“Six Pack Abs” and “Six Minute Abs” are just some of the programs and exercise devices created to help you manage your midsection. But in reality it comes down to building up your strength and burning the fat which sits on top of your abdominal muscles.
It amazes me when I look around the gym and see many people forcing and thrusting their head and neck forward in an effort to complete an abdominal exercise. I also see a lot of people using momentum instead of their abdominal strength to pull themselves up higher on a sit-up.
A true abdominal exercise involves abdominal and core strength first. This is the powerhouse of the body and to get it strong initially, it does not matter how high we can sit-up while doing a pseudo crunch. The core abdominal, mid- and lower-back muscles help support your posture.
I remember one of my friends complaining to me about how her arms and neck hurt from using the ever popular Roman Chair. This staple piece of equipment in most gyms has you holding yourself up on your forearms with your legs dangling.
One of the exercises performed on the Roman chair has you bending your knees and bringing them up into a 90 degree angle. If your abs are not already strong enough to keep you up in the first place you may hurt yourself. I want to add that this is an excellent piece of equipment for you to progress to once you are strong enough.
For beginners, I like the stability ball to help you build your core strength. One of the main benefits of using the ball comes from its functional aspects. Your muscles must work to keep the ball stable during exercise movements. It challenges your core muscles, making you stronger from the inside.
Much of what is now hitting the mainstream fitness world, comes from the Pilates world. My main focus in both my training and career right now is in Pilates, because I see how important it is to strengthen your core for overall health, well being and functional strength.
I have always said that posture and core strength are the roots of all exercises.