Knowing how to get killer abs is the key to your health and physical well-being. A small tight abdominal area will make your chest look bigger, your shoulders broader, and your arms thicker. Besides giving you a more impressive physique, good abs are essential for internal health and digestive well-being. If the plumbing gets clogged, you won’t like it.
Think of fat like a human rust factor. The lazier and less fit you become, the more fat your system will deposit around your mid-section. A trim waistline will make you look years younger and more vibrantly alive.
Your Abs Are The Centre of Your Physique.
The abdominal area is really the center of your physique. Most people will focus their attention there before moving upward towards the chest or outward to the arms, shoulders, and lats. A poorly defined set of abs with a spare tire in tow does nothing for your visual appeal, much less your inner well-being.
Women Think You’re Sexy.
If all this doesn’t move you to take an interest in your abs, perhaps this will: women think they’re sexy! In numerous surveys, a small waist with a flat, hard stomach has been among the first things women listed as desirable about a man. So much for 20-inch arms and massive pectorals.
Your abdominal area contains some of the most complex muscles in your body. They comprise not only those showy outer ridges but also the internal, involuntary muscles of your digestive system. More nerve ganglia and arteries come together in the solar plexus area than anywhere else outside the brain. This should be enough to demonstrate the importance your body places on the abdominal region.
Best Exercises For Killer Abs
What sort of exercises should you do to achieve perfect abs? Do sit-ups work? Are leg raises better? Does running help? Let’s look at some old favorites and then some new “angles.”
Do them, particularly if you are just beginning a bodybuilding routine. Use a slant or incline board if available and adjust the board upward to a steeper angle as you require additional resistance. Be sure and keep your knees bent. Never do straight-leg sit-ups. They put undue stress on your spine and don’t do all that much for your stomach muscles anyway.
Start with one set of ten if you aren’t in particularly good shape; otherwise, begin with at least 20-25 reps. Work up to 35 reps and then add a second set of 20. When three sets of 35 is easy, begin using a slant board to increase the difficulty. If you haven’t got a slant board, use a barbell plate behind your head or on your chest. Ten pounds should be enough and never more than 25 pounds.
Tense the abs each rep. Keep working the tension sensation deeper and deeper. Do the reps slowly. Concentrate on each part of the movement. You’re in no hurry; make each rep burn.
2. Leg Raises
Yes. Again with the same stipulations as the sit-up. Leg lifts or raises are best done while laying on a flat bench. Place your buttocks right at the end of the bench and extend your legs in a straight line off the end. Raise the legs with knees slightly bent until the legs are at a right angle with the floor. Lower the legs together but not below the level of the bench. Start with twenty reps and gradually work up to three or four sets of 50.
These are excellent for burning the fat accumulated around the waistline like a spare tire. You may begin with five minute intervals and build up to 20-30 minutes of twisting. You can do them standing or seated.
These three basic movements (sit-ups, leg raises, twists) can do wonders for the average trainee in a few months. However, they aren’t the only ab movements, and many advanced bodybuilders don’t do any of them.
Advanced Movements (after two months of basic)
1. The Crunch Sit-Up
Crunches are a current favorite of many top bodybuilders and can be substituted for regular sit-ups once you’ve reached the intermediate level. Lay on the floor, place your legs over a chair or bench, and roll your shoulders upward as you attempt to sit up. The mid-back should not leave the floor completely, and you shouldn’t really complete the sit-up movement.
The tensing of the abs as you try to come up is all the exercise requires. Do as many as possible but work for a count of 25 reps. Don’t add more repetitions later. Just place more concentration into the reps. Three sets should be plenty.
2. Bench Knee Ups
While sitting on a chair or bench, lean back, pull the knees up into your chest area, and suck in your stomach as far as possible. Hold for a count of two seconds, then trust the legs downward but do not let them touch the floor. Repeat for 2-30 reps a set. This is an excellent lower ab exercise.
3. Double Ups (double crunch)
Lay back on the floor, crossing your ankles over each other, and bend at the same time you roll forward, attempting to touch the elbows and knees. Hold for a count of two, then allow the elbows and knees to separate about six inches before bringing them together again. Tense the abs hard when bringing the elbows and knees together. Perform 3-6 sets of 20 reps.
4. Cable Ab Pulldowns
For this one, you need an overhead cable pully set-up. Kneel facing the apparatus and reach overhead, grasping a towel or rope placed through the normal stirrup handle of the pulley. Using the arms as little as possible, bend forward at the waist and go all the way to the floor. Your head should touch the floor at the completion of this movement. This is a great exercise for the upper abs, the serratus, and intercostal muscles.
5. Stomach Vacuums
These can be done any time of the day, but early morning before breakfast has always been my favorite. Bend over, placing your hands just above your knees. Expel all air from your lungs. Now concentrate and pull in the internal portions of your body to produce a vacuum. Hold for a second or two and release, breath in. Do five to six sets of vacuums whenever you can think about it. This will help you shrink an enlarged gut down to size fast!
Jogging. Running or jogging is great for cardiovascular health. It certainly burns fat like nobody’s business. However, be warned that excessive running can cause joint and foot injuries, low back pain, and other problems. Be sure to wear appropriate running shoes to absorb the shock and be very careful about running if you’re over 200lb and on the obese side, as the weight/shock factor on each leg is enormous. Better to walk fast and burn off the calories than to run the risk of injuries that could halt all your training for many months.
Fasting. Try and talk to some people that have tried a fast. Before attempting a prolonged fast (more than 24 hours), be sure of your current health status, and read as much as possible about the techniques and results. Health food stores usually stock some recent paperbacks on fasting.
A short one-day fast will probably be okay for most people, but longer ones can really throw your system into shock. Besides, fasting has only a slight effect on fat reduction. A two or three-pound loss over a day is not uncommon, but the main advantage of fasting comes as an aid in self-discipline and self-awareness.
Be sure to drink plenty of water or fruit juices and cleanse your system. Try a short 24-hour fast if food hasn’t been tasting good to you lately. Sometimes the body just needs to rest from the daily grind of eating and digestion. Some bodybuilders fast each week as an aid to weight control. They claim it increases their strength.
Diet. This is the most important element in bodybuilding. Since you are what you eat, you’d be well advised to carefully examine your weekly menu. If you are overweight, this is the first place to begin losing that fat. Fat is essentially stored energy. To decrease the fat content of your body, you need to perform exercise that will cause the greatest cardio-vascular need. The more you huff and puff, the quicker you will rid yourself of the ‘blubber’ around your middle.
Heat Belts. These have been advised widely over the years. I know many wear these for months without losing an inch off their waistline, while others have great results. However, they do induce heavy sweating, and I suppose if you wear one often enough, you can lose several pounds of water weight. Just don’t expect overnight miracles.
Marathon abdominal workouts where someone does 5,000 sit-ups or 10,000 leg raises for three hours straight are a thing of the past. Many top bodybuilders now advocate minimum sets and reps for the best results. Do the repetitions slowly and concentrate on the tension created to etch those washboard abs for you.
References and Excerpts
Article: New AB Angles. Author George Puckett. Muscle Training Illustrated Magazine