Getting rock hard stomach definitely makes you look good, but it can also make you feel good and improve your sporting abilities. When you strengthen your stomach muscles, you also make your back stronger. Working toward rock hard abs can therefore help you with such outdoor recreational activities as backpacking, rock climbing and skiing.
When doing ab exercises, make sure your ab muscles don't just feel tight when you squeeze them, but are flexible. Flexible ab muscles allow you to bend and stretch without feeling pain, which comes in handy when you are trying to scale a sheer cliff face. The authors of the book "The Male Body: An Owner's Manual" recommend an exercise they call the belly stretch to achieve flexibility and stretch your abs. Lie down on your back with your arms straight out above your head. Stretch your arms and legs as far as you can and hold for five to eight seconds before relaxing.
Seated Body Lift
The seated body lift is mentioned as being easier done without shoes in "Prevention's Ultimate Guide to Women's Health and Wellness." You can fit this ab routine into your at-home routine or your at-work routine, or anywhere where you have a chair. Sit up straight in a chair and place your hands on the sides of the chair, making sure they are positioned ahead of your hips. Squeeze in your ab muscles as you support your weight with your hands and pull your knees slowly up toward your chest. Be sure to keep your lower back resting against the back of the chair. Hold for a few seconds and then lower yourself to the starting position.
Hanging Knee Raise
The hanging knee raise is a tough, but effective exercise that you can do in a gym or fitness center. Use any bar-like device that can support your weight and allow you to hang without your feet touching the floor. Simply bend your knees and pull them up to your chest. The hanging knee raise is very good for marking your progress, because it can be very difficult to do at first, but over time, as your stomach muscles become stronger, you will be able to do more and more reps.
The centerpiece of any ab workout is the crunch. The basic crunch involves nothing more complicated than lying flat your back, bending your knees and keeping your feet flat on the floor. Curl your shoulders off the floor as you squeeze your stomach muscles. You can add some variety to this by doing the crossover crunch where you twist as you come up as if you were trying to touch your right knee with your left elbow and vice versa. You can add an extra dimension to the crossover crunch by bring the knee back to meet your elbow during the movement.
Article Written By Timothy Sexton
Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for Zappos.com, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.