Overdoing abdominal exercises is one of the biggest time wasting activities I can think of. Getting a lean tummy is about reducing body fat percentage via clean and healthy nutrition, exercise and rest. The exercises must be compound (involving as many muscle groups as possible), calorie consuming and regular. Nutrition should be clean, healthy and worthy of a 6 pack. Rest must be adequate, well timed and appropriate.
BUT! Certain abdominal exercises are better than others and have much more complexity than meets the eye. Cycle crunches is one of them. When done properly it is not only one of the best exercises for training the obliques (sides), rectus abdominus (front), transverse abdominus (deep), but also the core (much of everything else). Perfect exercise on its own or at the end of your usual training routine.
How to do it: start with 1 minute per set. Do 1-2 sets with a little rest in between. Once this is easy lengthen the time per set.
1. While on your back bring both legs up: 90 degrees at the knees, 90 degrees at the hips.
2. At this point the lower back should be neutral (a natural subtle curve at the base of the spine – not hyper-extended).
3. Bring your palms behind your head.
4. Bring the elbows wide. They should be out of your peripheral vision.
5. Inhale to prepare and gently bring your chin down: imagine you are holding a small apple between your chin and your chest.
6. Exhale to tighten the lower abdominals (belly button in towards the lower back) and at the same time lift upper body just off the shoulder blades. (Lead with your chest not the head as this will keep pressure off the back of your neck.) Here you are in a stomach crunch.
7. Exhale: extend one leg and twist towards the bent knee. NB. lead with your shoulder not the elbow.
8. Inhale: return to the middle. Both knees bent chest facing forward.
9. Exhale extend the other leg and twist to wards the opposite knee that is now flexed.
- The most important thing is not to rock from one buttock to the other. Keep the pressure even on both glutes by redistributing your weight through the body to keep the load symmetrical.
- Keep the lower back in a neutral lumbar curve without imprinting or hyper arching.
- Emphasise lengthening of the extending leg.
10. Speed up moving from one side to the other without stopping in the middle. But only if you can keep your hips from rocking side to side.
How NOT to do it:
1. Slowly lie down on your back, taking time to check that everyone is looking.
2. Loose yourself in a flurry of knees and elbows, flailing your limbs with the moves like Jagger.
With Healthy Wishes,
Introduction to the 31 Day Fitness Kickstart
Day 1 – Water
Day 2 – Protein at breakfast
Day 3 – Meal frequency
Day 4 – Sugar
Day 5 – Lifestyle
Day 6 – Carbohydrates
Day 7 – Sleep
Day 8 – Start easy with Cardio – frequency not the quantity.
Day 9 – Get clever with your fats!
Day 10 – Find or become a role model
Day 11 – Coffee
Day 12 – Exercise improves your appetite response.
Day 13 – Consistency over intensity
Day 14 – Add cinnamon to your diet
Day 15 – Energising morning fix
Day 16 – Active rest
Day 17 – Holistic fitness.
Day 18 – Minimise muscle loss.
Day 19 – Don’t forget steady paced cardio
Day 20 – Eat plenty of fibre
Day 21 – Take up a physically demanding hobby.
Day 22 – Hire a qualified and an experienced Personal Trainer
Day 23 – Eat Cake
Day 24 – Don’t forget that the feeling of hunger is the best cue for when to eat
Day 25 – Tune in to your training
Day 26 – Sort out the calorie density of your meals.
Day 27 – Eat more grapefruit
Day 28 – Eat within an hour after your workout!
Day 29 – Stay in the low range of Glycaemic Index and Glycaemic Load
Day 31 – Learn to listen to your body