First there was the sit-up. Back in the days, in boxing and martial arts classes, the coach would make us do these in hundreds. Needless to say, I hated every moment of it. And I did not much to show in way of 6-pack abs even after months all that daily grinding.
Okay, some of that (my lack of six-pack abs) was due to my own genetics, as some of my friends did have them. I tend to easily accumulate subcutaneous fat (see: what type of belly fat do I have) around my belly. But even when my bodyfat levels were low, the six-pack eluded me. Then along came the crunch.
Intuitively, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I felt the sit-ups more around my hips than belly. And, years later, I came to find out my intuition wasn’t that far off. Sit-ups do recruit hips and other muscles. Crunches do a better job of isolating the abdominals.
When I started doing crunches, things changed. Particularly effective for me was the hanging leg raise, using straps hanging ab-straps, so my arms wouldn’t before my abs and I therefore could crunch out a couple more after failure. That’s when my six-pack “came out”.
Boy, was I glad to kiss the sit-up goodbye. But now, apparently, there is a new king of abdominal brawn.
The No-Movement for 6-Pack Abs Move
Interestingly, the “movement” that is now being touted as the best exercise for your abdominals involves virtually no movement. It is no new kid on the block either, nor some “secret”.
In fact, you’ve most likely seen it being done or you have done it yourself. But according to doctors at Harvard, it is perhaps the most effective exercise for building 6-pack abs. What is it?
It is the good old plank.
For those who may not know what it is, the plank is an exercise that involves holding yourself holding yourself on your hands and feet, in a push-up position. It is also known as the front hold or abdominal bridge.
According to physicians at Harvard Medical School, traditional sit-ups and crunches are just not efficient for training your abs.
Now, like sit-ups planks do recruit other sets of muscles. But they do a much better job of targeting abs. Moreover, planks target muscles that support the core, and which you use every day. And they have a couple other advantages over conventional abs movements.
For one, conventional can cause pain and discomfort due to body mechanics. Many movements require pushing your body against the floor. They can also place a bit of stress on your lower back, including the tailbone.
Secondly, planks do not require any type of equipment or support, and can be done virtually anywhere anytime.
Hopefully, you do realize that you will not have 6-pack abs if you still have a layer of fat covering your belly. You therefore still need to reduce belly fat through other exercises and a sensible diet. You may also want to incorporate some vacuums—which like planks can be done anywhere—to reach deep within your belly.
You can read a more detailed report on this at the Business Insider website.