Wouldn't it be nice to be able to relax with a six-pack? Ok, maybe we aren't thinking about the same thing here... I'm not talking about relaxing in front of the television with a cold one. I'm talking about not having to worry about having a gut to go with that cold one.
We all strive for those etched in stone abs with deep cuts that you could wash clothes on. However, obtaining those abs aren't as easy as what people may think. Many think that if they simply do a whole bunch of crunches that they will have abs of steel in no time.
This is a huge misconception! People need to understand that obtaining rock hard abs includes many factors that will be explained throughout this article.
But first, let's learn a little about these very thin muscles...
The abs consist of several muscles - The rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, external obliques, and the internal obliques. The abdominals originate along various places on the rib cage and then attach along various places on the pelvis. They are located on the front and sides of the lower half of the torso.
There are different degrees of deepness with the abdominals. Here is a list of the abdominal muscles from deep to superficial:
- Transverse Abdominus
- Internal Obliques
- External Obliques
- Rectus Abdominus
The abdominals as a whole provide postural support. Each specific muscle has it's own function. The rectus abdominus flexes the spine, which brings the rib cage closer to the pelvis. This can be demonstrated while doing abdominal crunches.
Click Image To Enlarge.
The Rectus Abdominus Is Very Important In Crunches.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod
The rectus abdominus is also what gives us that six-pack effect. The transverse abdominus is like wearing a back support belt, only on the inside of your body-the muscle itself cannot be touched due to its deepness.
The transverse abdominus keeps your insides in you and is especially used for trunk stability. Both the internal and external obliques are used to stabilize the abdomen. They also specifically help with rotation and lateral flexion of the spine.
- Abdominal Crunches
- Abdominal Sit-Ups
- Cable Crunches
- Swiss Ball Crunches
- Abdominal Machine Crunches
- Decline Board Sit-Ups
- Leg Raises
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Reverse Crunches
- Side Bends
- Side Crunches
It is important to tighten your abs by trying to suck your belly button in try and touch your spine before starting any abdominal exercise. This will make sure you have proper stabilization in your hips, pelvis, and lower back. By doing this it also helps strengthen the transverse abdominus, which is the deepest abdominal muscle.
Here is what perfect abs should look like:
Click Image To Enlarge.
Dexter Jackson At The 2006 Arnold Classic.
View More Pics From The 2006 Arnold Classic Here.
Abdominal Forum Tips
Here are some abdominal tips from some of the members of the Bodybuilding.com forum:
papi93 - BodySpace
"For crunches... I like the ball better than the floor. The ball allows you to get a fuller ROM and places a nice pre-stretch on the abs before performing the concentric contraction."
BodySculpting - BodySpace
"Remember the main thing for visible abs is lower body fat. Anyway, your abs get indirectly trained through other exercises like DB shoulder presses, deadlifts and Squats. Other than that, hit them with and without weight. Personally, I do rope crunches and regular crunches on the ball."
Chubbawubba - BodySpace
"The ball can be useful, I find it easier to do crunches on the ball, also I do things like Russian twists and stabilized squat thrusts, but for me nothing beats the floor. V-sits, crunches and oblique crunches usually do the job. Or grab a chin up bar and do some hanging knee/leg raises for lower abs."
Absane - BodySpace
"You have abs. Everyone has abs. However, it takes a low BF% to see them and some hypertrophy/strength exercises to make them bigger."
Trickae - BodySpace
Step One - Reduce Body Fat:
Step Two - Advanced Midsection Exercises:
Posted by waynlucky a while ago:
The following exercises should be performed as described. But please do not do all these exercise, or overtraining will occur, and your abdomen will get smaller and weaker. Just do the side bend, trunk curl, reverse trunk curl and heel high trunk curl, which I outlined for a month.
Do these three times per week for one week, then twice a week for three week then one time per week for one week. After that return to it in three months. In the mean time just do two to three of the below exercises two to three times per week, each exercise should be done 2 sec. up 4 sec. down, well hopefully, hehehe. If you find you can't do the trunk curls as described, put a 10 pound plate on your feet and reduce the weight of the plate each new training session.
Trunk Curl On Floor
This exercise activates your rectus abdominals by relaxing your iliopsoas muscles. Lie face up on the floor. Keep your chin on your chest. Bring your heels up close to your buttocks and spread your knees. Do not anchor your feet under anything, and don't have a partner hold your knees down. Anchoring the feet brings into action other muscles.
Try to curl your trunk smoothly to a sitting position. Only one third of a standard sit-up can be done in this fashion. Pause in the contracted position and lower your trunk slowly to the floor. Repeat until positive muscular failure. When twelve or more repetitions can be accomplished, add a barbell plate behind your head. Move immediately to the hanging leg raise.
Hanging Leg Raise
The trunk cud effectively isolates your rectus abdominis muscles. The leg raise involves your iliopsoas or hip flexors, as well as your lats, to force your pre-exhausted abdominals to deeper levels of fatigue.
Hang on to an overhead bar. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. Raise your legs smoothly and touch your toes to the bar. Lower your legs slowly to the bottom position. Do not bend your arms during the raising or lowering. Keep them straight throughout the movement. Repeat for eight to twelve repetitions. Move without resting to the side bend.
Grasp a heavy dumbbell in your right hand. Stand erect and place your left hand on top of your head. Bend laterally to your right. This bending works your left oblique muscles. Return smoothly to the erect position. Repeat the bending to your right for twelve repetitions. Switch the dumbbell to your left hand and perform twelve lateral bends to your left side.
Reverse Trunk Curl
This exercise also works your rectus abdominis, but from the opposite direction. Lie face up on the floor with your hands on either side of your hips. Bring your thighs on your chest so your knees and hips are in a flexed position. Curl your pelvic area toward your chest by lifting your buttocks and lower back. Pause in the contracted position. Lower your buttocks to the floor. Repeat for twelve repetitions.
All there exercises will cause your abdominals to contract as never before. You may even experience temporary muscle cramps during the some of these movements, especially if your abdominals are weak. Don't be concerned. This is simply an indication that you're involving fibers you have not previously worked.
Heel-High Trunk Curl
Lie on the floor and place your calves on the top of a bench. Position yourself so your thighs are at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Place your hands behind your head and your chin on your chest. Curl your trunk to your knees. Pause, and lower slowly to the floor.
Repeat for twelve repetitions. When you can perform more than twelve repetitions, make the movement harder by putting a barbell plate behind your head. You may also perform the exercise by twisting at the top, which involves more of your obliques in the movement.
Discipline and patience is now needed, but mostly low body fat and great genetics.
That's it for your midsection, one set of some of the above exercises performed in succession until momentary muscular exhaustion. Don't make the mistake of training your midsection more frequently or with higher repetitions than your other muscles.
Remember, spot reduction of body fat is not possible. If you have too much fat around your waist, you probably also have too much fat over the rest of your body. Adhere to a balanced, lower calorie diet to reduce your percentage of body fat, and train you body in the prescribed, hit, high intensity training style."
[ Q ] How often do you train abs?
tetsuo - BodySpace
"1-2 a week for me."
NAP s king - BodySpace
"Once a week year-round, twice in the summer months (in Canada, that means July and August)."
stealth swimmer - BodySpace
"Twice a week. One workout is crunches and leg lifts or some sort of crunching motion as well as side crunches for the serratus. The other day is for obliques (mainly twists) and vacuums. I usually do the second workout at home. I definitely don't do vacuums at the gym, that would seem kind of strange."
[ Q ] What are some good lower ab exercises?
-chris2- - BodySpace
What I Want Fitnesscast
Ab Crunch Swiss Ball Workout
Personal trainer Mike Causadias is back with another episode of What I Want Fitnesscast. This week he focuses on a swiss ball exercise routine for abdominals.
Get More Ab Information!
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