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Correct Abdominal Training

Work The Core

Abdominal muscles, unlike other muscle groups, can be worked every day. The problem is that they're one of the easiest muscle groups to train incorrectly, so to overtrain them wrong is a common mistake.

Start with your body correctly aligned:

Lie on your back, with hips neutral (no over-arched backs or curled-under tailbones);

Knees bent, feet flat on the ground;

Your navel pulled back toward your spine and up toward your ribcage;

Breathe deeply and evenly.

Think of your abdominal cavity as one long muscle group, not in terms of "upper" and "lower" abs. The goal is to extend and strengthen the muscle fibers from your pelvic bone all the way up to your rib cage.

To set your abs properly before you begin, cough a couple of times. See how that contraction feels? It encompasses all of your abdominal muscles and shows your mind how a proper contraction should feel. Your muscle fibers have memory, so doing it properly from the beginning will ensure proper form forever.

Now this time, cough again, but hold the contraction in your muscles and continue breathing deeply. Concentrate on tightening your abs from just above your bladder and extend up through your middle stomach almost to your breastbone. Hold it, and now your abdominal muscles are properly set to begin the exercise correctly. (Feel your stomach with your hands. It should feel more solid. Put your hands around your waist. It should be drawn in a little and feel significantly tighter.)

Begin the exercise by lifting your feet slowly one at a time, in a march-like movement, from the floor up until your knee is above your hip. The angle at your knee should stay the same throughout the movement (120 degrees). Lower your leg slowly all the way to the floor before you repeat with the other leg. Keep your lower back neutral and your abdominal muscles lengthened and contracted the full motion. Work up to 40 repetitions on each side.

This exercise will train your abs inward, nurturing a smaller waistline. Incorrect ab training sometimes causes your stomach to bulge unnaturally.

Balance your abs with the muscles in your lower back using the following exercise:

Lie face-down on the ground. Stretch your arms over your head. Lift your left arm and right leg simultaneously 3 inches off the ground. Keep your leg locked at the knee and your hip bones touching the ground. Repeat with your right arm and left leg. Do 15 repetitions on each side.

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