Long ago a friend and I were comparing workout routines. It’s basically the elliptical or the treadmill followed by ab work for her. She’s not looking any more buff than she did 6 months before asking me about my routine and she does this regularly. She does LOTS of cardio. Still does for that matter and still looks the same as she did about two years ago when we were discussing this. I was pretty damn buff back then. I'm still in good shape, but back then... damn... I had muscles. So anyway, she asked me about my routine and asked for me to show it to her.
There were two huge differences in our routines. Make that three. First, I don’t do steady state cardio unless I'm running and I’m unlucky if I end up having to do more than four or five minutes of cardio during a workout session. Even running, I try to do intervals. My “cardio” consists of tabata or intervals running up and down steps. Second, I lift real weights. I don’t use machines (except the cable/pulley). I lift actual dumb bells (which is anything over fifteen pounds in my book). Third is those ab exercises. I have only one exercise per workout for abdominal. Why? Because if you’re lifting heavy stuff off the floor, you’re going to work your abs anyway stabilizing your back and core to lift the damn thing without ending up in the hospital. So, no need for ten minutes or a half hour a day dedicated to working on crunches.
I tell people not to waste their time on those and they get mad at me. Maybe it’s my tone… I’ll try to say it nicely next time ;).
Pretty much everything we do works our abs. Even running works them, particularly from my experience my weak obliques (no, they’re not really weak, but they hurt like hell after my first few runs of the season which was finally today by the way). Lifting yourself up onto something works them to stabilize your core so you don’t have to fight your floppy self while lifting yourself up. Lifting dead weight (like a potato sack) is much more difficult than lifting a child that will grab onto you to lift. Same thing with your body. If it’s as limp as a potato sack, it’s going to be harder to lift. If your abs are doing their job, it’ll be easier to lift yourself. And your abs will be doing their job, they just can’t help it most of the time.
If you REALLY want to work your abs for a long time, do one ab exercise and then mix one in with another exercise. If you must, do walking lunges with a twist or a lean. Or, skip the ab exercise and just do the lunges with the lean or twist. Course, you should know your limits so don’t do anything that would cause yourself harm.
So two things I don't like in the fitness world- cardio machines and ab exercises.
I’m not a trainer or anything so my advice is pretty useless :D, but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll write whatever useless stuff I want. So there :P.
Go get your six pack! (or a six pack of beer, whatever works).