Have you ever seen the movie, There’s Something About Mary? My favorite scene is where Ben Stiller picks up a psychotic hitchhiker who pitches him on his business idea, 7 Minute Abs. The guy tells him “You walk into video store, you see 8 minute abs sitting there and then you see 7 minute abs on the shelf right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick man?”. Then Ben tells him he would go for the 7. He then says it is a great idea until someone comes up with 6 minute abs. The guys freaks out a bit and his face twitches. It is a great scene! This article is about a very effective ab routine I have been doing the past month. It takes a little less than 10 minutes. I’ll be safe until someone comes up with a “9 minute abs” routine!
[“We guarantee it…If you’re not happy with the first 7 minutes. We are going to send you the extra minute free!”]
Planks…A Simple, Yet Effective Ab Exercise
Anyone who has been reading the posts on this site for a while knows I’m a HUGE fan of the plank exercise. I really enjoy doing the plank exercise, because it is the perfect ab exercise in my opinion. It has been proven to promote good posture and is a good exercise to do to protect against back injuries. Planks also promote even ab development. What I mean by that, is that this exercise seems to work the upper lower and mid part of the abdominal wall evenly. Planks also works all the “detail” muscles well that surround the abs…the obliques, intercostals, etc.
*Here’s a site that has a diagram of both the side plank and regular plank: http://www.abs-exercise-advice.com/plank.html
Why I Prefer Planks Over Other Ab Exercises
Other ab exercises generate contractions by shortening and curling your spine to a certain extent. Over time I believe this shortens the hip flexors and can create bad posture along with back problems for a lot of people. Planks, on the other had, generate strong contractions in a neutral position. Think about this…don’t you want to display defined six pack abs when you are standing or just lying in the sun? Well…planks are teaching your abs to contract hard in this same neutral position. You are basically training your abs to look sharp when your spine is in a natural position (which is most of the time).
Isometric Exercises Are Perfect For the Abs
The last thing you want to do when working your abs is to get puffy and bulky muscle surrounding your mid section. The abs are like any other muscle, they will increase in size if worked in a typical bodybuilding manner. You could do the 3-5 reps that I normally suggest to increase muscle density, I just don’t think it is practical or safe for your spine. Isometric exercises like the planks accomplish the same effect as low rep training…hard contractions without the breaking down of muscle. You will increase muscle density without an increase in muscle size. This is the secret to getting amazing looking abs.
Planks Are an Extremely Time Efficient Way to Work Abs
When you do a 2 minute plank, your muscles are contracting hard the entire 2 minutes. If you did a crunching movement for 2 minutes straight, your abs are only contracted for a portion of that time. I would bet that your abs are in a contracted state for less than 1/3 of the time when doing typical ab exercises. If you look at it this way, planks are about 3 times more efficient. You could do in 10 minutes what it would take you 30 minutes to do in a typical ab workout. Yes…I know this is WAY over simplifying the way exercising affects the body, but you get the point.
My Simple Yet Effective Ab Workout
1) Two minutes doing a right side plank
2) Two minutes doing a left side plank
3) Rest 30 seconds
4) Two minutes doing a regular plank
5) Rest 30-60 seconds
6) Two minutes doing an exercise ball plank
Note: You won’t be able to do this your first time out. You may have to cut it down to a minute for each set if you are a beginner. Once you get more advanced see if you can hold the exercise ball plank for over 2 minutes. Once you get really advanced, see if you can string all of this together without rest. If you don’t have an exercise ball, just do a regular plank on the floor again for 2 minutes. One last thing…2 minutes is going to feel like a lifetime on that last exercise!