Abdominals usually come last in the thoughts of today's body builders. Yet, nothing sets off a physique any better than a rippling, "cut-up" midsection and exercising it will build internal fitness as well. There are no secret exercises, no magic formulas, no short cuts to a perfect abdomen. The following tips, however, will definitely be of help. Try them!
Pick exercises ideal for YOU; forget those that are used by other if they don't suit you. HOW you train is more important than WHAT you use…In general, sit ups work most strongly on the upper abdominals. Leg ups get the lower region, while suctions give internal tone. Twists, side-bends add a finishing touch to abdominal appearance. Working the abdomen often is important and five sessions of 5 minutes a day will do more than one of 25 minutes. Daily exercise is superior to three times a week. Do your abdominals on an empty stomach - immediately after arising and just before sleeping are the best times…Sets are of minor importance in waist work. Instead of repeating extra sets, do more exercises in your routine. Instead of lower reps, done in sets, do more reps. Only use sets when you cannot reach higher reps, thus getting some work done, as you steadily add reps…Very difficult movements aren't as effective as basic exercises, performed in VERY STRICT style with co! ncentration. Work from one extreme to the other, during the movements…Fine cuts come from "burns", performed at the finish of each exercise when muscles are too tired to do more. Be careful of cramping when doing this!
Much weight in abdominal work isn't necessary. It cuts the reps and hinders correct performance while adding only strength….To specialize, try some abdominal work at the beginning, middle and the end of regular workouts. Or do one abdominal exercise between EACH of your normal movements…Speed results with a wide strip of flannel around the waist; cover it with rubber reducing pants or a wide belt made of inner tube. Sweat off fat!…After training when taking a shower, work on abdomen with your hands - rub it briskly, give deep massage, pinch and pick up the skin rapidly, punch and slap entire area. Roll, knead, pound - DISTURB that layer of fat and do it vigorously…Cut down on liquids, especially near meals. Don't drink ANY liquid when eating, nor within 45 minutes of a meal. I don't know WHY but it WORKS…Do stomach suctions all day; while driving, walking, reading, working, in your bath, anywhere, anytime. It will cut waist size, fast!… Avoid starches, sweets, fats! - why add to your problem? A radical idea, but very effective, is to fast for a full day, performing abdominal exercises for 5 minutes, each waking hour during that period…Alternate tensing (as in posing) and relaxing of the abdominals is very helpful. Do hundreds each day for quick definition.
Fully developed abdominals are rare today. Part of the fault lies in the craze for a tiny waist - most bodybuilders fear that muscle will enlarge that dimension. Others feel that the abdomen doesn't add much to the general appearance and just keeping it trim is enough. Of course, there is the usual reason of "not enough time to cover everything and the belly take care of itself" or "it takes too much work to get a washboard, unless you have it naturally". It's enough to make you laugh and yet, all these reasons are so foolish.
In the first place, a really small waist can be greatly improved muscularly without noticeably increasing its size. A waist of 30", with no muscle at all, doesn't look as compact as a 31" waist that is well cut up! The abdomen, like deltoids and calves set off a physique and add the finishing touches that can make it stand out.
People are NOT born with good abdominals. We all have them, but it takes plenty of physical activity to bring them into bold relief, unless you're bony thin. As to the "hard-work" excuses…it's not as hard as leg work, it doesn't take as long as arm work and, once you've laid the foundation, you can maintain fine abdominal cuts with a minimum of effort. I have found that the average weight man feels there are "secret methods" that develop a superb midsection.
Because the average bodybuilder suspects secret methods are responsible for the exceptional abdominals of some star, he is inclined to waste his efforts. Remember, HOW you train the abdomen is much more important than WHAT you use! Very advanced exercises or those that are complicated usually aren't as effective in a practical way as are the simple basic movements. It takes so much effort to do them, you just can't worry about concentration or exact performance. Better results would be gained if you used that energy to carefully and strictly perform the simpler type. In short, forget what someone else SAYS he used to develop his abdomen; pick exercise that is ideal for your particular case.
Another misconception is popular, concerning the use of weight. Straining with extra weight in belly work just isn't necessary. It cuts down the number of reps you can perform, makes the work uncomfortable and the only added benefit it gives is increased strength. I presume you are more interested in the appearance of your torso than in breaking the sit up record!
I have also found sets to be of minor importance in working the waist. If you have time enough to repeat many sets, I suggest you use it to perform a greater variety of exercises. Instead of using lower reps and many sets, increase the number of reps you do. Only rely on sets at the beginning, if you are unable to reach high reps; using them at this time will help you develop an ability to do more reps and will enable you to be getting plenty of work at the same time.
Did you know that how often you work the waist makes a difference in results? It is a big difference, too! For example, five separate sessions of five minutes each is more valuable than a single one of twenty five minutes. Working abdominals three or four times during a workout is better than a single longer period. Daily exercise of the area gives better results than three or four times a week. If you doubt this, I suggest you trying doing abdominal work at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of each workout for awhile. Or, better yet, do some waist work BETWEEN EACH EXERCISE of your regular program. Another habit that increases results is to work the abdomen when the stomach is completely empty, as in the morning, when you first get up.. You'll find the work more enjoyable in that condition, too.
I also suggest you forget the "scientific discoveries" relating to the abdominals. I think you can break down all the essential facts into a few general rules. Sit ups in various forms work most strongly on upper abdominals, while the straight leg raise or jack-knife, gets the lower region. Knee ups or push-outs as some call them, give an internal massage, as well as covering the entire abdominal muscular structure. Muscle control in the form of stomach suction or vacuums, are wonderful for the internal benefits but also will cut the size of the waist, fast! If you perform movements from EACH of these classes, you will be covering the waist area thoroughly. That is of course, if you have sense enough to also do the twists and side-bends that add the finishing touches.
If you're already convinced of the importance of abdominal work, perhaps you're all set to specialize. First step should be to cut down on liquids when eating nor within forty five minutes of your meals. Naturally, you should cut down on the starches, sweets and fats - why add to your problem while you're working on it? While training, try wearing a wide strip of flannel around the waist; cover it with rubber heat belt or an inner tube over it. This builds up great local heat in the area you're trying to reach and helps get rid of the excess flesh. As I mentioned, I favor a wide variety of exercises, using high reps and working from one extreme to the other. Work fast but concentrate! When you can't get any more full reps, keep going with short range "burns", to give deep cuts.
At the end of each workout, a session of abdominal posing will help. Alternate tensing and relaxing of the muscles in different positions will shape and define them. After training, while in the shower, work on abdomen with the hands. Rub briskly and give it a deep massage; pinch and pick up the skin; punch and slap area rapidly. Roll, knead, pound - in short, break down the surface layer of fat over all the muscles. While you're away from the gym, you can keep working on the abs. Stomach suctions can be performed anywhere, anytime. You can do some while you're driving, or walking, reading, working, in your bath, and in your bed. It soon becomes a habit that pays big dividends for the effort.
If you are one of those impatient fellows that like to "blitz" your weak points, how about this approach? You simply fast all day and, during that day, you perform abdominal exercises for at least six minutes of every hour. Sounds wild, but it can often knock a full inch off the waist in a single day!
To summarize - you probably already know enough about abdominals to develop great ones IF you will work and think. Find the program that suits you, dig into it on a long range basis and you cannot fail to be pleased with results. Great abdominals are rare today but their possession sets a man apart from the crowd. You can be that man, if you wish…it's up to you.
Dennis B. Weis is a Ketchikan, Alaska based power-bodybuilder. He is the co-author of 3 critically acclaimed books; Mass! Raw Muscle and Anabolic Muscle Mass. He is also a frequent hard-hitting uncompromising freelance consultant to many of the mainstream bodybuilding magazines published worldwide.
Dennis has a new report at Critical Bench entitled Cinderblock Abs the Australian Way. All of the time-proven secrets for developing superb, sculptured, deeply etched, rippling, cinderblock abs are revealed in this ultimate instruction-packed report.