations you can do: hip dips, raise one leg, use a weighted ball and bring it down below your shoulder and then back up

  The 30 Day Challenge For Better AbsLunges  Do you love or hate lunges? Chances are, you might cringe every time that they come up in a group fitness class, but they are incredibly effective for your entire body, but especially for your core. So it might be time to look at lunges in a different, more positive light. You might be wondering how lunges can be part of the 30-day ab challenge. When you do lunges, you are balancing. If you don’t have proper balance, you won’t be able to hold the position and you might even fall over. So how do you keep your balance? You do this by working your core muscles. Another problem with not using your abs when you do lunges is that you can hurt your back (8). So always remember to work your muscles when performing this exercise. Here is how to do a lunge:

  • Step your right foot in front of you and your left foot behind you
  • Bend both knees
  • Make sure that you can see your toes and that your knee is not too far forward
  • Keep your back and shoulders straight
  • Alternate on each side, replacing your left foot with your right and vice versa

You can do both a forward lunge and a backward lunge. In a forward lunge, you are, of course, stepping one foot forward and then repeat on the other side. You can also perform a backward lunge where you are stepping one foot backward and then repeating. See also: How To Lose Weight Without Exercise: 7 Steps (With Pictures)   The Teaser  There is another great ab exercise that would be perfect for your 30 day ab challenge. It is called “the teaser” and you have most likely done it in a yoga, barre or pilates class. Here is how you do a teaser:

  • Lie down on your back on a mat or the floor
  • Lift your shoulders off the mat/floor and your legs at the same time
  • You will be in a “V” position
  • Lie back down on the mat and rest for a few seconds and then repeat several times

Once you perform this exercise even once, you will see how effective it is as your abs will start burning pretty much immediately. The teaser comes from the pilates world and it is great because it not only helps you with your balance but also engages your obliques and the core (9).   Bridge  Another effective core exercise is the bridge. This is a staple of yoga classes for a reason: if you do this properly, you are working your core muscles. Here is how you do a bridge:

  • Lie down on your back on a mat
  • Lift your hips up while keeping your shoulders on the mat
  • There are some variations as you get more advanced, such as lifting one leg up and then the other one, or dipping your hips up and down

  The Importance Of Strength Training  It’s important to keep strength training even if you are focused on your abs. The truth is that strength training both makes sure that some calorie burning is happening but that you are creating tissue in your muscles as well. You definitely want to get as strong and fit as possible if you want to see some results in your abs (10).  As Dr. Mercola writes, “The more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. Unlike traditional cardio, strength training causes you to continue burning more calories for up to 72 hours after the exercise is over through a process known as afterburn” (11). So what are some strength training exercises that you should focus on? Dr. Mercola suggests both squats and push-ups, and those are definitely great ideas.   Don’t Forget Cardio Now. It’s a good idea to incorporate some cardio into your fitness routine. There are also some cardio exercises that specifically work on your abs. Here are some cardio-focused ab exercises:

  • Mountain climbers: Hold a plank on your hands and bring your right knee up, then your left knee, and alternate, going slowly and then double time
  • Running mountain climbers: while holding a plank on your hands, run your knees in front of you
  • High knees: stand up tall and run your knees up as high as you can

The 30 Day Challenge For Better AbsWhat Food You Should Eat  There are two aspects of living a healthy lifestyle – both exercise and food. The truth is that what you are putting into your body matters. There are some foods that experts agree are great for your abs. These foods have either protein, fat or both, and that will prove very important. Here’s why you should eat salmon:

  • You will are decrease the amount of inflammation in your body
  • You will get in a good source of Omega-3 fat (12)
  • Research has shown that if you don’t have enough vitamin D in your diet, that ups your risk of obesity, particularly in the stomach area
  • Salmon is a great source of vitamin D
  • You are making sure that your weight stays as stable as possible and that you don’t experience any gains in your stomach area (13).

If you are a fan of adding an egg or two to your morning avocado toast, then you will be happy to know that experts say eating eggs is great for your abs. One egg has 6 grams of protein and is 70 calories, so enjoying two eggs ensures that you get a lot of protein for little caloric impact (14).  Here is why you need to include protein sources in your diet for flat abs:

  • You will allow your muscles to repair themselves when you are out of the gym
  • You will be fueled enough so that you can work hard when you exercise again (15)

Eating enough fat is also a crucial aspect of getting flatter abs. Salmon is a great source of healthy fat, along with coconut oil, olive oil, butter, avocado, and nuts and seeds. While some foods literally led to fat on your stomach, the healthy fats found in avocados are believed to not do that (16).   Lifestyle Factors  There are a few other things that you can do for a 30 day ab challenge. Besides performing these ab exercises and eating the right foods, you should also make sure that you are taking a few rest days every week. A good goal is working out five days and then resting for two. While you might want to power through seven workouts a week, that’s not the best idea. Your body needs time to get over the hard workouts that you have been doing. You will make sure that you don’t hurt yourself and your muscles will have time to recover (17). Another lifestyle factor to focus on is getting enough sleep. This is crucial for powering through your workouts, making healthy food choices, and feeling good in general. If you don’t get enough hours, you will want to eat much more than you normally would, and your junk food cravings will be out of control (18).   The 30 Day Ab Challenge  Now that you know which exercises are the best for your ab muscles, it’s time to put it all together. Go to your regular workout class or gym five times a week for a month (and take two days off for your rest days). You should be aiming for a combination of cardio and strength training, since these are both generally believed to be important. Then, after each workout, do these ab exercises. It takes a combination of eating the right foods and doing the right movements for you to get the abs that you are dreaming of, but it’s definitely possible if you put in the work and the time. Week 1

  • 5 workouts, 2 rest days
  • 1 minute bridge
  • 10 reps of bicycle crunches
  • 1 minute mountain climbers in plank
  • 1 minute plank hold

Week 2

  • 5 workouts, 2 rest days
  • 2 minutes of lunges: 1 minute lunging forward, 1 minute lunging backward
  • 1 minute plank hold

Week 3

  • 5 workouts, 2 rest days
  • 1 minute alternating forward lunges
  • 1 minute boat pose
  • 1 minute the teaser
  • 1 minute mountain climbers in plank
  • 1 minute plank hold

Week 4

  • 5 workouts, 2 rest days
  • 30 seconds the teaser
  • 1 minute bicycle crunches
  • 1 minute plank hold
  • 1 minute side plank hold on each side
  • 2 minutes plank variations

If you are ready to strengthen your core and end up with a flat stomach, then the 30 day ab challenge is definitely for you. From planks to plank variations to side plank, from lunges to bicycle crunches to a smart move called “the teaser”, you will work your core like you never have before and your challenge will be a great success.


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