Much like the coveted thigh gap, the ab crack is the latest fitness 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. Typically, those with ab cracks have a body fat percentage of under six percent, which is incredibly difficult to achieve.
According to a fitness expert from Shape, though, ab cracks are largely determined by genetics -- "You can train your abs and make them more pronounced by working them hard, but for the most part, you're not going to change the structure."
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.
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. 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. Nuts like almonds are filled with healthy fat and fiber, which alleviate constipation and bloating.
What'smore, nuts curb hunger while stabilizing blood sugar levels.Almonds in particularhave been shown to reduce abdominal fat when eaten regularly.
- Protein powder. 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. 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. 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. 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 is Whack
Don't fret if you're unable to achieve an ab crack -- for most women, it's an unhealthy and unattainable goal. And, as with the thigh gap trend, the ab crack fad will soon fade. Just because you're unable to achieve an ab crack, though, doesn't mean you can't safely achieve perfectly sculpted abs. All it takes is some plank exercises, regular cardio, and the right diet. Follow these tips, and you'll be the envy of all your friends come swimsuit season.
1. "6 Foods to Eat When You're Working Toward a Six-Pack," Women's Health, March 28, 20163.
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.