What's the ab crack and why it isn't a fitness goal
Much like the thigh gap, the ab crack is the latest trend among models and athletes, making waves on Instagram and other social media sites. But what is an ab crack? It's simply a defined vertical line that runs down the center of the stomach. The "trend," if we can even call it that, boils down to a body being both extremely lean and genetically inclined.
Called the linea alba, those with ab cracks typically have a body fat percentage of under six percent. According to fitness experts, though, the ab cracks are largely hereditary and an inherited characteristic. So for the average person, it's not an achievable "goal" to be reached through your workouts and just a natural phenomenon of body type.
Forget the ab crack — focus on personal fitness...
Even though you might not ever be destined to develop an ab crack, you can still achieve a sculpted flat stomach by doing plank exercises on a consistent basis. Why? Because plank exercises not only work all of your core muscles, they also burn more calories than sit-ups or crunches alone. Here are the top plank exercises that'll give you stellar six-pack abs (and maybe even an ab crack, if you're one of the lucky few):
1. Traditional Plank
To do a traditional plank exercise from start-to-finish, you'll want to begin in a pushup position. Instead of resting your weight on your hands, though, you should rest your weight on your forearms by bending your elbows. Try to form a straight line from your head all the way down to your feet. Brace your core, holding this position for half a minute.
2. Side Plank
To begin this exercise, you'll want to lie on your left side, using your left elbow and forearm to prop your body up. Your legs and feet should be stacked on top of each other. Form a straight line with your body by raising your hips. Hold this position for half a minute while bracing your core. Switch sides and repeat.
3. Leg Raise Plank
To start this exercise, assume a pushup position, but with your weight bearing down on your forearms. Tighten your abs. Then lift your right leg, so that your right foot is a couple inches from the floor. Do ten repetitions with your right leg, and then switch over to your left leg.
4. Straight Arm Plank
To do a straight arm plank, you'll want to begin in a pushup position, resting your weight on your hands. Your arms and legs should both be straight, and you should bear some weight on your toes as well. Then brace your abs while squeezing your glutes. Hold this position for 60 seconds.
...And healthy foods
Doing plank exercises is half the battle. The other half is engaging in cardio for 30 minutes at least five times a week and eating the right foods to blast away fat while boosting muscle mass. The best foods for achieving ripped abs include:
Greek yogurt not only contains over 20 grams of protein per serving, it's also a great source of calcium and other nutrients. Research shows eating Greek yogurt every day can help shed abdominal fat, making your six-pack more visible. Only eat plain low-fat Greek yogurt that contains live and active cultures.
Nuts like almonds are filled with healthy fat and fiber, which alleviate constipation and bloating. What's more, nuts curb hunger while stabilizing blood sugar levels. Almonds in particular have been shown to reduce abdominal fat when eaten regularly.
Protein powder, such as whey protein, contains essential amino acids that help build muscle mass. Protein powder also lowers body fat percentage. Aim for 110 grams of protein per day, if you're serious about achieving sculpted abs.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants that can reduce body fat. EGCG, the main antioxidant found in green tea, also improves your workout performance. Try drinking a few cups of green tea per day.
Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that powers your workouts, reduces stomach fat, and curbs your appetite. This is because brown rice is rich in fiber, which helps to stabilize blood sugar. Other good sources of complex carbohydrates include wheat berries and quinoa.
Asparagus contains prebiotic fiber, which fights bloating. What's more, it's a mild diuretic, meaning asparagus flushes out excess fluid from your body, making your abdominal muscles more visible. If you're not a fan of asparagus, any fresh vegetables will provide similar benefits.
The ab crack does not equal success
Don't waste your time striving for this unattainable goal. Just like the thigh gap "trend," the obsession over the ab crack will soon fade, too. While not every body type is built for achieving an ab crack, we can all focus on working the abs themselves. All it takes is some plank exercises, regular cardio, and a healthy diet. Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to your best body yet.
1. "6 Foods to Eat When You're Working Toward a Six-Pack," Women's Health, March 28, 2016.
2. "Ab Cracks: The Totally Unrealistic Body Trend You Shouldn't Strive For," Shape, July 6, 2016.
3. "Ab Crack is the new Thigh Gap - and It's just as Dangerous," Good Housekeeping, July 19, 2016.
4. "Abs Workout: The Secret Formula for a Flat Stomach," Shape, n.d.
5. "What the Heck is an Ab Crack?," Allure, July 18, 2016.