Abdominal training is very misunderstood. There is a common misconception that doing rep after rep and set after set of abdominal crunches every day will give you the six-pack you always wanted. It is a fact that no matter how many ab crunches you do, you will never be able to see your abs unless you have a low enough body fat percentage – and since there is no such thing as spot reduction, its pretty pointless doing all those crunches to get a six pack, unless you plan on doing so many that it will invoke a fat burning response. I can assure you there are many more effective ways to burn fat than doing ab crunches!

In order to see abs, most men have to reach a body fat level of about 10%, while women must reach about 14%. So quit spending your time on crunches and get busy doing some high intensity interval training and resistance based circuit training and work on increasing your lean muscle mass. You will see the consequent reduction in your body-fat level much faster, trust me!

Of course, your lifestyle and diet will also play a huge part in determining your body fat percentage. If you want that six pack for the summer holiday, then the next time you reach for the cookie jar I suggest you consider the statement – "abs are made in the kitchen". With a supportive eating plan and a healthy lifestyle you will see your abdominals flatten and become far more aesthetically pleasing than they ever were through exercise alone.

THAT'S A FACT.

Try these top tips for getting those flat abs you always wanted!

o Never diet

o Eat regularly to satisfy hunger

o Consume slightly smaller main meals

o Eat high quality food such as organic produce

o Drink plenty of water. Drink your bodyweight in Kg X 0.033 of water in liters per day

o Decrease the amounts of grains you eat

o Decrease the amount of dairy and wheat you consume

o Eat a source of protein at every meal

o Reduce your intake of processed food

o Make sure you get to bed on time

AND FINALLY !!

o Move your body

Abdominal function:

For you to train your abdominals properly it is important you know the role of them in the body and how they are separated.

Your abdominals are gross and dynamic stabilizers of the spinal and provide crucial support in all three planes of motion. The lower abdominal muscles are the deepest of the abdominal wall and play a vital role in the stability of the low back. The internal and external obliques are the next deepest abdominal muscles and provide the torso with most of its rotational strength and stability. Finally the upper abdominal muscles act further further during during strenuous and dynamic movements.

Functional abdominal training

Now you know which parts of the abdominals do what – here are some top tips to get a really good functional abdominal training session.

1. Always end your workout with your abdominal exercises as they are very important for stabilization. If you fatigue them before training other key movements you are increasing your chances of injury.

2. The lower abdominal musculature should be strengthened first, followed by the oblique, and finishing with the upper abdominals. This is because the upper abdominals are generally strong and require the least coordination to strengthen. The oblique and lower abdominals are both respectably weaker and require more coordinated movement patterns to strengthen.

3. Before exercising the lower abdominals it is important that the hip flexor muscles are stretched as they are greedy muscles, prone to shortening and tightening. Having tight hip flexors can affect your posture and cause you problems with lower back pain.

4. Exercise your abdominals like you exercise any other body part – do not bother with hundreds of crunches, you should be performing sets lying approximately approximately 30 seconds or 12 quality repetitions.

5. Rest between your training sessions and try not to train your abdominals until your muscles have recovered. Too much exercise will keep your muscles in a breakdown state. Not only will you not get good results, but you may injure yourself!

6. Do not use any machines or the ab roller for your ab training. They encourage poor function of the abdominal wall. Try using a Swiss ball for core conditioning. This is an effective tool to perform exercises with as the balance aspect of training on a Swiss ball will stress the stabiliser mechanism of the abdominals.

7. When performing ab exercises never support the neck as the deep neck flexors are part of the flexion system and need to be trained too. If you support the neck on say an ab roller, you will create a muscle imbalance leading to postural problems and neck pain!

Try this ab workout

1. Dynamic Hip Flexor Stretches

2. Lower Abdominal Alternate Leg Raises – 2 x 12

3. Hanging Leg Raise (bent leg) – 2 x 12

4. Oblique Crunches on a Swiss Ball – 2 x 12 each side

5. Oblique Plank – 30 second hold each side

6. Swiss Ball Crunches – 2 x till either the neck or abdominal fatigue

A competent personal trainer will be able to show you these exercises.