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May 14, 2004 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to tone my abs. [MI]

I'm looking to get myself into a little better shape before the summer; I've tried crunches and six-inchers in an effort to lose the tummy I've developed, and although I notice my abs getting stronger, I'm not really seeing any improvement in tone.

What I'm wondering is, are there more effective exercises (maybe with freeweights?) that I can do at home, without spending money on equipment or one of those shady six-minute ab programs?
posted by Yelling At Nothing to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
The best recommendation is probably for you to lose slightly more weight. Everybody has abs, of course, underneith, but on somepeople (like on a certain Dagny, sigh...), it's hidden from the general view by -- shall we say -- the results of a good meal too many.

Now, weight loss cannot be "targeted" to the ab area, so one would need to go on a holistic regimen, I'm afraid, and obviously ab workouts should be included in such a regimen, but not the main focus.
posted by dagny at 12:45 PM on May 14, 2004

Not to dash your hopes, but there's a saying amongst the gym rat crowd - six packs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. You can have some of the strongest abs in the world, but if you have a nice layer of fat over them, you won't see definition. Typically, you do need to cut down to some very low body fat % to see definition (the numbers depend largely on your sex).
That all said, there are some really good, basic exercises out there to improve your abs, and they shouldn't require equipment. At my gym, those big bouncy balls are all the rage, but my traner told me that you don't need any props for a good ab workout. Really, the best ab workout is the basic crunch, as long as you're doing them correct and effectively - the real trick is really to make your abs do the work and to hold at the top of the crunch for a good 2 seconds. You'll definitely feel it afterwards. As a sidenote, that "hold" is pretty much the same thing the six-second ab machine makes to try to do.
posted by dicaxpuella at 12:48 PM on May 14, 2004

We talked about this previously, but if you want to see your abs, you have to take your body fat % down a few notches. No matter how many situps or crunches I do, I'll always be 20% body fat away from anyone noticing.
posted by mathowie at 1:10 PM on May 14, 2004

Everybody's right of course. Cut the fat (or maybe for you the carbs, everybody's metabolism is different) in the kitchen and do more cardio and keep the same ab regimen. Then, if you still don't see them, blame your ancestors for lousy DNA.
posted by vito90 at 1:16 PM on May 14, 2004

"what dicaxpuella said", plus I'm a big believer in medicine-ball situps.
posted by Stoatfarm at 3:23 PM on May 14, 2004

I wrote about an effective type of situp here, FWIW. I've got about ten pounds hanging on my belly, but my abs are so bulked up that I still have a four pack. Now about those ten pounds....
posted by notsnot at 3:58 PM on May 14, 2004

If you can't *feel* an improvement in tone, then maybe you need to do different exercises. But if you can't *see* it, then yes, it's probably cardio you need to be doing.

If you can't *feel* an improvement, your body has probably adapted to the exercises you're doing. Try different exercises, different resistances, different reps and sets.
posted by gramcracker at 5:31 PM on May 14, 2004

dagny is absolutely right. Gotta lose some bodyfat. If you're truly serious about doing this, consider the cyclical ketogenic diet.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:56 PM on May 14, 2004

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