Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 3:28 am | Fair 57º


Fun and Fit: Want Fab Abs? You’ve Come to the Right Place, Part I

The burning question: What are the best exercises for toning your way to a six-pack?

Dear Fun and Fit: What is the best exercise to work on your abs? — Yvette

What are the best exercises for toning abs? — Sally

What’s the most important move to do for lower abs? — Michelle

Kymberly: Ladies, ladies, no crowding, pushing, shoving and belly poking. We will get to your Fab-ulous Ab-ulous questions in one bulk package. We love questions that have the word “best” in them because they are so easy to answer. The “best” exercises are the ones you will shoo-be-doo-be-do.

Another way to determine the “best” ab exercises is to know your goal. We know, we know: “look hot.”

Let’s pretend that your goal includes working as many ab muscles at once as possible and enhancing ab function. Then you want to choose exercises that recruit the rectus abdominis (the abs that offer the six-pack look and flex your spine), the transversus (the abs that remind you of 1980s cumberbunds that guys wore at weddings — they stabilize and compress you), and the obliques (the diagonal muscles that wrap around your waist like a girdle and rotate, flex and extend you). It helps to know some ab anatomy, so read this article. Quiz at 11 a.m.

Therefore I like a pack o’ three that includes something that 1) stabilizes, 2) rotates and 3) focuses on bringing lower fibers into play. Three related questions from our belle-beauties; three suggested ab moves.

» Reverse curl (aka “reverse crunch”): Works from the bottom up, requires compression, targets the area most people want to look better (i.e., below the navel vs. above it), gets lots of oblique and rectus abdominis activity.

It helps to know ab anatomy to maximize workouts.
It helps to know ab anatomy to maximize workouts. (Creative Commons photo)

» Obliques bicycle rotational maneuver: Unless you are kicking your legs around as if doing lying down kickboxing or throwing a temper tantrum, this move involves all ab muscles in a big way and helps define the waist.

» Plank (aka “hover”): Requires compression and stabilization and is most like the way we use our abs to help with posture. An American Council on Exercise study has photos and more info on each of these moves. OK, OK, so the study was done waaaaay back in 2001. Last I checked, our ab anatomy had not changed since then.

Alexandra: For me, the most important move for all of my abdominals is to eat less and better. And that doesn’t include any chocolate-covered bugs, although I am a fan of the Supine Dead Bug.

K: Do you notice what is not on my top three list? Yeah, baby — stoopid crunches. Crunch, crunch, crunch. How much do you need the ability to flex forward? Not much going on with compression or rotation; not a lot of transversus action; not a move usually performed well; not an action needed a lot in daily life. (More on crunches in the upcoming “Get Fab Abs: Part 2.”)

It's yogurt. It's candy. It's so wrong.
It’s yogurt. It’s candy. It’s so wrong. (Creative Commons photo)

A: Nor is Cap’n Crunch. Or Crunch Berries. Maybe not YoCrunch either. I’ll have to think about it while I finish the one I just opened.

Which I’m sure has a very low number of useless kcals and won’t hide my chiseled (with a pick axe, or ice cream scooper) abs under a layer of adipose tissue (OK, that means “fat”). Crunch-a-Tize me, Cap’n!

Dear readers who have abs: Well, are you actually going to try the three exercises above? What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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