I maintain steadiness in my life by focusing on the investments I can influence, not the ones I can’t. That’s why I put a huge emphasis on my health. My tried-and-true routine: Hitting the gym for an hour before work. Not only do these morning ab workouts pay dividends on the mental front by providing a welcomed stress outlet, but also, they’ve made me into the best shape of my life.
A lot of the credit goes to my personal trainer, John Sitaras. In our weekly sessions, he has taught me to incorporate simple but excruciating ab workouts throughout my routines rather than just tacking them on at the end, which is when you’re most likely to be exhausted or just get lazy. Sitaras’s take: Why would you want to shortchange your core, the most important muscle group in your body? Overlook strengthening it, he says, and your back will absorb the pressure instead, and that’s just asking for trouble, especially as you get older. My hard-earned core strength has made all the difference in the world. In the gym, I lift surprisingly heavy weights for dozens of repetitions. On the weekends, I’m a faster cyclist. Best of all, I have so much energy left at the end of each day that I can still tire out my sons. Here are four of my favorite moves for a firm core. And if need an extra push to get to the gym for these ab workouts, be sure to check out the 11 ways smart men motivate themselves to go to the gym.
Hang from a chin-up bar. Your hands should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart and your feet shouldn’t touch the floor. (Use arm straps if you don’t have strong upper-body muscles.) Keeping your back straight, slowly lift your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your calves are perpendicular to it. Hold this position for one or two seconds, then slowly lower your legs. On the 10th and final rep, hold the raised-leg position for 10 seconds. Do three sets. As you become stronger, add sets until you can complete 10 sets of 10 reps with perfect form. Leg lifts, as it so happens, are one of the ab workouts that male models use.
Raise an inverted sit-up bench to its highest angle. Put your feet into the foot supports and lie flat on the bench. Extend your arms so that they’re perpendicular to your torso. Keeping your back straight, slowly lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the bench by two to three inches. Hold this position for one or two seconds, then lower yourself back to the bench and repeat. For this exercise, you should do three sets of 20 reps. In between sets, read up on the number one reason you don’t have abs yet.
Stay on the inverted sit-up bench (keep it raised to its highest angle), but this time lie on your back with your head resting on the foot supports. Firmly grasp the foot supports with your hands; your elbows should point forward while your forearms gently touch your ears. Position your legs so that your knees are bent and your heels are touching your buttocks. Slowly raise your legs up to your chest as far as you can, keeping your heels at your buttocks. Hold the position for one or two seconds, then lower your legs. For this abs workout, you should do three sets of 12 reps.
Lie flat on the floor. Bend your knees at a right angle and raise them into the air, as if you were resting your calves on a bench. Extend your arms above your head. Reach forward from this position, touch your toes, and then roll back to the floor. For this abs workout, do three sets of 20 reps. And after you knock out this final exercise, treat yourself with the 10 carbs that are excellent for building abs.
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