This 22-Day Program Targets the 2 Muscles You Need to Work for a Flatter Stomach

Many people with relatively low body fat can find that their belly sticks out, no matter how much ab training they’re doing, or how dialed-in their nutrition plan is. But as Athlean-X expert Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. explains, there is an explanation for that frustratingly protrusive tummy: underactive transversus abdominis and pelvic floor muscles.

In a new Athlean-X video, Cavaliere outlines a workout program which can help you target these areas specifically, which can lead to real strength gains and visible results in just three weeks.

He starts by prescribing a test, which you will repeat at the end of the program in 22 days. While lying on the ground with your legs straight up in the air, with both your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis engaged, bring your legs down; the goal is to get your feet to just an inch off the ground without arching your back and giving up that contraction. Cavaliere believes you should be able to do this more easily at the end of the program.

The first exercise is a simple one: in a horizontal position, just focus on contracting the transversus abdominis and pelvic floor, and hold it for 20 seconds. Do this for 10 reps, 3 times a day; this should total no more than 10 minutes.

On the second day, move onto a static hollow hold, in which you keep your shoulders off the ground while contracting the same muscles for 10 lots of 20 seconds, 3 times throughought the day. “As you go through these days, you’re going to gain significant control over the muscles that have been dormant until now,” says Cavaliere.

On the third day, switch to a static V-sit position for the same contraction, and hold for the same length of time and number of reps.

On day 4, flip over for a plank, performed for the same duration. “Now we have gravity pushing down on that belly that’s already sticking out,” says Cavaliere. “So can you actually pull back and do the same thing, and activate those two muscles in this position? It can feel foreign and new, but if you gain control here, you’re well on your way to where you want to be.

This is followed on day 5 by an elevated plank as you make your way upright, and then on day 6 by a kneeling hold. “The vertical torso here makes it a lot harder for you to gain control of these muscles,” says Cavaliere. On the seventh day, you finally assume a standing position and engage the muscles for the same 10 reps of 10-second holds, 3 times throughout the day.

Moving into the second week, Cavaliere introduces some movement into each of these holds, and changes it from 10 20-second reps to 20 10-second reps. In the third and final week, those sets are divided equally between static and dynamic holds, with each hold performed for five 20-second reps. And at the end of the three weeks, the work should pay off.

“Even if you were at a higher body-fat level, you’re going to see some tightening or cinching down of the waistline if you’ve gained some control of those dormant muscles,” he says. “Remember, you didn’t just improve the appearance of your waistline, you’ve improved the strength and stability of your lower back at the same time.”

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