To maximize your mid-section development, the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and intercostals must be equally and evenly developed in proportion to the surrounding muscle groups: the pecs, legs, and back. Employ variety and change to shock the muscle groups of the abs as much as possible to build the kind of quality muscle you want! You've gotta make them respond with whatever it takes to make them fully developed no matter how hidden they are!
The great advantage to training abs is that it doesn't take much motivation to want to blast them! But, developing competition worthy abs is more than just a matter of size building. Every contour, striation, and angle must be brought out. This requires working the mid-section from a varitey of angles. It takes a variety of high intensity ab exercises to confuse the adbominals, obliques, and intercostals into gigantic, ripped proportions.
Nothing ties a bodybuilder together more than ripped abs. Imagine sweeping lats, and a full ribcage complete with well-developed pectorals. Imagine a big layer of fat around the abs...not a pretty picture? Ripped abs definately complete this pose. This kind of development isn't something you're born with. It takes hard work, dedication and hard training over the entire body in balance and power.
Tips on how to build fully developed abs:
- Train consistently, never miss workouts
- Concentrate hard on each set
- "One rep equals two" - Concentrate as hard on the eccentric as the concentric parts of the movement
- Do basic movements to begin with for building mass: crunches, reverse crunches, sit-ups, etc.
- Do 10 minutes of Romain Chairs to really sculp the abs.
Tips on how to tie in the intercostals and serratus anterior muscles:
"It is just as possible to have a weak point in your abdominals as in any other body part. To help you overcome this, I have included in the abdominal training program exercise designed to work all the specific areas with which you will be concerned. Although most abdominal exercises tend to work several areas of the torso at the same time, certain movements are best for each specific area, such as upper or lower abs, obliques or serratus and intercosals. However, be aware that the lack of visual development of the abs is frequently caused by one of two things:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- not enough dieting, so ther is a layer of fat over the abs
- not enough isolation, full-range-of-motion, quality training"
These place primary focus on the upper abs. on a chair with a place for your feet to hook under for support, fold your arms in front of you and lower yourself back to a 45 degree angle, then crunch your abs forward in a rolling motion brining your torso forward and down as much as possible. Focus on getting a full contraction with each rep.
Crunches - The Staple Ab Movement:
These primarily work the upper abdominals. Lie down on the floor and lift your feet off the ground, so that your calves form a 90 degree angle with the floor. Put your hands behind your neck or cross them in front of you. Slowly raise your head up and your torso up toward your knees while leaving your legs as stationary as possible. Focus completely on both the concentric and eccentric portions of the movement for the most effective workout. If you can, try and hold the movement at the peak to get full contraction and stimulation out of the abs. You can use a bench or chair to put your feet on if you don't want to hold them at 90 degrees. Perform as many as you can until the burn is too much to complete a full controlled rep.
Twisting Crunches - Work those obliques!
These hit the upper abs as well as the obliques. Just as with regular crunches, you want your feet raised, making your calves form a 90 degree angle with the floor. The difference is in the movement. Crunch forward but instead of going straight forward, twist to one side then down, then to the other side then down. Take your elbows behind your head and crunch touching your elbow to the opposite knee on each progressive rep, switching sides each time.
Reverse Crunches - Get those stubborn lower abs!
These hit the lower abs better than almost anything else. The lower abs are very hard to hit and are usually the most under-developed part of the abs, so pay attention! The best way to do this exercise is lying on a flat bench. With your back on the bench and your hands gripping the top of the bench by your head, lift your bent legs all the way up to your elbows, slowly; then lower them back so that your feet lie flat on the bench. At the top of the movement, be sure to qive the abs a good squeeze to really burn them. Do as many as you can until you are not able to perform the movement strictly.
Hanging Reverse Crunches - Build the lower abs.
These hit the lower abs in much the same fashion as reverse crunches. Hang from a chin-up bar with your grip slighly wider than shoulder-width. These are tough for a lot of people, because it can hurt your hands hanging for so long. These are intense and tough to do, so if you can do them consistenly for reps, you're lower abs will reap the rewards. In the hanging position, bring your knees up level with the abdomen and squeeze. Lower them slowly back down to the starting point. You can also do these on a slant board.
Vertical Bench Crunches - Lower ab emphasis.
The Vertical bench, just as the name implies, is a vertical bench with arm rests and two vertical bars for your hands to grip. Vertical bench crunches are mearly a variation of hanging reverse crunches, only they are easier on your body because your weight will rest on your elbows and forearms rather than pulling on your hands and shoulders. The movement is the same. From the hanging position, bring your knees up to your torso, holding, then back down in a controlled movement.
Cable Crunches - Upper and Lower ab blasting!
This is a unique movement because you can give your lower and upper abs a healthy workout. This movement can be quite effective if done properly. Using the rope attachment on the pully-machine, get on your knees and crunch down, rolling up your body. Round out your back and bring your head to your knees as you hold the rope in front of your forehead. Don't pull at all with your arms, just your abs.
Ab Machines - Isolate!
These also hit the lower and upper abs. They are pretty self explanitory. Just be sure to concentrate on doing slow, controlled reps. Squeeze your abs at the peak of contraction to reap the most benefits.
Seated Leg Tucks
Sit down on a bench sideways, and hold on to the edge with an overhand grip by your sides. Extend your legs out and down in front of you with your feet resting on the floor. Pull your knees up toward your head as you squeeze and contract your torso, making the movement possible. Lean back at about a 45 degree angle when performing these.
Seated Twists - Squeeze the Obliques!
Hold a straight rod or broom behind your head with your hands loosly extended and gripping around the top ends of the bar. Sitting at a bench, twist from side to side working your obliques.
These tighten the oblique muscles much the same as the seated twists, only at a different angle. The simple difference is that you are standing and twisting bent-over toward the floor with the straight rod behind the neck. Keep the movement under control, don't swing.
Leg Exercises used to hit the abs:
There are a number of leg exersizes that can be used to successfully burn out the abs. The list includes: leg raises, flat bench leg raises, bent-knee flat bench leg raises, bent-knee incline board leg raises, bent-knee vertical bench leg raises, hanging leg raises, twisting hanging leg raises, side leg raises, bent-knee leg raises, front kicks, bench kickbacks and rear leg scissors.
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