What Is The Best Ab Training Routine? Find out what other people from the message boards think...

By: Topic Of The Week


TOPIC: What Is The Best Ab Training Routine?

The Question:

What is the first thing people notice when your shirt is off? What do the girls go crazy over? Abs. But, how do you get that ripped six-pack you have always dreamed about?

What does it take to get a great set of abs? Hundreds of reps every day? Low reps and high resistance? How often should you work your abs?

What are the most effective ab training exercises? How does nutrition play a role in it? What about supplements?

How long does it take to see results? Do genetics play a role?

Bonus Question: What are the best bodyweight ab exercises? What ab training routine would you following while on vacation, away from ANY weights or weight training machines?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - BigNorwegian

Crunches? 6 Second Abs? Ab Swing? What's The Answer?

For so many of us having great abs, or a six pack has almost become a fad. A sexy slim waist, wash board abs, those "sex lines", its almost like magic, they seem to captivate the human eye. When I took a local poll asking, "What body part do you think women look at first on a man?", 9/10 of the responses were "abs" or "stomach".

Hell, if women love abs so much, no wonder so much of the male population bust their ass's to get those damn abs. Even those who do not train seriously try to achieve a 6 pack, but are they going about it the correct way? What is the correct way?

Will thousands of crunches get the job done? What about those products seen on T.V.? "Get a six pack with 6 second abs in only three weeks!", or "Wear this belt as it tasers the crap out of you while you watch TV and you'll get abs in no time!" will they work? Probably not, unless you have the genetics of an ape on steroids, or are related to Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler.

It seems as though many of those who are looking for a 6 pack are uninformed, and unfortunately ignorant, thus allowing the notion that getting a 6 pack is much more difficult than it really is. In this article you'll learn the truth about the abs, and how to properly go about getting a 6 pack in less time than you'd ever believe.

Understanding The Muscle

First lets try to understand the muscle group that is so often referred to as the "abs". The abdominal regent is made up of four separate muscles, the internal and external obliques, the transverse abdominis and the rectus abdominis. Oh don't these words bring back those memories of bio class? No wonder we just call our stomach muscles "abs", or as they are also sometimes referred to as "core" muscles.


The "Core" Muscles
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These core muscles are made up of your abs as well as your lower back. The abs assist the human body in the moving of the torso. Abs generally move in two main motions, flexion and rotation. If we are able to understand how each part of our abdominal regent moves, we will be able to sculpt our abs to their fullest extent and in little time.

Rectus Abdominis

    Where is it?
    The rectus abdominis is a fairly flat yet wide muscle, and this is the muscle that many of us generally refer to as "the six pack". It is located between the sternum and pelvis. Though we call it a "six pack", in reality it is only one muscle. Which means they generally contract together at the same time, making it difficult to only target either the upper abs or lower abs, though it can be done with the correct exercise.

    How do they flex?
    The rectus abdominis flexes as we move our torso in a forward motion and as we bring out pelvis upward.

    What exercises target the rectus abdominis?
    Exercises such as the crunch, sit ups, pelvic tilt, leg raises, cable crunch, all help develop this area.

The Obliques (Internal & External)

    Where is it?
    The obliques are the muscles which run down both sides of our torso, one muscle on each side. The external obliques are those muscles which create that "V" shape, also known as "sex lines", which seem to drive the women crazy. The internal obliques, not surprisingly, lie internally, just under the external obliques, and are shaped like an inverted "V" and run in the opposite direction as the external obliques.

    How do they flex?
    The internal and external obliques function in the same way, they can be exercised by means of rotation and/or lateral flexion of the torso.

    What exercises target the obliques?
    Exercises such as the cross-body crunch, decline oblique crunch, dumbbell side bend, leg/knee raises, and plate twist all help develop the obliques.

Transverse Abdominis

    Where is it?
    The transverse abdominis are made up of extremely thin fibers are make up the deepest layer of the abdomen.

    How do they flex?
    Well, the transverse abdominis is involved with abdominal compression. What does this mean? Well it means that this muscle provides fairly little movement and is useless in working out.

    What exercises target the transverse abdominis?
    Should not be a concern, too little of movement to properly workout and will end up in a waste of time.

Nutrition & Developing Abs

Often you will hear those experienced say "abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym." Many of the uninformed unfortunately believe just the opposite; sticking to a good ab routine will help them alone develop a six pack, wrong! Your bodyfat percentage plays a major role in the development of your abdomen region.

Since the abdomen is made up of so many small muscles, it is difficult to see them unless your body fat is low. Generally most people begin to see their abs at around 12% bf, however every individual is different. Genetics play a fairly large role in developing the abdominal muscles.

People often have different shaped abs, have different recovery periods for their abdominals and many of us hold body fat differently on our body, however in time we can all gain that sexy six pack. Generally it takes around 30 days to drop 1% body fat in a healthy manner, so the amount of time it takes to develop a 6 pack is different from person to person.

How Do I Get My Bodyfat To Ab Standards?

    The Diet:

      The diet should consist of a fairly low calorie intake, lower than which your body maintains its current body fat at. You should try to avoid fats and maintain a high protein intake. Here is a sample of cutting diet thanks to "LancePlaya".

        Meal 1
        1/3 cup plain oats
        350 ml egg whites
        multi vitamin

        Meal 2
        2 or 3 plain rice cakes
        1 can of tuna 133 g drained weight

        Meal 3
        1 cup steamed broccoli
        6 ounces of boneless skinless chicken

        Meal 4
        1 cup steamed broccoli
        6 ounces of boneless skinless chicken

        Meal 5
        1 table spoon EFA's (fatty acid)
        1 can tuna 133 g drained weight

        Meal 6
        1 table spoon EFA's (fatty acid)
        350 ml egg whites

        *Note* Those words in italics hold significance.

    Cardio:

      Cardio should be done every other day, starting at 15 minutes the first week and increasing the time each week after. Cardio exercises may include treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical machine, jump roping, boxing, running, basically anything that will get your heart rate up quickly.

What Is A Good Routine To Target My Abs?

    How To Work Your Abs:

      Many people are over anxious in developing their abs, so they seem to think that working them out everyday will speed the process up, this is entirely wrong.

      Your abdomen muscles are like any other muscle, and should be worked the same way: hard and direct stimulation with a fair amount of a resting period in between each workout.

      However, it is known that the abs recover much quicker than most muscles in the human body, generally it takes 48 hours for them to rest.

      A good rule of thumb with your abs is if they are still sore, continue to rest them, might sound stupid, but hey sometimes it just takes some common sense.

    A Good Ab Routine:

      I personally like training my obliques first, then hit my lower abs hard, then my upper abs.

      The Obliques

      Dumbbell Side Bend (One of my personal favorites, I feel its under appreciated)

        Exercise Data:
        Main Muscle Worked: Abdominals
        Other Muscles Worked: None
        Equipment: Dumbbell
        Mechanics Type: Isolation
        Sets:
        12X50lbs (right and left side)
        10X60lbs (right and left side)
        10X65lbs (right and left side)
        8X75lbs (right and left side)

      Hanging Knee Raise To The Side

        Exercise Data:
        Main Muscle Worked: Abdominals
        Other Muscles Worked: None
        Equipment: Body Only
        Mechanics Type: Compound
        Sets:
        12 raises (right and left side)
        10 raises (right and left side)
        10 raises (right and left side)

      Oblique Crunches

        Exercise Data:
        Main Muscle Worked: Abdominals
        Other Muscles Worked: None
        Equipment: Body Only
        Mechanics Type: Isolation
        Sets:
        12 crunches (right and left side)
        12 crunches (right and left side)
        10 crunches (right and left side)
        10 crunches (right and left side)

      The Abs

      Ab Crunch Machine (Yes a machine, one of the few times I will recommend using one)

        Exercise Data:
        Main Muscle Worked: Abdominals
        Other Muscles Worked: None
        Equipment: Machine
        Mechanics Type: Isolation
        Sets:
        25 crunches (light weight, I use 20)
        25 crunches (light weight, I use 25)
        10 crunches (medium - heavy weight, I use 50)
        10 crunches (medium - heavy weight, I use 50)
        8 crunches (heavy weight, I use 80+)

      Weighted Decline Crunch

        Exercise Data:
        Main Muscle Worked: Abdominals
        Other Muscles Worked: None
        Equipment: Body Only or Weight If Desired
        Mechanics Type: Isolation
        Sets:
        20X25lbs
        15X35lbs
        15X35lbs
        10X45lbs (very slow negatives)

      Flat Bench Leg Pull-In Crunch (variation of leg pull in, but with an added crunch movement)

What If I Don't Have Access To Weights?

Supplements, Will They Aid My Six Pack Voyage?

Seeing that people are almost always over anxious to developing their abdominal area, many try to find short cuts, one of them being, supplements.

Will Supplements Help?

    Yes supplements will help and aid your goal of getting a lean stomach or six pack, but that isn't to say that you should depend upon them to get to where you want to be. You must keep in mind that a good diet, cardio, and the right ab routine are the keys to getting that sixpack.

What Supplements Will Help?

    ECY Stack:
      The ECY stack is a fat burning stack which consists of ephedrine, caffeine, and yohimbine. Many believe that this is the best fat burning stack since the ban of ephedra. The ECY stack will raise your metabolism, allowing your body to go into a larger calorie deficit thus aiding to your body's fat loss.

      It will also help you have less cravings for food throughout the day, keeping your appetite down. The caffeine in the stack will allow your energy to be raised and it will keep you focused as well.

      For the money, value, and results, I feel this is easily the best fat burning stack out there currently. I am currently on this stack, and I am loving it.

    MAN Scorch:

      A very popular fat burning agent on the market today is MAN Scorch, a metabolic enhancer. This supplement will help your body go into a larger calorie deficit as well.

      It will boost your thyroid activity, provide energy bursts and it is also known to suppress your appetite. MAN Scorch contains green tea, which has been proved to reduce weight and keeps you more focused.

    Lipo 6:

      Perhaps the best known of the fat burners. Lipo 6 works as an appetite suppressant due to the synephrine HCL found in it, increased energy and mental focus from the caffeine, and will increase your metabolism.

      Lipo 6 is made by a very credible company, and has proved time after time that their products work. A wise choice if you're willing to spend the $27.


2nd Place - bigcalves

What Is The Best Ab Training Routine?

Abs are a very noticeable muscle. When you take your shirt off people are looking for them. Even though they are a considered 6 small muscles, they take a big part of your upper body. Whenever someone looks at you from front, they notice your chest and abs. Since our media is selling abs, girls are beginning to get obsessed with them.

Sure abs on a female look impressive too, but it's not what the public wants. The general public has an image of skinny models and males with abs. Simply put, abs are pretty impressive and with the media these days, they get even more impressive. Visual attention is focused on the abs, and especially when bodybuilding a powerful look in the midsection is required.

Abs are not only used for looks. They are your core and are used by your body all the time. Sit down, and feel on your abs. They tighten, which means that they are working to stabilize and balance your body. Without any abs, visible or not, our bodies would be a lot weaker.

When you do heavy compound movements such as squats and dead lifts, your abs are used. Your core is very important to your body. Abs are an important muscle that every one has, no matter if you can see it popping out or not. Sure, it's more pleasant to have the legendary 'sixpack' instead of the '1 keg'. Abs are here to stay. They stabilize and balance your body. My job is to explain how to make them stronger and more visible. So if you want razor sharp abs, read on.

The Big Mistake

Most people try to get abs the wrong way. They think that doing 300 sit ups every night will make their abs pop out of the skin. Well, let me say this only one time, No! Doing that will only waist your time. Abs are about bodyfat. Sure you need some muscle, but most people that try to get abs already have theirs built. Now it's time to go to the kitchen to define them.

Lee Priest is a professional bodybuilder that has perfect abs. When asked what he does, he said that he never trains abs. Sure he does squats and dead lifts to make them bigger, but at the end it all comes to diet and your bodyfat. Lee get's very fat during off-season, but when he shows up for a contest his abs are always razor sharp, popping out of his stomach. It's every guys dream and then some. That should tell us how important diet and bodyfat is. Remember that abs are built in the gym, but sculpted in the kitchen.


Lee Priest's Perfect Abs
Click To Enlarge.

Tight & Lean

    Our goal is tight and lean abs. In order to do that your abs must be built and then you have to lower your bodyfat. Most guys don't have a diet plan. They don't realize how important diet is.

    If you are 120 lbs and you cut all your calories down to lean out and get abs it won't happen. You need to have muscle to get abs. Also the guys that are 250 lbs, over weight and are doing sit ups in hopes of one day waking up and seeing themselves with abs. That won't happen either.

A Delicate Muscle

    Abs are a delicate muscle, and you need some education to know how to get them. How many 6' skinny kids have you seen with abs? Personally they are everywhere. How many people with 18 inch arms and up with abs have you seen? Not many. This proves that abs are not about training, or diet alone.

    You need to first bulk up, build your abs first and then lean out revealing your perfect abs. 99% of the population trying to get abs will not do this, and that's why you don't see a lot of big muscular guys with abs. It takes dedication, hard work and some education to get the perfect abs.

Nutrition & Cardio

Nutrition is very important in getting great abs. I don't care if your abs are bigger than Ronnie Coleman's, if you have fat covering them they will not be visible. You have to understand that what you eat, will reflect later on, on your body. So eating bad and working out will give you no benefit, especially on your abs.

Drop The Calories?

    If you eat fatty foods and over your daily values, you will stay fat. In order to loose that belly fat you need to lower you calories gradually. Let's say you need 3000 calories per day. Currently you are eating around 3000 and you go to 1500 to cut the fat. It won't happen.

    Your body will go in a state of shock and it will hang on to its fat for dear life. Sure you will loose some weight, but it will be water and muscle. By loosing that weight you will look worse, and your muscles will get smaller. The body will go in shock and not burn fat. Not to mention that you will feel bad, and most people will cheat and gain more fat.

    Clearly that's not the way to go. You have to take it slow and steady. Remember to keep a food diary, writing all the things you eat, and counting your calories. Lower your calories gradually to loose fat. It's estimated that 3500 calories are 1 pound of fat. So if your cut 300 a week, that will be 2100 calories burned.

Cardio

    You will also need to perform cardio. Start slowly and gradually increase. Never go past 45 minutes, but always do 2-4 sessions per week. By doing cardio you will burn around 200-400 calories per day, which will add to the 2100 burned from caloric deficiency and go to around 4200 calories burned per week, which will equal more than 1 pound of pure fat.

Slow & Steady

    It's very hard and almost impossible to loose more than 2 pounds of fat per week so you have to shoot for about 1-2 lbs or 3500-7000 calories burned per week. Never starve yourself, or run for long periods of time in hopes of faster fatloss. It won't happen.

    Your body is made for survival and when you starve or exercise too much it goes in state of shock that makes fat burning impossible, and turn to other sources such as muscle. If you loose muscle and keep the fat your weight will go down, but you will look even worse than before. So stay smart, and do everything in balance.

Ab Exercises

My clients always ask me what they should do. Should they perform thousand of light reps or should they strap the 35 lb plate to themselves and do 8-15 reps. The answer might seem simple but it's not. Most people are different. Abs are a different muscle than the others. All of this makes ab training very hard to figure out.

I would relate abs to calves. Long lasting muscle fibers that are made to have endurance. When you walk you use your abs, and a human can walk for a long time and the abs are there supporting every move. This tells us that abs are a muscle fiber that is made for endurance and not for short quick movements. If that was the case everyone would need a break after taking a few steps.

So using these few facts, common sense would tell us that you need heavy resistance to stress the abs. Personally I would recommend warming up with 2 sets of sit ups with no weight. After that I would perform 5 more sets with resistance.

Each set we will increase the weight, making a pyramid routine. You don't need to get the exact weight. Find whatever works for you and keep the sets with weight below 25 reps. Make sure you stretch your abs out. If you go too fast you will put your lower back, and hips to use. Also remember to work on your obliques which are the sides of your abs. People overlook them, but they can be pretty impressive at low bodyfat levels.

The Routine

Supplements

Supplements can play a very important factor in getting the perfect abs. Sure some can cost a lot of money but they are worth it. They give you an extra boost that can help you overcome a plateau and reach your goal. Always remember that supplements alone will not achieve anything.

Hard work, perfect diet and recovery will make sure you achieve your goals, but with supplements you can always expect the 5-10% boost. Supplementing is definitely worth it and you can always count on Bodybuilding.com for the best brands and lowest prices on the market. Remember to read all directions and labels before starting. Do your homework and focus on fat burning supplements that will strengthen you and help you loose the bodyfat that has been covering the abs.

Tips On Supplements (Closer Look)

    Creatine
      Creatine is a wonderful supplement. It almost doubles ATP energy stores which are responsible for energy and short term movements of muscles, or during a heavy workout. By having extra ATP, you will be able to lift more, and last longer than people with normal creatine levels in them. Creatine is all natural and used by thousands of athletes worldwide.

    Whey Protein

      Whey protein is a must. It's protein that is quickly dissolved in the blood stream. It's a must for after a workout and any other time you need protein in you, fast! With normal diets, most people don't get enough protein and by supplementing with whey protein you are increasing your protein and helping your body build up. It's a must in the fitness lifestyle.

    Multi Vitamin

      In today's diets we don't get enough vitamins and minerals. You simply cannot supplement all your needs with food, so multi vitamins are extremely needed. Even people that don't workout use them, imagine how important they are to athletes, especially when looking to overcome a plateau.

    Glutamine

      Glutamine is a very popular supplement. It is an amino acid that prevents muscle loss and helps recovery. Good for when bulking and a must for cutting. It can give you a boost with recover and that can 'push' you through your plateau. It is a must to have and it is completely natural and used by thousands of athletes worldwide.

    Fat Burner

      Fat burners are not magic pills that burn fat. They are filled with ingredients that 'wake up' the metabolism and make it faster. That will result in burning more calories and then fat loss. If you are cutting and stuck and not losing body fat, then consider using a fat burner.

      From personal experience I can say that they work, and especially when in a plateau they can help a lot. Especially when trying to lower your bodyfat a fat burner is a must. BodyBuilding.com's fat burners are the most effective ones I've used.

How Long Does It Take To See Results?
Do Genetics Play A Role?

Don't expect results overnight. Consistency is what makes people unable to attain their dream body. Sure every week you will lose 1-2 lbs, and that's great but don't expect your dream body to 'arrive' after 2 weeks of serious training and dieting.

Sure some people are blessed with better genetics. Some people loose bodyfat rapidly, as if their body is build for fat loss. For some fat loss is a nightmare and losing the fat is slow and painful. It doesn't matter which one you are, hard work, dedication, and consistency is needed.

So before you say, "I can't do this anymore", think about how hard you are trying. If you run only 2 times per week, and are cheating throughout the week on your diet, don't expect anything different than what your seeing. Now if you want serious results you need a serious dedication to what you are doing.

Believe it or not I started bodybuilding because of my abs. As a skinny kid (5'6 119lb) I wondered how come I don't have abs. As summer came, I dedicated myself to running every day and eating healthy. For that whole summer, I ran every day and I ate around 1000 calories per day. My results were futile.

I lost weight, but didn't get the sixpack I dreamed of. Soon I got on the internet and educated myself about how my body works and what I needed to you. I had dedication and consistency and now, a few months later, I stand at 5'6 180 with a sixpack. My weight goes to 200 lbs in the off-season but a sixpack is always waiting for me when I lean out and manage my diet and cardio. I hope this was motivation for you, and that you too will meet your goals.

Bonus Question:

What are the best bodyweight ab exercises? What ab training routine would you following while on vacation, away from ANY weights or weight training machines?

Saying crunches are the best bodyweight exercise can be questionable. But I do feel that crunches are the best. Sit Ups use too much of your hip and lower back to be effective. Since you are crunching and only using your abs, your neck is the only way you can cheat. But if you control your neck you can target your abs and make those babies burn. Make sure that you always are careful not to hurt your neck or lower back, but instead perform slow, almost negative reps to hit the abs directly. Crunches contract your abs while Sit Ups contract your whole body making it harder to hit the abs.

While at vacation, all you need is a floor. Simply lay and start doing crunches. Warm up with no resistance and when you're done you can get something random from the room that will add weight. It might be your small suitcase or a heavy book in the room, whatever works for you will work for your abs. Make sure to isolate them and use other muscles as less as possible. The muscles to watch out for most are neck and lower back. Also don't swing your legs and hips. You are only wasting your time if you are trying to cheat. Do it once, do it effectively. Make sure that each rep counts and that you get the benefit.

Good Luck!


2nd Place - jgb99 (Tie)

What Is The Best Ab Training Routine?

What is the first thing people notice when your shirt is off? What do the girls go crazy over? Abs. But, how do you get that ripped six-pack you have always dreamed about?

Anatomy

Before we jump into discussing how the abdominals should be trained, and other related things, we must first look at the muscles themselves. The two main muscles in your abdominal region are the rectus abdominis and the obliques (made up of the internal and external obliques).

The rectus abdominis is what people label the 'six pack abs', when visible. It's role is to move the thorax towards the pelvis (flexion).

The obliques, are on both sides of the rectus abdominis (about where your elbow is when your arm hangs down, I know bad example but it's the easiest way to explain it), they are a great accompaniment for a defined 'six pack'. It is like the rectus abdominis is involved in flexion, as well as rotating the thorax (rotation) and lateral movement away from the middle of your body (abduction).

What Does It Take To Get A Great Set Of Abs?

Firstly it takes a low bodyfat. Without a low bodyfat your abdominal muscles will not be visible, as they will be covered by a layer of adipose tissue.

Secondly it takes well built abdominal muscles. Sure you'll have a faint six pack with low bodyfat, but if you want a "great set of abs" that really stand out above others, you need to possess a fair amount of muscle in the abdominal region.

Hundreds Of Reps Every Day?

    Not at all. Sure you can do hundreds of reps per day, but you will be training for local muscular endurance. People seem to believe that doing hundreds of sit ups will not only build nice abdominal muscles, but will allow you to reduce fat storage in the midsection. Again wrong.

    Fat loss in your body is a result of age, hormones and genetics. By doing abdominal exercises, you are targeting the abdominal muscles underneath the layer of fat, not the fat. If you want to lose bodyfat perform cardiovascular training 3-4 times a week and pay attention to your diet (I will discuss this later). The common belief that high reps burn fat is merely a myth.

    And training every day? Again wrong. Your muscles need rest to grow, you would have heard this numerous times. The result of engaging in weight training or some other similar sort of exercise is you produce beneficial little tears in your skeletal muscles, known as micro trauma. When you rest it allows for your body to repair these tissues, making your muscles bigger and stronger.

Low Reps & High Resistance?

    This is better. However don't keep reps too low (below 6) as it can result in injuries through improper form. I would recommend working in the 8-12 rep range as it is in a safe range, where you can work with a weight that allows you to perform reps with good form and it is also in a range that is promoting hypertrophy.

How Often Should You Work Your Abs?

Once to twice a week is good enough for the majority of people. The abdominal muscles are involved in a quite a few compound movements, especially leg and lower back exercises like Squats and Deadlifts, so keep volume low as you don't want the abdominals to be overtrained.

What Are The Most Effective Ab Training Exercises?

As long as they can be weighted, allowing for progressive overload almost all abdominal exercises are good.

My Pool Of Ab Exercises

Obliques (1 exercise, 2 sets of 8-12 reps)

How Does Nutrition Play A Role In It?

Diet is the most important part of reducing bodyfat, so you can see your abdominal muscles, and not have them covered by a layer of fat.

The Zigzag Diet For Fast Fat Loss!
Learn the secrets of fat loss. Also, find out why diets fail, what causes obesity and what the Zigzag diet is and how it will help you lose fat! By: Dr. Squat.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

A brilliant diet I've discovered recently by reading on Bodybuilding.com is Dr. Squat's "ZigZag Diet." This diet basically alternates periods of positive calorie balance with periods of negative calorie balance, allowing you to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

To get your bodyfat levels low enough so you can see those abs, you need to lose fat. In the article Dr Squat states, if your goal is to lose fat, you must follow these guidelines:

Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dr. Squat,

    "Subtract 2 calories per pound of body weight from your daily caloric intake. The reduced calories should come mostly from fat calories, and NOT protein. This caloric reduction should be applied to all of your 5 meals; NEVER skip meals!

    "For example, assuming that you weight 150 pounds, and you're eating 5 meals per day (highly recommended), you should reduce each meal by 60 calories (total of 300 calories reuction over a full day).

    "By reducing your daily caloric intake by 300 calories, you can expect to lose about 2 1/2 pounds of fat per month, assuming you're weight training for muscle mass preservation or increase.

    "Increase your caloric intake two days per week by 2 calories per pound of body weight, to ensure that you're getting enough calories to put on lean muscle, and that upward BMR adjustments are being made (called "zigzag dieting")."

A Quick Synopsis Of The Rules Of The Diet

    - Eat 5-7 meals per day
    - In each of your meals the guideline for fat/protein/carbohydrate ratio should be 1 part fat/2 parts protein/3 parts carbohydrates, HOWEVER this can vary, and is not a strict guideline
    - Assess what you are doing for the next few hours and eat according e.g. exercise (more carbohydrates), sleep (more protein, less carbohydrates)
    - Zigzag your calorie intake depending on your goals.
    - Supplement your diet with multivitamins, minerals and EFAs.

What About Supplements?

Supplements can be helpful to you, but will only supplement (as the name suggests) the hard work you do in dieting and training.

As I've told you so far. If you want visible abs you have to have a low bodyfat. Supplements that will help you do this are supplements that boost your metabolism and aid you in the process of burning excess fat.

These supplements have been mentioned in a previous topic of the week. If you are too lazy to go through the top posts, in summary what the majority of these guys believe to be the best fat burning supplements are (in no particular order):

    Nutrex Lipo 6 - Contains many proven compounds that assist in the fat burning process.

    Avant Labs Sesathin - Based on a EFA that allows your body to burn fat, by using it as your energy fuel.

    Man Scorch - Speeds up your metabolism and suppresses your appetite. Also decreases presence of stress, depression and fatigue.

How Long Does It Take To See Results?

Depends on the person. Different people will progress at different rates. For some, noticeable changes can occur within a month, for others it can take over 2 months.

Do Genetics Play A Role?

Of course they do. Genetics will determine your ability to gain muscle or lose fat. Some people will have an easier time of it, others not so much. But it's important not to let it affect you if you feel you've been given the rough end of the stick, as you can still make progress even if it is at a slower rate, and has more work involved, it will be all the more satisfying in the end.

Bonus Question:

What are the best bodyweight ab exercises? What ab training routine would you following while on vacation, away from ANY weights or weight training machines?

There aren't many challenging bodyweight abdominal exercises, that will allow you to just be able to perform 8-12 reps. A lot of people have trouble doing hanging leg raises, so they may want to try them, when on holiday, off the children's play equipment at a park (I'm sure you'll be able to find one in most places). To make them harder you can do them straight legged instead of bent legged. Shoot for 8-12 reps.


Hanging Knee Raise To The Side.


Hanging Leg Raise.

If you are on holiday I would say relax, don't bother with any training while you're there, just enjoy yourself and give your muscles a break, then train when you get back. However if your holiday stretches a bit further, over three weeks, then you might feel the need to do some training.

If you go on long holidays fairly often, then you might want to look into getting some resistance bands. Not only can you workout your abs with these, but you can also train the rest of your body. For your abs the light resistance bands (5-60lbs band tension) should fit your needs, however for your other muscle groups (e.g. chest) you will probably need to look at getting the higher resistance bands (100lbs+ band tension), which they do not sell at Bodybuilding.com.

To perform weighted crunches with the band simply wrap it around something e.g. a post, grab both handles, wrap arms around chest in an 'X shape' and perform crunches as you normally would. Shoot for 3 sets of 8-12 reps. You can also perform kneeling cable crunches, if you can find something which you can fix it to.

Resources and Helpful Links


2nd Place - doggiejoe (Tie)

Ab Priorities 101

Summer time is upon us and it's the time of the year were the shirts come off. Everyone has their coolers ready and are heading out to the beach. When the t-shirt comes off, you better believe everyone's eyes are on your midsection. Yes, the muscle everyone strives for and all the girls die for. Everyone wants washboard abs but in reality no one wants to stick to the priorities.

No, you can't get 6-pack abs by doing 1000 crunches a day and downing a coke afterwards for refreshment. There's more to abs than you believe. In reality the actual ab training wouldn't even come in 1st on my priority list to getting abs. If you want to know what number it falls too and what are the other top priorities then read on!

Top 5 Priorities To Top Shape Abs

#5 Supplements

    Some people put supplements #1 on their priority lists. Although supplements are important, they alone will not give you results. Supplements do their job, which is to supplement your training. They can even put you over the hump and help you drop those last 5 pounds on your love handles. If you follow the rest of the priorities, supplements will do their job wonderfully and you'll grow to love them.

    Here are my 3 necessary supplements to help you get abs:

    1. Protein

      Everyone needs protein, and it should be the staple in everyone's supplement list no matter what his or her goals are. Don't think because you are trying to cut down on body fat that you need to cut down on protein.

      On the contrary, you will need even more protein to prevent muscle loss while going on a cutting diet, which I'll go into later.

      My recommendation for Whey Protein is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard.

    2. Multi-Vitamin

      Just like protein, multi-vitamins are a must in everybody's supplement arsenal, no matter your goal. Not just any muti-vitamin will work for a bodybuilder/athlete, you'll need a multi-vitamin specially made for people that train hard and lose more than the average person.

      In addition, you'll need even more vitamins because you're going to deprive your body of them from food while trying to cut down on body fat.

      My recommendation for a Multi-Vitamin is AST Multi Pro 32x.

    3. Fat Burners

#4 Cardio

    To get the layers of fat off your midsection, you're going to have to do cardio. End of story. I don't recommend the old fashion cardio were you run on a treadmill for 60 minutes and lose valuable muscle. I recommend the new way of doing cardio, which is called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). This type of cardio is a great and fast way to melt the fat away. Gone are the boring 60-minute treadmill sessions and in is HIIT cardio!

    The basic idea of HIIT is to go all out for a short period of time then rest at a moderate rate then repeat. What this means is that you can do HIIT for 10 minutes and you'll burn the same amount of calories as if you were doing 60 minutes of regular cardio. In addition, you won't go into a stage were you lose muscle because HIIT sessions are brief. So you'll get what you want which is maintaining muscle mass while dropping body fat.

    How To Perform HIIT

      First, select a cardio station (treadmill, stair climbers, bike, regular running, etc) then perform the regular exercise all out for 30 seconds (called working time) then pace yourself for another 30 seconds (called resting time). You should set a goal depending on your athlete level then increase as needed. I don't recommend doing a HIIT session for any longer than 15 minutes. You may also increase or decrease working and resting time as you please.

#3 Ab Training

    Yes, the actual ab training is not #1 on my priority list, it does in fact fall to #3. In reality abs are the core of your body and control all your movements. No wonder why every athlete needs a strong core. And no you can't workout your abs everyday. Abs are like any other muscle in your body and will need at least 48 hours to rest. So working them out 2 times a week is more than enough.

    Form

      Form is the most important thing in performing exercises and getting results. This is no different when wanting to get abs. Most people try to use momentum to perform ab exercises. And this is definitely a no, no.

      Matter of fact ab exercises should be performed slowly and concentrated. Breathing is also an important factor and you should focus on it while performing ab exercises. And always remember to keep your stomach tight and concentrate on them on each and every rep.

    My Top 6 Exercises To Top 6-Pack Abs:

    The Stomach Vacuum Exercise - Pics And Video.
    I can teach you a simple technique to reduce your midsection in as little as 3 weeks. By incorporating this technique, with your regular abdominal training, it will give you a carved midsection!
      #6- Stomach Vacuums - An isometric way to trim your waist.

      #5- Side Crunches - Great exercise to drop the love handles.

      #4- Crunches - This is the standard exercise for sculpting 6-pack abs.

      #3- Decline Weighted Sit Ups - A great weighted exercise for the abs.

      #2- Six Inch Razors - These will really burn your midsection.

      #1- Weight Jackknives - Grab a 10 pound plate and give these a try, you won't be disappointed.

      Click Here For A Printable Log Of Top 6 Exercises.

      Remember to keep all these exercises under 20 reps as anything more is useless. I recommend 3 sets of 15 reps for each exercise and 3 sets of 30 seconds for stomach vacuums.

#2 Diet

    You can do all the crunches and cardio you want, but if you don't have your diet in check, you can forget about a 6-pack. Everyone has a 6-pack. Yes you heard right, everyone has a 6-pack! Now how much fat is covering it, is personal. The only way to make your abs show is by dropping your body fat. So if you have too much body fat then you're going to have to go on a cutting diet to drop the body fat. You're also going to have to drop the junk food.

    Going on a cutting diet means that you would consume less calories than you would usually to maintain your weight. When going on a cutting cycle I recommend consuming 11 times your bodyweight for a total calorie amount each day. Meaning someone weighing in at 200 pounds would consume 2200 calories a day.

    This way you'll lose an average of 1-2 pounds a week and not anymore which is unhealthy. In addition to depriving yourself of calories, I suggest keeping your diet clean and staying on a 55-25-20 ratio of protein-carbs-fats, while getting at least 1.5 grams of protein per bodyweight to prevent muscle loss. You also want to spread out your meal so you up end eating at least every 2-3 hours, which should be 5-6 meals. This will speed up your metabolism and help you on your war against fat.

    The final touch to dropping the body fat is water! Yes, good old water, it works for everything. You need lots of water when cutting so you can suppress appetite and clean out your system. Drinking lots of water (more than a gallon) will also give you a more "ripped" look and that's certainly something you want for you abs. Water can also replace juices and other drinks which contain calories. That's the great thing about water it has 0 calories, so you can stay under the calorie level you set for yourself. Not to mention all the other benefits water has for your body!

#1 Sticking To Your Priorities!

    The #1 priority is keeping your priorities? Yes! People quit because they don't see results. You know why people see no results? Because they don't stick to the priorities! Even knowing all the priorities they believe they can skip one and get away with it. Wrong! You need to know your priorities and stick to them just like in the "real world". Not just one, but all of them! I can't stress enough the importance of consistency.

    You need to be consistent with your ab training in order to see results. Don't think you'll see results in a week or less. Changes in your body take time. So give everything here at least 6 weeks before quitting. I guarantee if you stick to ALL the priorities you'll see results within 6 weeks. Patience is the key to success.

    How To Implement Your Priorities:

      Monday
      Weight room, HIIT Cardio, Supplements, Diet

      Tuesday
      Ab Training, HIIT Cardio, Supplements, Diet

      Wednesday
      Weight Room, HIIT Cardio, Supplements, Diet

      Thursday
      Ab Training, HIIT Cardio, Supplements, Diet

      Friday
      Weight Room, HIIT Cardio, Supplements, Diet

      Saturday/Sunday
      Supplements, Diet

Bonus Question:

What are the best bodyweight ab exercises? What ab training routine would you following while on vacation, away from ANY weights or weight training machines?

There are many bodyweight ab exercises that work. Unlike other muscles you don't really need weights to workout and see results. Yes, weighted ab exercises work but you don't need them to get abs.

Top 6 Bodyweight Ab Exercises:

    #6 - Cross Body Crunches
    #5 - Air Bike
    #4 - Stomach Vacuums
    #3 - Side Crunches
    #2 - Crunches
    #1 - 6-Inch Razors

Ab Routine While On Vacation

    Monday
    Cross Body Crunches 3x30
    Air Bike 3x30
    Stomach Vacuums 3x30 seconds
    Side Crunches 3x15(Each Side)
    Crunches 3x15
    6 Inch Razors 3x15
    15 minutes of HIIT Cardio (Running)

    Tuesday
    Off

    Wednesday
    Repeat Monday

    Thursday
    Off

    Friday
    Repeat Monday

    Saturday/Sunday
    Off

Click Here For A Printable Log Of Vacation Ab Routine.

Remember to keep a clean diet while on vacation*


3rd Place - hepennypacker52

Getting That Visible Sixpack

Without a doubt, the most misunderstood part about getting that "sixpack" is actually how to get it. Most people believe that doing 1,000 crunches a day, 6 days a week, will get them that sixpack they've always dreamed of. This is wrong. It also leads us to:

Ab Principle #1:
Making Your Abs Visible Is All About How Low Your BF (Bodyfat) Percent Is.

What's this mean? It means that no matter how many situps you do, or ab machines you use, if you have a high BF% you will not be able to see your abs. While it is true that doing ab workouts will help define and strengthen your abs, if you don't have your bodyfat low enough, you won't be able to see them.

Diet

    Your diet is very important in the process of shedding fat off your body. It's just common sense that you can't stuff Twinkies down your pie hole and lose fat at the same time. To lose weight, you must go on a weight loss diet, that's also common sense. How much (or little actually) do you need to eat? This brings us to:

Ab Principle #2:
You Must Eat Less Than Your Maintenance Caloric Intake.

If you want to find our your true maintenance caloric intake, you'll have to monitor your diet for a couple weeks. Record everything you eat, and all the macronutrient values (protein, carbs, and fat) of what you eat. Measure your weight before the start of the week, and at the end of the week. If you're weight stayed the same, find the average amount of calories you took in each day, and that's what your body needs to maintain your current weight.

Ok, so how much less should I be taking in each day? Start off with reducing your maintenance calories by 200. Check your weight after a week. If you're losing weight as much as you want each week, keep that amount of calories. If you are barely lose anything, reduce total calories by another 200. Keep doing this until your satisfied with what you're losing. You shouldn't have to go below 12 x bodyweight, assuming that you're doing cardio.

Now what macronutrient ratio's should you be using when trying to lose weight? Make 20-30% of your total calories come from fats, good fats of course, try and stay away from eating too many saturated fats. You should also be taking 1.3-2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. The rest of your diet should come from carbs.

A note on carbs: simple sugars should be avoided when trying to lose weight, with the exception of post-workout to restore muscle glycogen. For pre and post workout nutrition, refer here: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showt...threadid=272067

Ab Principle #3:
Protein Consumption Should Be 1.3-2g/lb Of Bodyweight.

Calculate Your Protein & Carb Needs:

Daily Grams Of Protein:
Daily Grams Of Carbs:

Ab Principle #4:
Avoid Simple Sugars, Except Post Workout.

Ab Principle #5:
Have 1 Cheat Meal Every Week.

Eat absolutely whatever you want, this is your meal to enjoy after the good week you've had following your strict diet. Give yourself this meal, it won't mess you up. Just don't let it get way out of control. An acceptable cheat meal is something like a nice piece of cake and ice cream, not a whole cake and carton of ice cream. What will mess you up is after a couple weeks of following a totally strict diet; you just go on an eating binge and gain back all the fat you just lost.

Ab Principle #6:
Don't Go On A Low Carb Diet.

I'm not going to go into details with this, but we all know what you will lose weight on a low carb diet, but it's not weight that you will actually keep off for a long time. Using carb cycling can be beneficial, but a low carb diet all the time is no good.

That wraps up the basics for dieting for fat loss. Now on to cardio.

Cardio

Cardio is essential when looking to maximize fat loss, it won't be the "holy grail" that will make you lose 20lbs fast, diet and proper weight training will do that for you, but it will help, plus cardio has great health benefits. There are different ways of approaching cardio.[list][*]High intensity cardio. The most popular of these is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Here are some good links to HIIT:

Low Intensity Cardio

    When you do high intensity cardio, it usually takes about 20 minutes, while doing low intensity cardio takes longer. But in reality, the amount of calories burned is almost the same, no matter if you run it, or walk it.

    Some very overweight people can't handle HIIT, they could run into serious medical problems. Low intensity cardio is the perfect answer for them. Start off low and gradually build your time walking up, or increase the pace a little. Some links on low intensity cardio:

    Cardio: Low Intensity Or High Intensity?

Ab Principle #7:
Perform High Intensity Cardiovascular Exercise 2-3 Times Weekly.

There's no need to kill yourself doing cardio 6 times per week. Three HIIT sessions is plenty of cardio to burn fat.

Ab Principle #8:
Perform Low Intensity Cardiovascular Exercise 3-6 Times Weekly.

There's no problem with taking a long walk every morning, but for someone extremely overweight, 3 times a week would be a better starting platform.

Training The Abdominals

Doing any type of ab workout won't get you a sixpack, we've already covered that. But it still is good to train the abdominals with resistance, because:

  • The abdominals are a muscle, and they shouldn't be neglected, just like you wouldn't neglect your chest.
  • Having a good "core" will also help and provide more safety for the big compound movements (ie squat, deadlift)

Ab Principle #9:
Perform Low Intensity Cardiovascular Exercise 3-6 Times Weekly.

Train abs with resistance, with 8-15 reps

Ab Principle #10:
Do Not Do Ultra High Rep Ab Work

You won't do yourself any good busting yourself with sets of 1,000 crunches. Keep reps low, like any other exercise, with about 8-15 reps, and use resistance.

What exercises do you do? You can do a search anywhere and you'll find a bunch of ab exercises, but I'll give a sample one:

    Swiss ball crunches
    Hanging leg raises
    Side bends

For each exercise, do 3 sets of 8-15 reps. Add weight when and if possible. Perform 1-3 times a week. It's nothing too complicated, and very easy to make your own ab workout.

This wraps up ab training and how to get those visible abs. And don't forget:

Ab principle #10:
Stay Motivated, And Be Consistent!

Here's all of the principles again:

    Ab Principle #1: Making your abs visible is all about how low your BF (bodyfat) percent is.

    Ab Principle #2: You must eat less than your maintenance caloric intake.

    Ab Principle #3: Protein consumption should be 1.3-2g/lb of bodyweight.

    Ab Principle #4: Avoid simple sugars, accept post workout.

    Ab Principle #5: Have 1 cheat meal every week.

    Ab Principle #6: Do not go on a low carb diet.

    Ab Principle #7: Perform high intensity cardiovascular exercise 2-3 times weekly.

    Ab Principle #8: Train abs with resistance, with 8-15 reps.

    Ab Principle #9: Do not do ultra high rep ab work.

    Ab Principle #10: Stay motivated, and be consistent!

Bonus

If I were to go on vacation, I would try as hard as you could to keep the same exercises, but I would just increase the resistance without weights. Just perform the reps slower, and really hold out and squeeze at the top.

Another thing that I had to do during lacrosse season was lay flat on the floor, and raise up your feet about 1/2 of a foot, and keep your feet together.

Hold that position for at least 60 seconds. Do this for a few sets. As the days progress, increase the time by about 15 seconds each day, and more if you can handle it.


3rd Place - mivi320 (Tie)

What Is The Best Ab Training Routine?

Abs. Everybody wants them and everybody has them. Yep, that's right. The abdomen is a muscle, just like any other muscle in the body. The abdomen muscle is not as developed and prominent for those who don't have a distinguished sixpack. The abs are there, but a layer of fat or lack of development is the reason why that sixpack is nonexistent.

How do you develop the abdomen muscles to get that visible sixpack? What are the best ways to shed that unwanted layer of fat covering up those abs? What about supplements? Are genetics holding you back from accomplishing your goals of getting that nice set of abs? Read on to find out!

Nutrition

In the realm of bodybuilding, fitness, and overall health, nutrition certainly plays a key role. Proper nutrition is vital for fueling intense workouts, maintaining homeostasis, and encouraging growth. Proper nutrition also goes a long way in helping you achieve your goals of obtaining that sixpack. It's simple. If you're carrying around a bit of extra fat tissue, then it's logical to go on a diet that focuses on a calorie deficit which will ultimately cause your body to drop that unwanted fat around the midsection.

Less fat tissue around the midsection translates into better distinguishment of the abdominal muscles. Be sure to eat balanced meals, preferably 4-6, throughout the course of the day including all 3 macronutrients into those meals. Eat a variety of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for optimal results.

Below is a list of acceptable foods that should be eaten on a regular basis:

Protein Shake Recipes.
Are you tired of drinking the same boring, bland tasting proteins shakes? Try these superb shakes and mix things up!

Proteins

    -Chicken Breasts
    -Lean Steak
    -Salmon
    -Fish
    -Eggs
    -Milk
    -Turkey
    -Lean Pork
    -Cheese
    -Protein Shake

Carbohydrates

    -Old Fashioned Oatmeal
    -Brown Rice
    -Potatoes
    -Whole-grain Cereal
    -Barley
    -Beans
    -Whole Wheat Bread
    -Pasta
    -Fibrous Vegetables
    -Fruits

Fats

All of these foods can be incorporated into a nutrition program designed just for bringing out that sixpack as long as they fit into the daily quota of calories needed. Simple as that!

Cheating

    "Cheating" is acceptable also, but must be kept to a minimum while trying to shed fat. A piece of cheesecake or a slice of pizza once or twice a week isn't going to hamper your progress much. If you're one of those people who can stay on a diet without indulging into junk foods, then more power to you.

Training The Abs

There is no "magic" ab training routine out there. Everybody is different and responds differently to various training techniques. To recommend one ab training program for everyone is quite foolish.

However, there are a few guidelines to follow when training the abdomen muscles.

Guidelines

  • Train the ab muscles with added resistance. This can be done by simply holding a weighted medicine ball or weighted plate while performing crunches.

  • Go by feeling, rather than counting reps. With much harder movements like hanging leg raises, refrain from counting repetitions. Direct your attention on contracting the abdomen muscles and feeling them being recruited.

  • Train abs after completing your workout. At this point, you're drenched in sweat and very exhausted. This correlates into a much more difficult ab training session, thus creating great resistance. Just what you want. Training abs after completing your workout also prevents potential injuries.

  • Progression. Each and every ab training session, add more resistance. This can be done by simply performing weighted sit-ups one week with the addition of a 25 lb. plate one week and then performing sit-ups the following week with a 35 lb. plate the subsequent week. Better yet, occasionally try aiming for a certain amount of time instead of counting repetitions. Crunch at a steady pace for 3 minutes one workout, and go for 4 minutes the following workout.

Like I mentioned earlier, everyone is different and reacts differently to various training methods. Same concept applies to choice of exercises.

Below is a brief list of exercises for the abdominals that will get you that rock hard pair of abs:

    -Decline Crunch
    -Weighted Sit-Up
    -Side Bend
    -Cable Crunch
    -Hanging Leg Raise
    -Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
    -Leg Pull-In
    -Janda Sit-up

Again, the above is just a brief list. Pick and chose your own arsenal of exercises to develop and sculpt out those solid abdominal muscles!

Cardiovascular Activity

Alright, you've got your nutrition program and ab training in check, but what about cardio? Cardiovascular activity will play a very significant role in bringing out those abs. With the addition of a sound nutrition regimen, cardio will bring you one step closer to achieving your goals.

The choice of cardiovascular activity is totally up to you. Whether it be sprinting, walking in the park with the dog, shooting hoops with the fellas, or jogging on a treadmill, just get moving!

Supplements

Before even touching on the topic of supplements, be sure that a calorie deficit is created along with a solid ab training program. Are supplements necessary? No. Do they help you achieve your goals faster? Yep, sure do! Protein powders, MRPs, and protein bars are so convenient, and will help you out if you're in a jam at work or school.

Fat burners will turn your dreams of obtaining a visible sixpack into reality along with a solid nutrition, ab training regimen, and cardiovascular activity at a quicker rate. Caffeine will provide your body with ample energy to have great workouts, even when on a calorie restricted diet.

    Bottom line: Supplements can be very beneficial and can effectively aid you in reaching your goals!

Genetics

Are genetics holding you back from getting a nice set of abs? Definitely not.

Sure, we all have different body types: Endomorphic, Ectomorphic, and Mesomorphic. We all have certain limitations on what we can do. But with hard work, dedication, devotion, and a great work ethic, anything is possible.

What Is Your Body Type? Take Our Test!
What body type are you? How can you tell? Take our simple test and know! Learn how to train for your body type and what the differences are. With pics!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

The right ab training program will allow each and every one of us despite body type, to create a nice set of rock solid abs along with proper nutrition, exercise, and cardiovascular activity.

How Long Does It Take To See Results?

It's solely up to the individual. Everybody progresses at a different rate. There is no set standard of weeks or months of just how long it takes to notice results.

With a proper calorie deficit established, the individual should expect to lose up to 0.5-1.0lb. per week. Each week, the ab muscles should appear with more muscular definition!

Bonus

On vacation, while away from weights and machines, I would perform bodyweight abdominal exercises while setting a stopwatch for 5 minutes. I would proceed by crunching for the entire 5 minutes, focusing on contracting and making every rep count.

I would train abs after cardiovascular activity since by then I'll be warmed up and sweating. I'd simply place my feet under a piece of furniture in the hotel or simply raise them a few inches off the ground, and continue to crunch. Even effective abdominal training can be done while on vacation!

Best of luck with your Ab training,
Mike


3rd Place - sword chucks (Tie)

Do You Have Some Band-Aids? For The Cuts You Are About To Have?

It's no secret. There is something very simple about getting abs. Getting down to that level of bodyfat that makes you the center of attention for the girls at the beach, and that makes all the guys ask "do you work out??", is a goal of many guys.

Why isn't everyone at the beach peeled to the bone with abs? People try, they really do. But there are too few people that know what it takes to lower their body fat to a noticeably low level.

The Secret

Here is the secret. You cannot expect to have abs if you have no muscle! As a bodybuilder you have to have, at one point, seen a skinny kid flexing his stomach and sneered... "he may think he is cut but its just a skinny pack!" A skinny pack is not the way to go. For a few reasons.

    1. The abdominal muscles will have little development if you diet down and will not look good if they show up at all!

    2. Everyone knows its easy for skinny kids to have abs so people don't think much of it. Especially us bodybuilders. While you may not want other peoples' opinions to affect you, you know they do.

This is why getting abs takes extra patience. If you want abs you need to start priming your body for a 6-pack waaayyyy before the summer months. This will ensure your success!

Priming The Body For Abs

    The "priming" phase of obtaining abs is what most of us would call a "bulking" phase. This is not necessary for someone who has 1/2 or more years of serious bodybuilding experience but for those of you who don't, this pretty much sums it up:

      1. Take some time and find a training routine that you are comfortable with.

      2. The training routine should take care of the WHOLE PACKAGE. Most importantly are squats and deadlifts. These will strengthen your back and core significantly, aiding your posture. Having good posture is important for those of you shooting to have a board for a stomach.

      3. Focus on building your strength up in the 4-8 rep range using good form. This will make your muscles bigger and better looking.

After You Are Primed To Get Abs

    Once you have gained a good amount of muscle weight, you will likely have some fat mass as well. Here are some pointers for when you want to diet down!

      1. Be patient

      2. Set goals each week

      3. Stay motivated by looking at pictures of everyday people who are at a body fat level that you want to be at.

Training Tips

While dieting, keep using the same method of training that worked best when you wanted to gain mass. It would be foolish to recommend just one program for someone dieting because everyone is different.

For me a high volume, high frequency split has always worked, so I use it while dieting. If HIT works, then do it! The idea is to maintain muscle and if you are gaining strength then you are not losing muscle.

Cardiovascular Activity

There are two levels of cardio as I see it. One is workout-level cardio. This can include a long hard run or a nice sprinting session that really fatigues you. This should be treated like a workout and you should use your regular pre and post workout nutrition protocol for these cardio sessions.

The other level of cardio is anything that slightly elevates your heart rate. This is different for everyone. If your fitness level is really high then you can mess around shooting hoops, or play tennis or badminton without hurting recovery. Walking is a great idea. Make sure not to spend so much time doing this that it makes you miss meals though

Diet Tips

Fats and Carbs burn in an amino acid flame. Amino acids raise your metabolism because of the amide complex which contains Nitrogen- a hard substance to metabolize. So eat lots of protein. Good protein sources include fish, eggs, lean meats and chicken.

Lowering carbs will not cause muscle loss! Instead of using carbs your body will use amino acids for its gluconeogenesis (the formation of glucose from non-carbohydrate molecules).

Lowering carbohydrates will cut the fat off before you know it. Studies show that a low carb diet allows a great environment for fat loss.

Include some non-fat dairy products in your diet because inadequate calcium intake blunts fat loss.

As always, consume upwards of 6 meals a day. Skipping meals to lose weight is counter-productive. The weight regulating mechanism, called the "Set Point", will protect itself from starvation when you miss a meal by slowing down your metabolism! Keep these meals small. Each meal should have a good portion of the day's protein to allow for a steady nitrogen balance.

Consume carbohydrates only around your workouts (weight training or intense cardio) and upon waking. Besides that, it is okay to have some dairy. Before going to bed, many people like to consume cottage cheese for its anti-catabolic properties.

You should not even be thinking about simple carbohydrates and there are a million reasons for this. 2 good ones include that sugar lowers blood sugar, making you crave more sugar, and that having sugar will lead to a good environment for fat gain instead of fat loss. Simple carbs are okay to having around a workout for recovery purposes though.

Tips for eating out:

  • Ask questions!

  • Request substitutions or changes

  • Get sauce on the side always.

  • Ask for lower fat condiments if necessary

  • Eat smaller amounts

  • Alcohol is high in calories

Supplements

You can add in supplements as you see fit if you can afford them. There is a whole world of supplements out there. Picking up a fat loss product like a thermogenic or hormone related product will speed up the amount of fat lost. Stimulants will help energy levels and keep you in a good mood to be motivated and train hard!

* Note, caffeine can lower blood sugar making you hungry, and dehydrate you.

Exercise Selection

To start this section, I should say that ab exercises are just like exercises for any other muscle - you can use machines, dumbbells, plates, whatever you like best, just as long as you can consistently make progress on the exercises.

For me, I like the trunk twist machine, cable crunches, and legs-straight-out leg raises. I know someone else who likes to do super high rep bodyweight exercises. Whatever you do, aim to improve.

Applying Math To Your cut

Let's say to get a good set of abs you need to be at 10% body fat. At the end of your priming stage you are at 16 to 18% bodyfat and 160 to 200 pounds or higher depending on height. This means to lose 1% of bodyfat you must lose 1% of your total body weight, or 1.6 to 2.0 lbs. As you cut down weight loss tends to slow, however, so it may look something like this:

Week 1 - 6 lbs. lost (water weight included)
Week 2 - 3 lbs. lost, or about 1 to 1.5% bf lost
Week 3 - 1.5 lbs. lost or about .5 to 1% bf lost
Week 4 - 1.5 lbs. lost

Using this knowledge, you can decide what will be a good time frame for you to lose enough fat to have a nice set of abs.

Each week you should not just see more of your abs but also more definition in your entire body. The end result will be worth all of the consistency that you put in.

Bonus

I know a nice ab superset that can be done when you are off on vacation to keep your abs solid.

First, lie on the edge of a bed and hold your upper body steady. Raise your legs up from parallel to the ground until they are just short of perpendicular to the ground and at the top raise your hips up. Repeat this until failure. Then, immediately go into a crunch position with your feet in the air and do crunches until failure.

This superset hits every part of the stomach and while it's probably not a good idea to rely on that for your abdominal size gains all the time, it is enough to maintain size over a vacation period.

If You Could Have Anybodys Abs, Who's Would You Want?
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What Is The Best Ab Training Routine?
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