Abs – the ultimate workout

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If you’ve spent the last decade crunching to coax those elusive abs out from under your spare tyre, it’s time to listen up.

Crunches alone will not miraculously melt away your middle. (Here’s why you should get up now. Before it’s too late!)

Without a concurrent HIIT program to burn the blanket of body fat enshrouding your six pack, the fat will remain and, as the muscle beneath it develops, you may look bulkier.

The problem with crunches, apart from big questions about their role in vertebral degeneration, is that they focus almost exclusively on rectus abdominus (the exterior abdominal muscle).

If your goal is a strong, toned tummy you need to be optimising your workout time with exercises that blast your entire core, not just the outside. Contrary to common belief, the core is not a single muscle or organ, but comprises pelvic floor muscles, external obliques, internal obliques, rectus abdominus, multifidus, erector spinae and transverse abdominus (TVA). Got that?

Plus: Lower back carpet burn is not a good look.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) plus Isometric Abdominal Training (IAT)

Short, sharp, intense bursts of cardio rip the fat right off the top of your abs, while the strategic series of static muscle contractions in IAT will give you more precision than Michelangelo’s David.

HIIT can gel with your current training crush

Whether you run, cycle or rollerskate, you can step it up to ab-blasting level in just 15 minutes. Believe it. Instead of running at moderate pace for 45 minutes, sprint as fast as you can for a number of seconds, then wind back to a lower intensity for the remainder of the minute, and repeat until you hit the 15 minute mark. For beginners, try 10–15 seconds/60 seconds; intermediates can step up to 15–30/45–60 and advanced exercisers should aim for 30/30.

Uh-uh-uh, let us finish.

It’s totally worth doing the IAT bit. You can’t see it, but when you hold a plank or other isometric pose, muscle fibres are pulled from both ends of the contracting muscle – not just one section – meaning your body recruits more muscle fibres than if you were changing the joint angle. Think decline static holds, side bridge, plank and lying leg holds. Your abs will develop those fine lines you do want, and get stronger. Snap.

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