Member Since: 2005
BodySpace has become THE social network for fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts. The site hosts more than 1 million members worldwide, including gym nuts and beginners alike. Students, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, pro athletes - all call BodySpace their "fitness" home, sweat home.
Without a doubt, one of the more popular members of BodySpace is a pro athlete herself. Ava Cowan has risen to the top of the IFBB Figure circuit and she has frequently used her BodySpace in the past 6 years. She's come a long way but says she's just getting started.
Her plans are ambitious, but it would not be smart to doubt her. This Gaspari Athlete has already been on numerous magazine covers and has thousands of people in her BodySpace corner.
Once you get to know her, you will become another of her many supporters. You'll certainly know why she earned the right to be the next BodySpace Member of the Month!
Well, to develop her 6-er she uses 7 go-to exercises. Each time she trains abs, she chooses 3-or-4 for that session. Both the exercises and the reps and resistance (or degree of difficulty) will vary by workout, so her core doesn't adapt and thus cease to improve. Reps-wise, she will go as many as 20-plus and as few as 6.
So what's her favorite abdominal move of all? She has a sweet spot for rope pull-downs. "I like how it focuses on the upper portion of the abs," says Cowan. "This exercise may be partly responsible for the density I have been able to achieve in my abs."
(Pick any 3-or-4; rep ranges are examples only.)
Hanging Leg Raise Tips:
- This is an advanced move; it targets the lower abdominals.
- Beginners, bend your knees if necessary; progress to legs straight.
- Don't swing your legs at the bottom to generate momentum.
- Breathe as if blowing out candles on a cake during the concentric part of the movement.
Cable Crunch Tips:
- I prefer to train in a lower rep range with this exercise.
- Don't be afraid to move the pin down and go a little heavy on these.
Medicine Ball Decline Crunch Tips:
- The med ball adds extra intensity and allows you to stay in a lower rep range by adding more weight.
- Hold the medicine ball in a fixed position at your chest.
Jackknife Sit-up Tips:
- These are great to do either on their own or as an active rest in between other exercises. On seated rows, for example, I turn to the side and move right into 25 V-ups.
- When you lean back on your hands and lift your legs off the ground about six inches, keep them straight and together, and balance your weight on your butt.
Air Bike Tips:
- When you place your fingers lightly behind your head for support, don't pull on your head. Allow your elbows to flare out from your ears.
- Exhale and lift your right shoulder toward your left knee as you extend your right leg away from you.
Decline Reverse Crunch Tips:
- If you want to up the intensity, try a slight twist to the side on the way down to target those obliques. Make sure to stay controlled on this movement.
- Initiate the movement from your lower abs and curl your hips up off the bench and raise your pelvis off the bench by driving your feet to the ceiling.
- Keep your hips square as you twist from the left to the right side.
- Your core should remain engaged throughout the set.
Q&A With Ava Cowan
Q: Tell us a little about yourself: name, age, where you are from and about your career.
How long have you been visiting Bodybuilding.com and using BodySpace?
I have been using the site since the winter of 2005. With more than 4,000 comments to others, I actually use the site heavily.
What was it that led you to decide to pursue a career in the fitness world?
I compete not for the ego boost, but rather because dieting and pursuing extreme fitness goals build my self-esteem. I always knew I had good genetics, but I never had the education, discipline or direction to go to the next level.
What is the most important thing you've learned since you started?
Not to take any placing personally.
What are your favorite and least favorite body parts to train and why?
Legs. I love it and hate it! Training legs hurts, but it feels good at the same time. It's sort of like pulling out a loose tooth.
What is the best fitness advice you could give to someone who is just starting?
Don't think that because you placed 2nd in your first NPC show that you deserve a sponsorship. That is just crazy! I killed myself, marketed myself full time, and was on the grind for 4 years before I was signed with Gaspari Nutrition. No one owes you anything, so do this as a hobby not as a career. If something comes of it, then that is just a bonus financially.
Build yourself as a brand and have something to offer other than just a nice body. It takes a dazzling personality, savvy business sense, negotiating skills, resilience, character, integrity, incessant social networking and anything else that can set you apart as an athlete from the rest.
How often do you treat yourself to a cheat food and what is your favorite?
More than I should in the off season. I eat whatever I want, and I usually top out at about 12-15 pounds over contest weight. When I diet for a show, I never have a cheat meal.
I am all-out 100 percent, one way or the other. I have an extreme personality, so I am IN or I am OUT.
Why do you think BodySpace is beneficial to others?
There is no other website that helps you track as many aspects of your physical transformation. It is the only way I can remember what I am doing month-to-month, especially weight wise.
How do you get yourself going on those days when the motivation may not come so easy?
I try not to over-think what I have to do. I also picture the fat on my legs and that usually gets me moving.
What are your future goals, both in your career and in your personal life?
I want to win the Figure Olympia, have my own reality TV show, meet the man of my dreams, and help others transform their lives as a life coach. Yeah, I said it, win the Olympia!
Is there anything you would like to say to all the BodySpace people out there?
Just keep pushing in all aspects of your life. Never let anyone tear you down in any way, set huge goals and never give up!