Health and fitness: Turn that kegger into a six-pack

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By Kent Pegg

Everyone wants to have great abs. Abs that look lean and tight can be an attractive feature on anyone’s body. But, as important as it is to have good abs for appearance, everyone needs good abs for the well being of their body.

Strong abs help prevent and minimize lower back injuries and pain and help us maintain good posture. And, strong abs provide stability for the body by strengthening your body’s core.

Core stabilization is essential for all sport and outdoor activities and for being able to perform activities of daily living and increasing basic functionality. Think of the core of your body as the connector between your upper body and your lower body. The stronger the connection, the better the foundation you provide your body.

To get the most out of your ab work, you won’t need any fancy devices or machines advertised in infomercials. If that ab rocker or ab roller will get you out of the chair and on the floor to exercise your abs then maybe it’s worth the money but the floor work you can do without these aids is actually better for developing the abs.

Ab exercises focus mainly on two areas: the rectus abdominus or the muscle in the front of your body, and the obliques or the muscles on the sides of your body.

To work the rectus abdominus, try exercises like crunches, reverse crunches (or leg lifts) and crunches with your legs up. If you belong to a gym use their captain’s chair to do leg raises or try some crunches on an exercise ball.

Good exercises for your obliques include bicycle maneuvers, oblique crunches, and crunches where you bring your shoulder toward your opposite knee. At the gym, utilize the rotary torso machine to strengthen and shape your obliques.

If you’re unsure how to perform any of these exercises, try taking an ab class or getting some advice from a fitness professional to reduce the risk of injury and make sure you’re getting the most out of your ab workout.

Remember that the ab muscles respond best to high-frequency and high-volume training rather than high-intensity training. That means that you don’t need to add weight to your ab exercises. To get better abs train them frequently for a longer period of time.

When training abs, I do 20-to-30 minute of floor exercises about five days per week. Don’t worry about overtraining your abs as much as other parts of your body. The ab muscles are almost always engaged and working during your daily activities, so they can take and need the additional volume of training.

Most everyone has a spare 15-to-20 minutes available sometime during the day, so take advantage of any opportunity you have to get on the floor and do some ab work.

If you have a time of day when you usually watch television, use this time for your ab exercises. You can still watch your favorite show and get your ab work in at the same time. Plus, by doing ab exercises while you watch television, you’ll prevent yourself from sitting on the couch eating a bunch of unneeded calories.

And you’ll have to watch those extra calories if you want those six-pack abs. No matter how strong your abs, they won’t look the way you want if they’re covered by layers of fat.

So begin or increase your ab work today. Your body will be healthier and more fit and pretty soon you’ll be showing off your new look.

Kent Pegg is a certified personal trainer and the owner of the Los Alamos Fitness Center. If you have any questions about the information or exercises in this story, call him at 662-5232.