- Exercise & Fitness
Ab Workouts For Six Pack Success.
Want a six pack?
One of the first things the novice bodybuilder wants - straight after the massive biceps and big broad shoulders - is a display set of finely chiselled abdominal muscles.
The good news about that is the abdominals are one of the easiest groups to target, and with consistent, regular workouts can improve quickly in bulk and definition.
You can work your abs every other day and get results quickly. A targetted, focused workout routine will help you build your core muscles and define your abdominals for that lean, sculpted shape that attracts the eye.
But you still won't have a visible sixpack until your body fat levels are low enough for the muscles to show. If you're after an exhibition quality six pack to take with you to the beach come summer, you may have to work on what you eat, as well as your workout routine.
Having said that - don't ever starve yourself. That's counter-productive both in terms of building muscle and your general health. If you have substantial fat deposits, continue eating well while you follow a workout routine, and see what effect exercise has before you consider changing your diet. Don't eat less - eat better.
Got A Party Keg?
Your abdominals - a user's guide.
Your abdominal muscles support your trunk, enable it to move, and help you breathe. They also protect and support your body's organs, and work with your back muscles to provide postural support.
The transversus abdominus (TVA) muscle is flat and triangular, with horizontal fibers, and lies between the inner oblique and the underlying transversalis fascia.
It's the deepest of the major abdominal muscles (the others being the rectus abdominus, and the internal and external obliques).
It helps to compress your ribs and viscera, providing torso and pelvic stability.
The internal obliques also affect your posture. Both these and the TVA are involved in rotation and lateral flexion of the spine and are used to bend and support the spine from the front.
The external obliques are also involved in rotation and lateral flexion of the spine. They also stabilize the spine when upright.
The rectus abdominus is a long flat sheath of muscle crossed by three tendinous intersections called the linea transversae. It's the muscle you can build into a 6-pack, though it's really an 8-pack, with 4 vertical sections on each side. Its function is to bend your back forwards.
The pyramidalis muscle is small and triangular, and found in your lower abdomen in front of the rectus abdominis. It originates at the pubic bone and inserts into the linea alba halfway up to the umbilicus.
Your abdominal muscles.
Top secret abs workout?
So how do you go about building your abdominals? Is there a top secret formula, a collection of little known ab exercises that guarantee lightning fast results with zero effort?
There are more abdominal exercises out there than you can count, and the one thing they have in common is this: when push comes to shove I can barely remember how to do most of the more complicated ones. I grew tired of having to pause a workout to ask myself, 'What comes next?' It broke up the flow of the thing, and took up time I could have made better use of, and it generally happened when I came to my abdominals routine. So I decided to give most ab workouts the elbow and stick to three basic moves that cover all the bases as far as I can see.
Here's my 3 best abs workouts:
First of all, the sit-up.
Lie flat on your back, knees up and feet on the floor, arms crossed on your chest. Contract your abdominals and by doing so gently raise your torso off the floor, far enough that someone could slip their fist between your back and the floor. If that's too easy, add resistance by clutching a weight plate to your chest. Don't put your hands over your head, or clasp them behind your neck. Don't sit up too far, as this will strain your lower back. Remember, all you want to do is work your abs.
This exercise targets the rectus abdominis, the sheath of muscle that runs down the middle of the front of your body. Want a six-pack? Work on this.
When you've been training for a while, you can speed things up by getting one of those metal frame ab exercisers and training to exhaustion. Go for high reps, like 50 to 60 per set, and don't stop until the lactic acid build up makes you feel like you're being repeatedly stabbed. Let's face it, if you've been a body builder for a while, you're probably starting to enjoy the pain anyway. Afterwards, take a short break, then repeat. Probably best to allow a little more than the usual recovery time after doing this.
Pay attention to this guy's situp safety tips when you check out the video.
How to do sit ups.
Second, the sideways sit up. Or oblique crunch if you want to be fancy.
Lie on your side, legs together, knees drawn up slightly. Twist your torso so you're facing up, and lift it. Do ten each side. Again, if you find it too easy....ah, you're just showing off. This exercise targets the internal and external obliques, the muscles on either side of the rectus abdominis.
How to do the oblique crunch
Third and last, the leg scissors.
Lie on your back, legs together. Raise your feet six inches off the floor and, in a scissors movement, cross them back and forth over each other. Try for 40 reps. If that's too easy, add ankle weights.
Do not arch the back, and keep your lower back pressed firmly into the floor. If you get back pain, or you can't keep good form, try doing it with the legs raised a little higher. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works.
If that's still too hard, try something easier until you're strong enough to do this. This exercise targets the lower abs. (Some people will tell you that you can't target different parts of your abdominals. Just go ahead and do it anyway.)
I like this next video. He looks like a clockwork toy that's fallen over.
How to do the leg scissors
This is the 'after' pic.
Your simple sixpack workout
Three moves, and even I can remember them all. A good workout doesn't have to be complicated. This is how to get showroom abs. Enjoy.
When you've developed enough core strength through this simple routine, you can make things harder for yourself with another raised leg exercise. Lie flat on your back once more, raise your knees to your chest, then extend your legs until they're at full stretch with your heels six inches above the ground. Pull back to your chest, then rotate your pelvis slightly to the left, and extend your legs once more, this time out to the left. Back to centre, then rotate right and do the same on the other side. Repeat, left and right, for as may reps as you can manage in one set.
At all times, guard your lower back by not letting it arch.
To counter all that ab work, and to make sure you don't get pulled out of shape, work your back too. Lie face down and raise your legs and shoulders off the ground using your back muscles. Try three sets of ten to start.