Getting six-pack abs is easier than you think.
A recent study looked into the most effective technique to build your deep abdominal muscles, which are the muscles on the front of your stomach that either make or break your six-pack look, depending on what kind of shape they’re in!
The results were actually quite surprising. You’d think that the largest activators of deep abdominal tissue would be “big” abdominal exercises like leg swings and torso twists, or perhaps even the squats and deadlifts you learned about in the Best Ab Exercises episode.
But it turns out that when it comes to those deep ab muscles, techniques called “bracing,” “hollowing,” and “planking” are even more effective!
You’re probably already familiar with planking, and here’s a video that shows you abdominal bracing and abdominal hollowing. The nice thing is that you can do hollowing and bracing anywhere, even when you’re standing in line at the grocery store. To hollow, just suck your abs in like you’re trying to button up your jeans, and to brace, contract your pelvic muscles like you’re trying to stop the flow of urine (similar to a Kegel exercise).
Pardon the expression, but a good way to think about the combined motion of these two exercises is to “suck your butthole up towards your bellybutton.”
Bet you won’t forget that visual!
Finally, in case you care to read the researcher’s descriptions of the best six-pack exercises in full detail, here they are:
- Abdominal bracing: In a standing neutral-spine position with the feet shoulder-width apart, participants were instructed to activate the abdominals maximally without hollowing the lower abdomen.
- Abdominal hollowing: In the same position as for the abdominal bracing task, participants were instructed to draw the navel maximally in toward the spine.
- Prone plank: In a prone position on the floor with the elbow angle at 90 deg (180 = full extension) and the forearms placed underneath the chest, pelvis raised off the floor and their body weight distributed on the forearms and toes, the subjects were instructed to maintain a flat position.
- Lateral plank: While lying on the right side on the floor with the right elbow bent at 90 deg and positioned directly under the shoulder, pelvis raised off the floor and their body weight distributed on the forearms and the right side of the foot, the subjects were instructed to maintain the position.
- Supine plank: In a supine position on the floor with the elbow angle at 90 deg and the forearms placed underneath the back, pelvis rose off the floor and their body weight distributed on the forearms and heels, participants were instructed to maintain the position.
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