Humans are creatures of habit, doing certain things over and over again because they feel comfortable, such as eating regularly at a favorite restaurant, driving the same route to work or doing the same exercise, set and rep schemes for a particular bodypart. Unfortunately, that last habit may be a big problem.
Getting into a rut with any muscle group isn't ideal, but it may be especially troublesome for abs. You don't need a PhD in exercise physiology to know that to make a muscle grow bigger and stronger you need to continually tax it with heavier loads or more repetitions, yet many of us often squeak by on a few sets of crunches tacked on to the end of a workout. Three sets, 20 reps each, rest and repeat.
This five-week program solves both problems, breaking you out of a rut and introducing progression to your middle-management plan in the form of the weights you use, reps you complete and your rest periods between sets.
Building well-defined abdominals doesn't happen by accident; it takes hard work and a carefully planned approach. Operating in a comfort zone may suffice in your personal and professional lives, but if you're after a ripped sixer, complacency is your enemy. Break the pattern right now.
Danish Teen, Klaus Myren Riis.
Photo By Per Bach.
Week #26 - 9/05/2006
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How Sweet Is A Six-Pack?!
Our five-week plan requires you to train your midsection three times a week, resting at least 48 hours between sessions. If possible, do abs on days you're not training a major body part.
Start by choosing one Group A exercise. This group includes one move for each of the major regions of the abdominals - upper abs, lower abs and obliques. Group A exercises add resistance to your bodyweight, meaning they're the most challenging moves in the workout and should be done early when you're fresh. Since resistance levels can be manipulated one plate at a time, even beginner-level bodybuilders can perform these moves using a lighter weight.
The key with this exercise is to choose a weight with which you can do only 10 reps to focus on building strength in your abs. If you can't complete 10, the weight's too heavy; conversely, if you can do more than 10, the weight's too light. Selecting the right resistance is critical to manipulating intensity during the program.
Next, pick one move from Group B. These intermediate-level exercises are slightly easier than Group A moves. Some Group B movements use added resistance - again, manipulate loads to fit your needs if you're a beginner. Like Group A, this group has one exercise dedicated to lower abs, one for upper abs and one for obliques.
Although you may want to alternate which area of the abs you focus on as you progress through a workout, it's not required. In fact, one way to prevent the abdominals from becoming accustomed to a particular mode of training is to keep changing up the order of the moves.
For the rest of these guidelines, our full five-week routine, additional tips and a detachable workout sheet, pick up the March issue of M&F.
For more M&F, visit their website: www.muscleandfitness.com.