5 Minute Abs
In the 90’s there was a workout created called “8 Minute Abs”. It was a big craze being that people wanted abs and they wanted them fast. Nothing was better than a “6-pack” at the beach, and I’m not talking beer. Since then there have been jokes, products, and other claiming 7 minutes and 6 minutes to a better stomach. Well I am here today to explain the newest idea…5 MINUTE ABS! You read that right! 5 minutes to better abs. Here is the catch though: I am asking for 5 minutes of your time every day and I am going to help you learn how to use your abs so when you are partaking in activities every day, working out at the gym, or just sitting at work, you are working on developing a better set of abs. So are you ready for the big secret? 5 minutes each and every day I want you to….BREATH.
Yes, breathing is the foundation of getting a strong midsection and a great set of abs. The muscles that make up our trunk, including our abs and obliques, are all responsible for proper respiration. When we exhale we activate our abs to help press air out. When we inhale we are using our diaphragm which is also intertwined with muscles of our deep core. Think of the midsection as a can. The top is the diaphragm, the bottom being the pelvic floor muscles, and the sides being the abs, obliques, low back, and the deeper core muscles. Proper respiration will activate all of these and get them working together in everything we do. The problem is most people don’t know how to properly breathe. Many don’t exhale forcefully enough to get carbon dioxide out and get the abs working. Some use their neck, traps, and chest to breath. Some breathe to fast. All of these problems can cause many issues around the body, including a weak and inactive core. I won’t get into all the problems that can be caused by poor breathing mechanics but I will explain how to get on the right track.
Take a Breath
Let’s start correcting your breathing and get those abs turned on. Lay down on the floor with your back flat and your feet up against the wall or resting on a chair. There should be a right angle at the hips and knees. Try to stretch yourself out so that your spine feels long all the way up to your head. The chin should stay tucked, not pointing to the ceiling or down at the chest. With the arms at the side, exhale hard, pushing out all the air you have inside of you. Doing this you should feel everything in your stomach, including those abs, tighten up. Hold for a 2 count then breath in through the nose, keeping some tension on the abs. Try to breath in through the stomach, with the air pushing out all the way around the stomach, sides, and low back. Direct the air up into your lungs so that your chest rises. All the work and tension should be felt in the midsection and the lungs. Repeat this cycle for 5 minutes, exhaling forcefully, getting all the air out and inhaling as much air as you can through the nose. Your breathing may feel restricted when you first start doing this but with consistency you will create some strength through the core and get better expansion in the lungs.
To get even more out of breathing, try to keep the good breathing mechanics throughout your daily tasks. The exhale won’t be as forceful, but focus on using the abs to help exhale and breathe in through the stomach, not raising the shoulders or extending at the lower back. Ingrain the habits and notice better strength, better feeling, less pain, and better abs (with good nutrition of course)!