Having a well-defined body is arguably every fitness enthusiast’s dream. However, possessing toned abs (abdominal section) is one to die for.
The journey to attaining such a bikini look for females or a six-pack for men involves exercises that touch all the muscles of the abdominal area.
Fitness trainer Robinson Joel, popularly known as Robby-Piyo, explains that achieving a toned or defined mid-section is only difficult when one does not understand how to engage the abdominal muscles through the right exercises, tempo and nutritional balance.
He says the exercises that define the mid-section include a combination of movements that target all four muscle groups in the abdominal area.
The muscles include the upper rectus abdominus, lower rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and external and internal obliques.
“While training the abs, one should engage in high reps ranges. For maximum contractions to burn the abdominal fats, between 25 and 30 reps in a slow tempo of one to three ratio counts of concentric and eccentric motions, respectively,” he explains.
The fitness trainer at Skynest Residences in Westlands adds that the mid-section also stores a lot of fat.
However, the fatty layer differs depending on one’s body type but it is more pronounced in women as it usually covers the abdominal muscles.
“This is where proper nutritional balance kicks in as one cannot simply exercise on a bad diet regime. One should significantly cut down on high saturated fats foods like deep-fried dishes and sugar,” says Robby-Piyo.
He recommends that since the objective is to reduce the overall body fat percentage, an individual must engage in high heart rate cardiovascular exercises at least for at least 20 minutes to supplement the abs muscles training.
“Consistency is of utmost importance and one should allow themselves room for patience if progress is slow,” says the trainer.
In addition to cardio and maintaining a diet devoid of saturated fats, Robby-Piyo recommends the following core exercises that an individual can perform to achieve a well-toned and firm core area.
This involves sitting holding a weight plate, dumbbell, kettlebell or sandbag with arms extended and feet off the floor. Quickly twist at the torso, turning from side to side. Repeat the movement for between eight and 12 reps in each set.
Russian twists are good core strength exercise as it is known for being heavy on isolation routines that touch on all the abdominal muscle groups, a move that is key to having defined abs.
The workout is a great core body exercise that targets the oblique and the lower rectus abdominus as it requires an individual to lift the weight of both the arms and legs by using the abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back and extend the arms behind the head while keeping the feet together and toes pointed. Keep the legs straight and lift them as you simultaneously raise your upper body off the floor.
Keep the core tight as you reach for your toes with your hands. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
Simple leg raises
This is a bodyweight exercise that targets the abdominal muscles, particularly the lower abs while also working for other muscle groups throughout the whole body, including the rectus abdominus, hip flexor muscles, hamstrings, and lower back muscles.
Lie face-up on an exercise mat with the legs straight and feet together then place the arms by the sides with the palms facing down, or the hands under the glutes. Then engage the core area while keeping your legs straight.
Arms positioned wide, lift the leg straight off the floor while engaging the lower abs and exhaling as you lift the leg up. Then slowly lower the leg but keep it suspended off the floor. The exercise targets the lower rectus abdominus.
This is an advanced abs workout that is a powerhouse for mid-section definition as the exercise targets both the obliques and rectus abdominus and it is also a full core workout as the move also requires support from the glutes and hip flexors.
Lying on the back is recommended to find something stable to hold to firmly. Engage the abs and lift the legs straight off the floor then slowly lower them horizontally towards either side while exhaling in the process.
In a plank position, push to down split to extend one leg up, drive the knee of the leg outwards to meet the outer elbow of the corresponding leg. The exercise targets the lower rectus and external obliques.
Plank knee side jumps
In a high plank position, contract the abs then bring the bent knees forward jumping to the side of the body. Return to the starting position and then jump to the opposite side. Exhale and exaggerate the contraction as you hop while keeping the abs engaged.
The trainer says there can be different variations and works the lower, transverse and external obliques.
“Incorporating above basic routines should comfortably ensure one notices visible changes within three weeks at least,” avers Robby-Piyo.