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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Achieving Six-pack Abs

I believe I have found the right mix of exercises to get me my 6-pack abs! Obviously I will be doing this in combination with:

1) Losing weight 

I don't really need to but I do need to lower my overall body fat percentage a bit so that my abs can be seen. I realize that it is impossible to target specific parts of my body to lose fat. So this will be an overall fat loss for my entire body. 

I found this website that is pretty useful if you want to roughly gauge how much body fat you have without buying those expensive fat measurement tools.

According to this website (called AthleanX.com) I have a Body Fat Percentage of : 24 – 26%

"This body fat percentage is considered the low range of average for women in many body fat charts.  At this level a woman is generally considered to look slim, but not too skinny.  Curves in the hips, thighs and buttocks will be apparent at this range."

To get my 6-pack I want to reach a Body Fat Percentage of: 18 – 20% 

"The 18 – 20% body fat range is a more reasonable target range for women who are after that ‘athletic’ look because it’s easier to maintain than the higher levels.  This body fat range is the one that’s most associated with a killer bikini body! At 18 – 20%, you can still see strong ab muscles, but the six pack may not be as defined.  While there’s a small amount of fat on the hips, thighs and bum it’s not very noticeable.  Many women reaching for higher levels of fitness prefer this look since it retains some curves."

Definitely go to the website if you want to read more about these different ranges. I chose this range because it seems like the more realistic goal for me, a normal person, who is not a professional athlete. 

 2) Lifting more weights in general. 

Weight training has always been secondary to my running. But since I'm not officially training right now I want to make weights more of a priority. I will still run. (Duh) Like I said in my last post I will run 5 days a week as my challenge. (This will also help me to lose more weight). 

There is a great youtube channel called ZuzkaLight and she has seriously hard workout programs on there. I know I've mentioned her channel before. Once I finalize my weight program I will update the blog.

3) Incorporating more back exercises

Rarely, if ever, do I focus on my back. I read somewhere online that when focusing on your abs you also need to strengthen the back. This helps to give you balance and not wreck your posture. Again, once I put together my back routine I will share it on the blog.

How to Get Six-pack Abs

Okay, now to the nitty-gritty. Here is how I will exercise my abs. I found this great fountain of information on WikiHow and I plan to follow it as exactly as I can. So check it out for more details. 

The AthleanX website also has a youtube channel where I found this really informative video on how to target all the muscle groups in the abs.

I recommend watching the video if you want more detailed explanations and examples of exercises to do. But here is what I understood from the video and from the Wiki. (You can google all these exercises and then click on images to see what they are like)

a) Bottom up including rotation --These are exercises that stabilize the upper body while the lower body is working the abs.
  • pendulum/windshield wipers
  • butt ups
  • using a stability ball get into plank position with insteps of feet resting on the ball. Bring the ball up to your chest and to the side, go back to start position. Repeat alternating sides.
b) Lower ab movement
  • leg raises (with or without a stability ball)
  • reverse crunch
c) Mid-range movement (also called both up) -- Mainly exercises that move the upper and lower body simultaneously
  • jacknife sit ups
  • V-sit up
  • medicine ball toe up
d) Top down including rotation (upper ab movement)--These exercises move the upper body while stabilizing the lower body
  • ab roller
  • crunches on stability ball (placing legs on a wall)
  • sit ups
e) Obliques--If you don't know these are the muscles that run up and down the sides of the abs
  • side crunch with leg lift
  • bicycle crunches
f) Resisted extension movement (upper body)-- Where forces want to pull you backwards but you won't let it
  • core death march
  • dead lifts
  • side plank with weights
  • hold arms out in front of you and rest them against a door frame. Try to push your arms into the frame. Obviously the door won't move and your hands shouldn't either.
g) Resist rotation movement (lower body) --Any exercise that forces you not to move your abs. This type of isometric move is a key function of the abs that is often times not trained.
  • hold plank (in normal push up position) and bring legs to chest
  • lunges with weights
The list of ab exercises that fit into these categories are endless but I figure this a good list to get me started. I plan to start this regimen (including the back exercises and weights) in October. So it should give me a bit of time to get my head right and get the rest of the exercises together.

I would like to create a photo diary but I'm not sure yet. If I do I will take the first picture in October and update it every month to track my progress. 

However, I will probably post the pictures to the blog every couple of months? Not sure yet but I feel like I do need something visual to track my progress.

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