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I met up with Bill again at Diamond Gym to video tape him doing his basic abs workout. When you view Bill's introduction to this workout, many of you might be surprised to learn about his big secret for building professional-grade abs, because when it comes to this, less is better.
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Now I know this notion may stir things up a bit, because most people knock themselves out, and never have abs come close to the way Bill's abs look, but when you hear what he has to say, and watch his abs workout, Bill's approach will make perfect sense.
Bill admits his abs are one of his strongest body parts, however, he still has to train them properly so they pop, and are the right size, with that V-shape everybody wants. Building your abs to be aesthetically the best to win bodybuilding contests is a much different goal then building your abs for optimum sports performance. Additionally, Bill emphasizes that good abs (abs that pop, that is) are also a result of good nutrition, and getting your body fat levels down to a point that reveals muscle definition.
Oh yeah, Bill even took his shirt off to show you his abs at work. Something you do not see professional bodybuilders doing very often, especially at 58 years of age.
As I mentioned in my first article, Bill Grant is Mr. Bodybuilding, and is at near contest readiness all of the time. I have to admit, while I have been training every day for most of my life, working with Bill on these Old-School Bodybuilding articles and videos has inspired me to pump up my workout intensity a few notches.
Bill and I have also teamed-up to create the Nutrition and Training Super-Seminar so people can spend the day with us, learning the science and practical applications of doing training, nutrition and supplements right.
I hope to see you some day at one of our Super-Seminars. But in the meantime, enjoy this and other Old-School Bodybuilding articles and videos.
A Quick Review Of The Abdominal Muscles (Abs)
The abdominal muscles are antagonists to the back muscles. The abs are engaged when sitting, standing, lifting, walking, running, jumping, throwing, and bending/moving the trunk of the body. Properly conditioned abdominal muscles help to unload the back muscles. For health and athletic performance, it is important to have well developed and strong abdominal muscles.
Therefore, the abdominals should be exercised progressively using heavy workloads to build strength. A word of caution however, it is recognized by the medical community that abdominal exercises need to be performed properly, especially if you have a back problem.
People with back problems need to use exercises that minimize the motion of the hip and forward curvature of the spine. If you have back pain problems, among other things, it is a sign of muscle imbalance and muscle tension, and even intervertebral disc problems.
It is best to work with a physical therapist under the supervision of a doctor to identify what is causing your problem and can create therapeutic stretching and strengthening program for you to correct these muscle imbalances. The same is true for people with bad posture, and hip pain; get it checked out.
Working with a professional physical therapist is not just for old people, but for the young as well. Athletes typically have muscle imbalance and tension problems in the back and hip areas that lead to a life of "back pain" later on. It is best to correct these muscle imbalance problems early in life to avoid developing back pain, hip pain, and intervertebral disc problems, by making sure you have adequate muscle balance and flexibility.
As the abdominals are antagonists of the back muscle it is important to keep them strong. A general observation among experts is that most people have weak abdominal muscles in general, but especially when compared to the strength of their back muscles. So those crunches performed while lying on the floor may tighten and tone up the rectus abdominis, but they do very little for building and increasing the strength and size of this muscle.
To review, when we speak of the abdominal muscles we are generally referring to the muscles that occupy the front and side of the lower trunk of the body, found between the ribs and the pelvis. The following list will review these muscles, their names, and basic functions.
- Rectus abdominis muscle is the straight abdominal muscle that is connected to the upper part of the pubic bone and apex of the breastbone. It is involved in spinal flexion and stabilization during rotation of the upper and lower trunk.
- External oblique muscle (also Obliquus externus abdominis) is connected to the crest of the hipbone and lower ribs.
- Internal oblique muscle (Obliquus internus abdominis) is located under the external oblique. Together the external and internal oblique muscles, working with the rectus abdominis, are responsible for rotation, lateral flexion, and flexion of the trunk and spine.
- Transverse abdominal muscles (transverses abdominis) are found under the internal oblique muscles. They primarily are involved in pulling the abdomen inward. As such, this muscle is said to affect the figure or taper of the abdominals. One way you can engage the transverse abdominals muscles during abdominal and other exercises, when you exhale strongly.
- Pyramidalis is a small triangular shaped muscle found at the lower abdomen in front of the rectus abdominis muscle. It becomes engaged when the rectus is flexed, and is especially trained during exercises that target the lower part of the rectus muscle.
|Rectus abdominis||Pubic crest||Cartilage of fifth through seventh ribs and xiphoid process||Flexion and lateral flexion of trunk|
|External oblique||Anteriolateral borders of lower eight ribs||Anterior half of ilium, pubic crest, and anterior fascia||Lateral flexion of the trunk|
|Internal oblique||Iliac crest||Cartilage of last three to four ribs||Lateral flexion of the trunk|
|Transverse abdominis||Iliac crest, lumbar fascia, and cartilages of last six ribs||Xiphoid process of sternum, anterior fascia, and pubis||Compresses abdomen|
|Erector spinae||Posterior iliac crest and sacrum||Angles of ribs, transverse processes of all ribs||Extension of trunk|
Some of the major back muscles that are antagonists of the abdominal muscles include:
- Square lumbar muscle (quadratus lumborum)
- Back extensors also called erector spinae group
- Broad back muscle (lattissimus dorsi)
Bill's ab workout demonstration consists of machine crunches and leg raises. Bill chose these exercises so you can get the best ab workout in the shortest period of time. Bill has experienced the best abdominal muscle development using these two primary exercises. In a future article we will get more detailed instructions about fine-tuning the abs for contest preparation.
To help relieve the load to your lower back keep your abdominal muscles tensed when performing exercises, especially those exercises that directly put stress on the lower back.
Machine crunches are an excellent all around exercise for a total abdominal muscles workout. Crunch machines that have top and bottom motion are best, as they exercise the upper and lower rectus, and also engage the obliques and pyramidalis muscles.
Bill generally performs three sets, 15 repetitions, of machine crunches, twice a week.
Leg raises is the second of Bill's core abdominal exercises. In addition to exercising the rectus, leg raises also exercises the obliques, and iliopsoas (psoas major and iliacus muscles). During this exercise you can isolate the abdominals more if you limit the range of motion of your legs by not lowering them below the horizontal plane. Straightening your legs during this exercise will increase the difficulty of this movement.
Bill generally performs two Sets, 15 to 20 repetitions of leg raises, twice a week.
Additional Abdominal Muscle Exercises
It seems that there are dozens of additional exercises that can be performed for the abdominals. Bill tends to avoid the exercises that work his obliques directly. He has determined that for his body type, he does not want to increase the size of his obliques.
If you are looking to build up your obliques some examples include:
Aside from bodybuilders who are training for body proportions, not necessarily physical performance,
other athletes need to follow an abdominal exercise routine that is more comprehensive.
Bonus Video Clips
| Ab Tip
Make sure to work on your total body and mid section flexibility training a few to several times a week as required.
Many people have e-mailed us about offering Bill Grant's Old-School Bodybuilding SeriesTM videos on DVD. We are in the process of doing this and plan to offer Bill's basic 4 day per week workout on DVD along with extra exercises and tips; which is due out October 2005.
How Do The Experts Build Abs...
IFBB Pro - Wong Hong
My Ab Routine Is As Follows:
I train abs 3 times a week in the off season and 4-5 times a week when I am preparing for a show.
Super Model - Christina Lindley
My Ab Routine Is As Follows:
I do one set of this entire cycle 20-25reps each exercise, stretch, then go thru the entire cycle three times about every other day, or three times a week. Click Here For Printable Log Of Christina's Ab Workout...
Fitness Expert - Isaac Hinds
My Ab Routine Is As Follows:
The biggest thing about dialing your abs in is diet. You can do crunches or sit-ups every day all day but if you don't diet you will never see your abs.
Fitness Expert - Rob Thoburn
My Ab Routine Is As Follows:
Article Copyright © 2005 Bill Grant Nutrition and SUPPLEMENTFACTS International LLC. All rights reserved. Video Copyright © 2005 Bill Grant Nutrition. All rights reserved.
Notice and Disclaimer: This article is not intended for use as a substitute for consultation with a qualified medical practitioner. If you have symptoms of any illness or injury, it is essential that you see your doctor without delay for proper treatment. These videos are for education and entertainment purposes only. We strongly recommend that you consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. The viewer should understand that participating in any exercise program can result in physical injury and agrees to do so at their own risk. Additionally, Bill Grant is an advanced level bodybuilder and you should not expect to be able to follow his training program as demonstrated.