"Being able to do two things at once is a big part of success. I try to do abdominal exercises, isometrics, even when I'm at a meeting. Tensing... holding... and then releasing. I'll even floss in the shower while the conditioner is in my hair, during the part when you're supposed to leave it in. Those things can really add up to a significant time savings." --Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), The Informant
Abs, abs, abs. Who wouldn't want them to be tight, six-packed and beach body-ready at any given moment? Believe it or not, we all have the potential to get our tummies toned, however, extra cushioning (a.k.a. body fat) and muscle tone are the two factors that ultimately determine the amount of skin we feel comfortable showing off in the sun.
Suck It In
We've all done it and we'll all continue to do it, but only when we're in front of other people! Holding in your abdominals - even when no one else is around, really does make a difference. In addition to toning the muscle that's already there, you're creating a more stable brace for your body's core which helps to prevent low back injuries, among other things. Holding in your abs, which is an isometric exercise, engages both your Transverse Abdominals (TVA) and your Rectus Abdominis (you six pack muscle).
A Word About Transverse Abdominals
Hands down, the most important muscle in the core region to keep strong is the transverse abdominals (TVA). The TVA is buried deep in the lower core, and play a vital role in lower back health. Most of us are weak through the TVA, especially if that muscle has been compromised (think pregnancy). While we can't see this muscle, it helps to give us the "flat belly" look when it's strong.
Anytime Isometric Ab Exercise
- Standing tall or sitting straight in a chair, draw your belly button in toward your spine while breathing deeply.
- As you exhale, contract or brace your abs, holding for about 10 seconds (or the length of time it takes you to exhale fully).
- Repeat a total of five to ten times, numerous times throughout the day.
**Remember, the focus is on drawing in around your belly button, contracting and breathing. You're never "letting go" at any point, rather pulling in through the inhale, and contracting stronger through the exhale.
When Can You Do This Exercise?
- Working on your computer
- Driving in your car
- While getting a manicure
- Doing the dishes
- Walking the dog
- While shopping for shoes
- ...the possibilities are endless!