Beginnings are always tough, that’s how our life works and physical activity, particularly ab training isn’t an exception. You’re already aware of the fact that most people give up on just about anything at the very beginning, without even realising that strong willpower and consistency are the key towards smoother progression. If you want to get the most out of your ab exercise program, you have to maximise your workouts to build momentum. But how? This article brings you a few tips and tricks to bear in mind.
1. Master form
Most people go by the motto that any exercise is better than no exercise at all. That’s why they incorporate different exercises into their workouts but don’t really pay attention to the proper form or execution while doing them. Mastering the correct form will help you avoid injuries, allow you to perform your exercises better and with more ease, and you’ll also improve your posture and flexibility. On the other hand, exercising with poor form constantly can only make your ab (or any other) training more difficult and ineffective.
2. Take it slow, at first
Nowadays, ab exercises are largely associated with speed and you’ve probably tried, on more occasions than one, to finish your exercises as soon as possible. That happens because people believe the faster you do the workout, the better. Ab training isn’t a 100 meter sprint and you’re not competing against Usain Bolt. When you’re just a beginner, you should take it slow and focus on mastering the form, as mentioned above. Don’t aim to finish your routine as soon as possible. One properly executed rep is better than 10 fast and poorly executed moves.
3. Focus on contraction
Ab training requires stronger core and activation of different muscle groups. To accomplish this, you have to pay attention to contraction i.e. engaging these muscles. This is quite tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. But once you master the skill of contracting abs intentionally, you’ll easily do it while performing some exercises and make your training more effective. The best way to learn ab contraction is to do the following:
- Lie flat on the ground and bend the knees, placing feet flat on the floor hip-width apart
- Extend arms alongside you with palms facing down
- Press lower back into the ground so that your pelvis slightly lifts up and inhale deeply
- Exhale slowly while pulling your bellybutton in toward the spine in a bid to achieve full contraction of abdominal muscles
- Inhale, making sure you don’t lose the contraction, try to suck in as much air as you can while holding the contraction
4. Progress when you master both form and contraction
As a beginner you’re probably in a hurry to progress by pushing yourself to do more than your body, especially abdominal region, can take at this point. The success of every workout also depends on one’s ability to listen to their body. You’ll achieve greater ab workout success if you progress or start doing more demanding routines only when you master both form and contraction. Basically, you should gradually increase the intensity of your exercises when it becomes too easy to do them even when you contract your abs. Then, you can increase the number of reps, do variations, or include equipment like Swiss ball, dumbbell etc. into your routine. Don’t push yourself to do more demanding movements without mastering the easier ones.
5. Alternate exercises
Your body hates monotony as much as you do and if you do the same exercises all the time, your abdominal muscles won’t be challenged to work more. With hundreds of different exercises and difficulties to choose from, you should strive to implement something new to your workout frequently. For example, besides standard crunch, you can also start doing different variations of this popular exercise.
6. Pay attention
Do you tend to “zone out” while doing your exercises? Do you watch TV, listen to music, or think about something else, to make it seem like the workout is going by faster? As soon as you mentally check out, you reduce the intensity the body works your abs. As a result, you decrease your overall muscle recruitment. Not paying attention to everything you do while exercising keeps you away from accomplishing your goals. Mind-muscle connection is important, so make sure you are mentally checked in during your next workout.
Every beginner can get maximum benefits from an ab workout by taking the time to focus on the overall process and to progress gradually. Forcing your body to do something it’s not ready for is always bad and doesn’t allow you to achieve results you want.
Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.