"What's the best abs workout?" I 've probably heard this question a million times. It happens everywhere I go. The other question is "how do I get rid of this", usually as that person is grabbing a chunk of their belly, just to make sure I understood exactly what "this" means. The answer is actually quite simple. 1. Eat better 2. Burn as many calories as you can. The subject of nutrition is endless, but most people have the common sense to know what "eat better" means. It doesn't mean you have to start making cookies with quinoa and chia seeds (GROSS!!) It just means eat a few more vegetables and fruits, and less of the junk like potato chips, candy, or peanut butter cup pie. Again, the subject of nutrition could go on forever so I'll just stop there.
The other part in this quest for the elusive six pack is the workout. The goal is to burn as many calories as you can. So lets consider two things...
1. Every single athlete I've ever trained has come to me with a performance goal of getting stronger, faster, quicker or some combination of all three. I've never had an athlete ask me for hips, abs, thighs, or arms. Never. After weeks of training, they leave accomplishing the goals that they originally had, but they also leave with hips, abs, arms, and thighs, that most people would dream of having. That's because fitness is a product of performance and not the other way around.
2. There is no such thing as spot reduction!! Calories aren't just the number that's listed on the back of food items. Calories are an energy source for the body. When the body needs energy for certain activities, the body will burn calories. The more strenuous the activity, the more calories you will burn both during and after that activity. However, your body doesn't deliver this energy source based on location. Just because you did a thousand crunches, doesn't mean your body will burn fat only from your abdominals. In fact your wasting time.
So now that we've established those two things, let's revisit the question "What is the best abs workout?"...
The best "abs" exercise is a true SPRINT! I'm not talking about running at a pace for your best mile ever. I'm talking about running as if you had 10 seconds to get away from a bomb that was about to go off. That is a true sprint. It involves using every muscle in your body to exert as much force as possible. Have you ever seen an Olympic sprinter with a gut? I'm willing to bet that if you had the body of a sprinter you'd be pretty happy. So why not train like them? Their bodies work just like yours. Now of course, this doesn't mean that you can run 100m in less than 10 seconds. However, your body uses energy and creates movement the same way. So let's break down the movement and what is demanded of the body in a sprint vs a traditional abs exercise
Movements: Triple Flexion, Triple Extension, Shoulder Extension/Flexion, Core Stability
Muscles: Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus, Internal & External Obliques, Multifidus, Erector Spinae...... Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, Gracilis, Sartorius, Adductor Longus, Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Minimus, Illiopsoas, Latismus Dorsi, Deltoids, Pec Major, Pec Minor.....this could take the whole page but you get the point
Traditional Abs Exercise
Movements: Flexion, Extension or Rotation of the Spine
Muscles: Rectus Abdominus, Transverse Abdominus, Internal & External Obliques, Multifidus, Erector Spinae
In a sprint, you will be using your abs, but you will also be using so many more muscles, demanding more of your body, and burning more calories. You will also be tapping into an energy system that is seldom used and extremely beneficial in burning calories, building muscle, and developing cardiovascular health. Here is a sample sprint workout for a beginner...
- Foam Roll, Movement Prep, Dynamic Flexibility, Glute Activation - 15 minutes
- A skip, B skip, Power Skip,
- Bounding 20 yards x 5
- 50 yard Sprints, walk back to the starting line for recovery, after 5 reps, rest for 2 minutes and then do another 5.
- Foam Roll, Stretch