Let’s face it, anyone that’s ever been on a quest to get their dream body (especially those of the male persuasion) has always focused in on what I like to call the BBM’s, or Beach Body Muscles. This means that the specific target areas of intense work are the arms, shoulders, back and most importantly, the abs.
Ah, the abs. The six pack is the dream of anyone who’s looking to get their own seal of approval on being in great shape, and they have rapidly become the staple that our society places on being fit, in shape and being dedicated to having a strong, sleek body.
There in lies the problem for most of us… getting the abs generally requires a few lifestyle changes that we’re just not ready to give up yet. The saying does go after all that “abs are made in the kitchen” while this may be true, they’re obviously also made in the gym. Eating donuts won’t get you ripped, but neither will only training your arms.
The dilemma that many often come across in their quest to gain the perfect abs is the exercises most people perform in order to get them are tedious, boring, and often only yield minimal results. Take for instance the age old classic sit-up. They may be effective but doing them feels more like a chore and many of us just don’t want to do them. On the other hand the leg lift, or hanging leg raises as they’re sometimes referred to are highly effective but require that added extra push in order to do them correctly. So, the question here is, “which one is most effective and why?”
First things first, any effective ab exercises must produce a long and constant contraction of all or part of the abdominal muscles being focused on. A for the two exercises mentioned, one results in a far more intense contraction than the other. In addition, one exercise may lead to spinal strain that can cause a serious injury, and that is the seated crunch or sit up.
When doing a crunch, you lift your torso to a 30-degree angle while your feet remain flat on the floor and your legs are bent. This exercise does result in an isometric contraction, but it is a brief one, and only produces minimal amounts of results. It’s widely known in the health and fitness industry that not only do crunches lack the intensity of other exercises, but they may also strain your back and lead to other injuries.
The leg lift however, done either hanging or laying flat is effective in targeting all of the abdominal muscle groups as well as the back which supports the torso. Leg lifts also puts less strain on your spine due to your back being flat on the ground or perfectly upright while hanging. A leg lift is when you lie flat on the floor and slowly raise your legs, both straight and together, until they reach a 90-degree angle. Slowly, lower the legs and stop when they are only inches above ground. This exercise contracts your abdominals while lowering and lifting the legs. Done while hanging sees the legs come to a 90 degree angle out in front, and then lowered again, either straight or bet at the knees.
Consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for any medical related advice.
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