You sit at your desk for 8 hours a day. You sit in the cafeteria to eat lunch for an hour. You sit in the car for a 20-minute commute to and from work. You sit on the couch and unwind for 30 minutes. You hit the gym for an hour, but then come home and relax after your shower in front of the TV or computer. Then you turn off the lights and lay in bed for an hour until you fall asleep for 7 hours.
8h + 1h + 40m + 30m + 2h + 1h + 7h =
20 hours and 10 minutes
For 20 hours and 10 minutes of your day, your butt is parked in a chair or couch or car or bed – if you have an office job that is (for a fortunate few, your numbers may not look so daunting.)
Excessive sitting, as mentioned in More Reasons to Get Moving: Studies Reveal Sitting is Deadly, has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Even more likely, excessive sitting can lead to atrophy of the core muscles. That is why an ab routine is vital to your health and weight management.
Conditioning Your Core
The first place to start is with your posture. If you are sitting hunched over a computer – shoulders crouched forward, hump forming in the middle of your upper back – pull those shoulders back and engage those abdominal muscles to sit-up straight at your desk.
Then develop an ab routine to accompany your cardio and strength routine, at the very least three times a week. Your core is so important to your health. Core strength enhances your posture, reduces injury and a svelte core will definitely make your clothes fit better.
The Core Facts
1. Transversus abdominus. This is the deepest muscle layer that stabilizes the trunk and maintains internal abdominal pressure.
2. Rectus abdominus. This muscle is located between the ribs and the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis. This muscle characterizes the core – the bumps or bulges commonly known as “the six pack”. The main function of the rectus abdominus is to move the body between the ribcage and the pelvis.
3. External oblique muscles. This group of muscles is found on each side of the rectus abdominus. The external oblique muscles allow the trunk to twist. Contraction occurs on the opposite side of the direction you are twisting, i.e., if you twist right, your left external oblique contracts.
4. Internal oblique muscles. These are located on either side of the rectus abdominus, just inside the hip-bones.
Shake Up Your Core
Don’t think that doing the same sit-ups day after day is going to yield a strong core or the coveted “six-pack.” Choose a variety of abdominal exercises and include cardio and strength training around your routine. A strong core is imperative to preventing injury and maximizing movement, but if you want to see that sexy six-pack, you have to remove the fat – that’s where the cardio comes in.
A solid core is built with balanced nutrition and a disciplined workout routine. Google “ab workouts” – there are millions of websites dedicated to help you discover something new to add to your routine. And don’t forget – the body responds to “surprises” – so keep things varied to maximize results. (Check out K.I.C. Fitness for videos on TRX and kettle bell training and discover new ways to work your body and include your core.)
Core Exercise Ideas
The names don’t always tell you what to do, but you can Google most of these to get the gist.
- Lemon squeezes
- “C” crunches
- Pilates abs
- Side plank
- Star crunches
- Reverse crunches
- Hanging curls
- Hanging obliques
- Traditional crunches
- Floor wipers
- Bicycle crunches
- Swiss ball crunches
- BOSU Ball
- Hip bridges