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The Abdomens - Development, Understanding, Progression.

Updated on February 8, 2013

What Are Abdominal Muscles?

Abdominal muscles consist of six muscles, which extend from numerous areas on the pelvis, to numerous areas on the ribs. Frequently referred to as, 'the core.' There are multiple types of abdominal muscles which include;

  • Transverse Abdominis - This muscle is the deepest, and cannot be physically touched. This provides major support for the spine as it wraps around the torso.
  • Internal Oblique Muscles - This type of abdominal muscles comes in a pair. They can be located on the sides of the torso. Typically just under the pectoral muscles. Similarly to the transverse abdominis they affect posture, only to a lesser extent. Some of features of their purpose include, rotation and lateral flexing of the spine
  • External Oblique Muscles - Very similar to the internal oblique, these add to posture stability. These are the muscles which becomes visible when body is reduced to the region of 8-12%, any men's fitness model is likely to have clear obliques on either side of the torso.
  • Rectus Abdominus - This is the group of muscles which most people will bust a nut for, just to achieve that, 'six pack,' look. Very popular throughout gym's worldwide to develop. However not only is the six pack look considered, 'appealing,' but it also helps, yet again, toward posture and stability.

Everyone has abdominal muscles, it is simply a mixture of body fat percentage and the size of the abdominal muscle.

Personal Abdominal Transformation Over Several Months

Self Taken Image For Body Transformation. Here we can see my abdomens are barely visible.   Taken on 16/10/12.
Self Taken Image For Body Transformation. Here we can see my abdomens are barely visible. Taken on 16/10/12.
Picture Taken At A Foam Party. Only after a few months, I have achieved much much more abdominal visibility.  Taken on 31/01/13.
Picture Taken At A Foam Party. Only after a few months, I have achieved much much more abdominal visibility. Taken on 31/01/13.
Picture Taken About A Week After The Foam Party. As we can see the definition is really starting to come through. Taken on 5/02/13.
Picture Taken About A Week After The Foam Party. As we can see the definition is really starting to come through. Taken on 5/02/13.
Picture Taken Just After Posting This Blog. Definition does not seem to be an issue anymore. Whatever I'm doing must be working. Taken on 7/02/13.
Picture Taken Just After Posting This Blog. Definition does not seem to be an issue anymore. Whatever I'm doing must be working. Taken on 7/02/13.

How To Achieve That Six Pack Look

Firstly, I know what you are thinking, "I'm not going to take advice from someone who probably doesn't even have a six pack." That would have been correct a few months ago. However, through developing my own routine and adapting my diet, I was able to develop a, 'six pack,' look. Proof of this, is displayed within the two pictures to the right.

I am still a long way off where I would like to be, but in only a few months, I have transformed my stomach region from a poggy sponge, to a hard mountain range... (Excuse the exaggeration on either side)

The key to getting a six pack (which is often a misconception by most people) is lowering your body fat percentage, a realistic ideal percentage would lay somewhere between 10-20% region, however going below will give you more definition, it is not recommended as many other health problems may arise.

It is only after you achieve this region of fat percentage, will doing direct abdominal exercises actually give you a visual improvement to your, 'Six Pack Look.' When performing direct abdominal stimulated exercises, you may read about, "Train Your Abs Everyday!" or, "Train Your Abs Like You Would Any Other Muscle." Both of these clearly contradict one another and leaves you not having a clue what to do.

Here is what I done...

I got myself a journal, and just tried and experimented different exercises. I tried doing hundreds upon hundreds of crunches per night. Then I tried resting a day or two then hitting them hard again. The truth is, everyone's body is different. For some people who have a very good diet, the healing process can become much quicker. For others, not so quick. I would advise giving the different methods a play around. The time spent reading the best way to develop abdomens should be spent (you guessed it) developing abdomens. (Ironically completely opposite to reading this blog... To compensate, drop and hold plank for a minute!)

Anyway... The method I found most effective was actually a mixture... Having no set exercises and just doing a wide range of crunches, in my head i thought if i move differently and preform each set until failure this will target the majority of muscle tissues. Sounds random, and most likely against everything you have read, but this really did work for me!

Exercises That You Can Feel Working

Some people believe that the classical sit ups is the most effective way to develop the abdomens... However, there are hundreds of different variations which will target numerous muscle fibres which otherwise would not get a look in. Here are exercises which re-occur regularly within my personal abdomen workouts;

  • Knee Up Crunch - Lay on your back, elevate your knees off the floor, use a bed or sofa to rest you lower legs on if necessary. Now using solely the abdomen region crunch your upper body toward your lower. Do not rush these, like any muscle conditioning exercise, it is all about the TUT. (time under tension) Do them, slowly up and slowly down, aim for three seconds up, one second hold at the top and three seconds down. Slow movements are key to develop abdomens.
  • Leg Up Crunch - Very similar to the previous exercise, lay on your back, but this time, extend your legs straight up into the air, so your upper body is at a right angle with your lower body. You can do this against a wall for stability if required. From here, crunch upwards and try to reach your toes. Again, nice and slowly. Take you time. Feel the burn. If you cannot reach your toes, do not worry, just make sure you can feel that burn.
  • Straights Side To Side - Adopt the same position as before, lay on your back and bring your legs straight up to form a right angle with your upper body, down slowly lower your legs to either the left or right side, keeping full tension in your arms while doing it, then bring them back up to centre and repeat the other side.
  • Bicycle Crunch - One of the best which i strongly recommend, lay on your back again, the key is to touch your elbow to your opposite knee, hence crunches your abdomens together to close the gap, then repeat the other side.

These are only four of the hundreds of variations out there, but these are the ones, I believe in. The most important thing for you to do, to develop your, six-pack, is to find your own style, find what works for you.

Some key abdomen training equipment which you may find very useful as I did, include such things as an, 'Ab Roller.' This is used to really tone the abdomen and give it that rock hard feel. Due to the constant tension required, it is a real burner and worth while investing in. I say invest, but the cost is nowhere near bank breaking anyway. Another key product is an exercise ball. It may seem odd, but laying on one of these, and trying to keep your upper body upwards demands high use of all the abdomen motor muscles, giving you an much all round abdomen workout.

To Conclude

If developing abdomens is not what you are trying to achieve... WHY HAVE YOU READ DOWN TO HERE?!?! Anyway... Developing and conditioning abdomens is key for great posture, improved sex appeal, improved self-fulfillment, just to name a few.

Remember to change your workout every now and again or alternate between two different workouts, so you can target more abdomen fibres per workout.

Just develop your own exercises to perform and they will then be tailored to you and provide the best benefit, whatever you can feel burning, is going to condition your abdomen region.

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