Everything you need to know about abs
Building Jewel Like Abs
There are health reasons for reducing the waist and building a good set of abs, ab training is the key to good health. All ab exercises have a great toning effect on the internal organs which results in internal well-being.
Ab training also prevents low-back injuries by improving posture. When the abdominals weaken, the organs sag forward out of position (a condition called prolapsis) throwing the hips and the spine forward, thus causing spinal and lower back problems. Building strong abs prevents prolapsis and alleviates tension from the lower back as well. It's important to build strong abs for other reasons too...
Photo by Celso Pinto
What's Your Weakest Link?
The muscles of the body are like links of a chain; the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If your abs are the weak link in your body, they limit the amount of weight you can handle in important mass-building exercises like squats, deadlifts, bent-over barbell rows, cable rows, standing presses, barbell curls, and virtually every upper and lower body exercise.
Limiting the amount of weight you can handle limits the amount of size you build and leaves you susceptible to injury, an injury that could set you back for weeks, months, or even end your career.
Abs are of paramount importance to a competitive bodybuilder. As a bodybuilder, you must constantly be aware of things such as shape, proportions, and symmetry. The abs are the first muscle group people look at when you're onstage since the eyes are naturally drawn to the center of the body and then move on to scan other muscle groups later. The abs are an interesting muscle group from the aspect that they are a telling barometer on your condition, instantly revealing to judges and onlookers whether you are in shape or not. If your abs are rock-hard, and deeply separated like the rows of a washboard, the judges and audience immediately know you are in shape and have come to compete because when the abs are in shape, so must be the rest of your physique. It is virtually impossible to have a ripped midsection and to have the rest of your physique smooth. It can't happen.
First impressions are lasting impressions. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Walk out onstage with a rock-hard, ripped-up midsection, with abs that are thick, deeply ridged and separated, and you can't help but make a big impact on the judges' and audience's minds. They can't help but take notice of you. Walk out onstage with smooth abs and you're history before you hit your first pose. The judges will have subconsciously within three seconds of viewing you placed you out of the running, no matter how big your arms or pecs are, or how the rest of your physique looks.
The shape and number of rows of abs you have is genetically determined. If you lack a good ab structure, no amount of exercise will build prize-winning abs on you. Also, if your abs are not in nice even rows, training will not alter this.
The number of rows of rectus muscle is limited by genetics too. Most people have three distinct rows, but a few like seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger have only two.
A few rare bodybuilders have four rows. Occasionally some people are able to bring out an extra row in the tower ab region through hard work, but most will not.
Exercise Alone Will Not Bring Out The Abs
A common fallacy is to reduce a spare tire around the waist, all that is needed is specific ab exercises.
You often hear someone saying, "Yeah, I'm trying to reduce my waist so I do 50 situps every morning." Doing 50 sit-ups every morning is certainly going to help to build the basic rectus muscle (at least in the upper section of the abs), but it is highly doubtful that it will reduce the size of the waist very much, at least with most people.
A few genetic elite who are naturally muscular and can seem to spot-reduce a little in one area of the body through exercise alone, but even they have to watch their diet to achieve this spot reduction.
The vast majority of people will not dissipate much fat from their waists through exercise alone. The short story is good abs and a muscular waistline cannot be built by exercise alone.
It's a combination of special ab exercises performed the proper way, along with a good all-around bodybuilding routine, a proper low-fat diet and aerobics that will allow you to create a muscular waistline.
Watch What You Eat If You Want Those Abs To Show
The other main reason why today's champions are more cut up than the champs of 20 years ago is that all champs today follow low-fat diets. Some may eat more carbs and less protein, or more protein and less carbs, but all champs keep their fats low and watch the foods they eat. Proteins tend to be egg whites, skinless fish and poultry, with very little red meat and dairy products such as cheese and milk, which are too high in fats.
Complex carbs such as yams, baked potatoes, brown rice, and pasta are eaten. Low-fat, high nutrition foods like oatmeal, steamed vegetables and salads are emphasized.
Try to eat five or six small meals a day as opposed to three large meals a day, which hamper digestion and often cause bloating.
When you eat like this and exercise hard, the fat has to come off. When the fat comes off, the ab development you possess will show.
If you're interested in learning more about exercise and developing a work out regime, I suggest reading my article on Muscle & Fitness. Just like this lens it's not trying to sell you the information, it's just good old fashioned free advice.