Before going on to the Program Section, let's take a minute to review the important points we've covered so far.
Fat reduction and muscle conditioning are two different processes.
Fat reduction involves creating a calorie deficit (fewer calories consumed than burned). This is accomplished by modifying the diet and doing aerobic exercise. "Spot reduction" doesn't work.
Conditioning muscle requires doing exercises that target and overload a specific muscle, and that work it from a variety of angles.
If you lie on your back with legs extended, your abs have the capacity to raise your shoulders about 30° off the floor. Any movement beyond that is not the work of the abs.
Most traditional ab exercises are motivated by the psoas muscles, not the abs. Psoas-dominated movements are inefficient for conditioning the abs. Performed consistently over time, some may cause permanent lower back injury.
There are three general rules to follow in creating a synergistic abdominal conditioning routine:
Avoid exercises that both activate the psoas muscles and require a body position that allows the back to arch.
Work lower abs before upper abs.
Do twisting (oblique) upper ab exercises before straight upper ab exercises.