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A Six-Pack Worthy Core Workout: Fit Check
You’re sure to break a sweat using the Tabata method with this 16-minute core workout By Melissa Romero
Comments () | Published November 23, 2011

We’ve all yearned for it: a hard-core six pack a la Michael Phelps or Jillian Michaels. But after what seems like hundreds of daily crunches, there are no signs of improvement.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that even doing 300 crunches a day won’t get you that coveted six-pack. “No amount of abdominal exercises to develop these muscles will make that happen,” says Ryan Stitt, personal training manager at Vida Fitness on U Street. “It’s more about eating right and burning enough fat.”

There are four main core muscle groups, explains Stitt. The rectus abdominus muscles make up one’s normal “six pack,” and transverse abdominus muscles help draw in the belly button. Then there are the obliques and lower back.

Strengthening these four muscle groups will do more than help you get a flat stomach. “Having a strong balance among all of those muscle groups is important for preventing back pain and performing all other activities in the gym correctly, with good form,” Stitt says.

It’s also not necessary to do core exercises with every workout. “They’re a muscle group like any other,” Stitt says. He recommends incorporating core exercises throughout a regular workout. Then, give the muscles 48 to 72 hours of rest.

“This isn’t a muscle group that needs to lift heavy weights for a few reps. It’s a muscle group that needs to be strong day in and day out. That means higher reps and shorter break times,” Stitt says.

That’s where the Tabata method comes in. Developed by Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata, the method provides both anaerobic and aerobic benefits, an optimal blend of strength and cardiovascular fitness.

The Tabata method involves 20 seconds of high-intensity effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat that eight times, so that each exercise lasts for four minutes. Watch the following core exercise video, and try these four exercises that work the four core muscle groups.

Exercise 1: V-Up
Muscles Worked: Rectus Abdominus
Reps: 20 seconds, then 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times.

Lie flat on your back with your arms extended behind your head. Use your core and chest to raise your arms and legs together so that your body is in a V shape. Lower them back down so your arms and legs barely touch the floor. Exhale on your way up and inhale on your way down. Do this for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do this eight times.

Exercise 2: Superman
Muscles Worked: Lower Back
Reps: 20 seconds, then 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times.

Lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you. Lift both feet and arms using your lower back muscles. Hold this position, then slowly bring your arms and legs back down so they barely touch the floor. Exhale on your way up and inhale on your way down. Do this for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do this eight times.

See Also:

Weight Lifting for Beginners

Video Tour of Vida Fitness on U Street

Exercise 3: Side Plank
Muscles Worked: Obliques
Reps: 20 seconds, then 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times.

Lie on your side with your feet stacked. Place your elbow underneath your shoulder, lifting yourself up so only the side of your foot and arm below the elbow are touching the floor. Use your arm to support your body weight. For balance, lift the other arm above your head. Hold this for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do this eight times.

Exercise 4: Plank
Muscles Worked: Transverse Abdominus
Reps: 20 seconds, then 10 seconds of rest. Repeat eight times.

Lie on your stomach. Place both elbows underneath your shoulders and use them to support your body weight. You should be using your toes as lower-body support. Your body should be straight line. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do this eight times.

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  • Your exercise and diet tips have enlightened me with my workout. I used to believe that I could get a six-pack abs by doing lots of crunches a day. Hopefully your new workout suggestion would work for me.

  • Crunch exercises are always good and they are really very effective if you want to get six pack abs fast.

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Posted at 12:31 PM/ET, 11/23/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs