The elusive six-pack is on most people’s minds when they head to the gym. We’ll try any core exercise thinking that the more we can perform, the more likely we’ll achieve this dream.
However, speak to any personal trainer and you’ll be advised the best way to seek a six-pack is to first sort our your diet and improve your nutrition, yet we still persist on thinking perform ab exercises will one day give us the six-pack we desire.
Of course, you still need to work on and strengthen your core, to see any definition, even if you drastically improve your diet. The problem is, as we’ve discussed before, most people turn to the tried-and-tested exercises such as the sit-up and similar exercises.
Ryan states that you need to work on all the muscles that surround your core, including the upper and lower abdominals, obliques (side ab muscles) and transverse abdominis (located underneath your obliques), saying that “when you’re trying to build abs it’s all about targeting and hitting all of the different muscle groups in your midsection separately”.
The problem with crunches, sit-ups and similar exercises is that they most effectively work on core muscle group, with Ryan adding that “a lot of people trying to get abs will do everything in a crunching motion, but if you really want to sculpt and tighten your waist you need to be hitting all of these muscle groups with different exercises”. Ryan also things that performing lots of crunches can work against your goals, widening your waist when you really are aiming to trim down to release those elusive abs.
According to Ryan, the single most effective core exercise you can perform is the Hanging Leg Raise. You’ll need to find a pull-up bar to perform this exercise, keep your upper body straight, raising your straight legs up towards the ceiling, bringing them horizontal to your body, then lowering slowly. Repeat.
Why does Ryan think this is the single most effective core exercise? The move incorporates the transverse abdominis, supports your lower back, whilst the crunching motion works your upper and lower abs and the added body weight works the very bottom of your abs. You also get to improve your grip strength, too.
Strengthening your core shouldn’t be limited to performing hanging leg raises. Ryan suggests you add other exercises such as the Wood Chop, which will work your obliques. He also advises on a Russian Twist, Weighted Crunches using the rope machine and then hold a Plank which will keep the midsection toned and tight.