A great set of abs is a function of two factors - abdominal muscles and low bodyfat. A major factor is to have a low bodyfat level, usually below 9%, because the less fat on top of them, the more visible the abs.
As far as for which ab exercises to do, there are dozens of them but some of them work the midsection 100%. In fact scientists have an amazing tool called Electromyografy (EMG) that shows how much muscles work during specific exercises. Scientists place electrodes over a muscle belly. The harder the muscle works, the more electricity is measured on the EMG. EMG studies show that the best ab exercises are bench crunches, hanging leg raises, pulldown crunches, swiss ball crunches, vertical crunches (especially on a swiss ball) and swiss ball side cruches.
So I combine these marvelous exercises and use them in my training session two times a week. Beware that the above routine is for people who are somewhat advanced in their fitness level and have some experience doing ab exercises with proper form.
The main training session I do for my abs is pretty hardcore so please don't do it alone or without the proper guidance from a qualified trainer.
I do 4 giant sets, including all of these exercises I wrote before, with one minute rest between them in order to keep my heart rate high. A giant set is a form of a very intense set that consists of various exercises and you do them all without rest between them. After you are finished performing the whole series of exercises, you can rest a little, with the amount of rest depending on your fitness level. So I do:
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As you can see, my ab routine consists of exercises on a Swiss ball. With Swiss balls, you can work through a greater range of motion, activate more muscle fibers than regular exercises, and therefore you can have very intense ab workouts when perfomed properly.
EXERCISE 1 Crunches
Lie flat on the floor with the legs over a bench so that the thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Cross the arms over the chest. Don't place the arms behind the head, as there is a serious possibility to pull the body forward with the arms, thereby taking the focus off the abs and the chance of injuring the neck region increases. Once you are in the proper starting position, simply raise your upper back off the floor very slowly and roll forward until you reach the end point of the movement.
EXERCISE 2 Hanging Leg Raises
Take an overhand grip on a pull-up bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart and allow your body to hang freely. Keeping your legs straight and toes pointed, exhale and slowly lift your legs upward, avoiding the use of momentum until your body forms an "L" shape in mid-air. Pause a moment before slowly lowering your legs back to the start.
EXERCISE 3 Cable Crunch
Use the rope attachement on the high cable pulley. Kneel facing the machine and grap hold of the rope and put your hands against your forehead. You then begin the exercise by slowly moving your body downwards in an arc, rounding your back and trying to get your elbows to touch your knees. Contract for 2 seconds hard and return to the starting position.
EXERCISE 4 Exercise Ball Crunch
Balance yourself on an exercise ball with your arms folded across your chest or behind your head, your focus on the ceiling and your feet flat on the floor. Your starting position should find your back slightly arched over the curve of the ball. Exhale and slowly lift your upper body off the ball, keeping your focus high and your elbows wide. Pause a moment in the topmost position before inhaling and slowly lowering yourself back to the start.
Position a bench near the Swiss ball so you be able to grab it. Lie on the ball with your hands over your head gripping the bench behind it, your back flat and your knees bent and held above your hips. This is your starting position. From here, slowly curl your knees up and in toward your head, lifting first your tailbone, then your hips, off the ball. When your knees come to eye level, reverse the motion and slowly uncurl. Pass the start position and extend your legs straight out and away from you, keeping your back stable on the ball and your shoulders down. Squeeze for a moment and come back to the start.
EXERCISE 5 Weighted Ball Side Bend
Lie on a Swiss ball, place your feet on the floor, knees bent and spread your legs so your feet are slightly more than shoulder width apart. Slowly raise your upper and mid back off the ball and turn to your right so you are in an oblique curl position. Squeeze for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.
EXERCISE 6 Reverse Crunch
I must mention again that this abdominal training routine is very demanding and you need to have a lot of experience in training methods and more than one year of fitness training.
Conclusion And Tips
I usually do the above training program in the summer when I want to have those hard-ripped abs, but one good training routine on its own is not good enough to achieve a fantastic midsection. Here are some tips that I'm sure are gonna help you to get those super ripped abs like they did for me.
- Diet is the most important factor when you are trying to get the sixpack look. Try to have a diet that is high protein with moderate to low carbohydrate and fat intake, spread over 5-6 meals throughout the day.
- Begin a training program for each bodypart to develop your overall muscle mass and increase your basal metabolic rate.
- Try not to eat carbohydrates in your last meal of the day as the are likely to be stored as bodyfat. In fact, it's best not to eat them after 6 pm.
- Do as much cardio as you can. Try to do some form of cardio at least six days a week for 40-45 minutes.
- Use a thermogenic product from a reputable company, as it going to help you burn more calories than usual.
- Cut dairy products as they are gonna make you keep water and make you puffy.
I'm sure by doing this ab routine and using all of the above tips you will be on the right path to get a hard ripped six-pack and make everyone envy you on the beach this summer. Good luck with the program!