Mat's Abs!

To lose the maximum amount of fat in the shortest possible time whilst losing the minimum amount of muscle, you should aim to complete 20 minutes of medium paced exercise every morning before breakfast.
Girls love abs. It's a fact. Those few small muscles which shape your midsection are the most important muscle group in your entire body when it comes to parties and going to the beach. This is one of the reasons that the abs are trained by absolutely everyone - from bodybuilders and football players to the friendly neighborhood geek who sits in the corner of the classroom and plays games on his calculator.


Abs Compliments of Gary Strydom

All this also contributes to the reasons why you have to know how to train your abs. Most people don't have a clue. If you ask around, you will most probably find that people do one set of 100+ reps of straight sit-ups every night. Some of the more advanced people may have moved on to doing twisting sit-ups from Rocky movies or maybe even straight crunches! Chances are, nobody will train their lower abs effectively and even less will even have heard of obliques.

Of course, all this information is useless unless you have a body fat percentage below about 8%. If not, you will have to add another dimension to your workout - effective cardio. That is also covered in this article. Nutrition is NOT covered in this article, but it IS very, very important. Do not forget about it!

Here goes:

The most important thing to understand when you are training your abs is to know a little about them. Well, not so much about them, but about the exercises you are doing and why you are doing them. I have not covered hanging exercises in this article because I do not do them and I am not in a good position to advise about them. Below is an example workout (sorry about the bad exercise descriptions - some movements are very hard to describe. Try searching around on the internet.):

Leg Raises

Sets: 2-3
Reps: 15-30
Why: Leg raises are performed to build the lower abs.

Description: Whilst lying on an incline abdominal board (head towards the top end) grab hold of the top end of the board (if you are on the floor, just put your hands under a bed/sofa/anything). Bend your legs slightly to take the strain off your back and then, keeping your legs in that position, raise them above your head. Bring them back the same way and repeat this movement 15-30 times. If you find that you are reaching 30 reps before your abs are exhausted, try slowing the movement down and really squeezing at peak contraction. If this doesn't work, you can try holding a weight plate between your knees. For a beginner, though, hold the contraction for 1 second. Beginners should do 3 sets - more advanced bodybuilders only need do 2 sets.

Twisting Crunches
Sets: 2-3
Reps: 15-30
Why: Twisting Crunches are performed to build the obliques.

Description: Lie on your back and place your feet on a bench or a bed. Your knees should be at a right angle. Place your hands behind your ears (so that you like kinda like a bunny rabbit). Lift your shoulders off the floor and move them towards your knees as you breathe out - you should aim for your elbow to touch the opposite knee and vice versa. Hold the position of maximum contraction for 1 second and then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement 15-30 times to complete one set. If the movement is too easy, hold the position of maximum contraction for a second longer and try to really squeeze your abs. Again, beginners should do 3 sets - more advanced bodybuilders only need do 2 sets.

Straight Crunches
Sets: 2-3
Reps: 15-30
Why: Straight crunches hit the upper abs.

Description: Assume the same position as with twisting crunches. Lie face up back and place your feet on a bed or a bench. You should make sure that your knees are at a right angle. Cross your arms over your chest and lift your shoulders off the floor. Push them towards your knees as you breathe out. Hold the position of maximum contraction. Hold this position for 2 seconds before repeating. If you are managing 30 reps without a problem, as always try and squeeze a little harder and hold the contraction for just a little longer. You can hold a weight plate across your chest if you want, but I find it doesn't make much difference.

They should be performed in this order. The reason is that all 3 exercises will work the upper abs, but crunches will not work either the obliques or the lower abs as much.

Hyperextensions
Sets: 2-3
Reps: 8-12
Why: Hyperextensions are a back exercise, but they MUST be performed otherwise you will have back problems.

Description: If you have a hyperextensions bench, you can use that. Otherwise, use a bed with someone or something holding down your legs. Lie face down with your hands behind your ears (the bunny position, remember?) with your upper body over the side of the bench/bed/whatever. Make sure that your pelvis can not move and then raise your upper body so that it is horizontal. Repeat this 8-12 times.

You can do these abdominal exercises up to 3 times per week, but don't do the hyperextensions more than once per week.

Cardio:
To lose the maximum amount of fat in the shortest possible time whilst losing the minimum amount of muscle, you should aim to complete 20 minutes of medium paced exercise every morning before breakfast. It should be medium paced so that your heart rate stays at fat-burning level. Any lower and you would not be burning anything. Any higher and you will be increasing fitness but burning muscle (which is why long distance runners are all so thin).

DO NOT FORGET TO EAT CORRECTLY!
There are lots of articles explaining how to do this.

Please consult a doctor before doing anything here and if you experience any pain while doing any of these exercises.

Most of all, have fun and get huge!!!