In this week’s tip, I’m going to show you how to build a dynamic, defined mid-section that you’ll be proud to show off. A slim, trim mid- section with deeply etched abdominals is the focal point of any finished physique.
Developing a great mid-section is a function of two factors:
a) Building the abdominal muscles up
b) Stripping away body fat so that the abdominal muscles are visible and prominent.
In last week’s tip, we discussed some of the things that you can do to keep body fat at bay during the holiday season. Also, over the last several weeks, I have covered things that you can do in your diet to maintain that lean hard look. So this week, we’re going to focus on exercises that develop the abdominals.
Don’t worry, however, if you’ve missed some of the last few weeks’ tips on dieting and nutrition. In the very near future, I’m going to be covering some exciting new material showing you how you can stay lean year ’round.
Developing a great mid-section is not difficult, but it requires discipline. The routine that I’m going to show you doesn’t take long to perform, but does require focus, concentration and near-perfect form.
I want you to perform this abdominal routine three times per week, and give it at least one month before assessing it. Then, I would like you to e-mail me to let me know how it worked for you. Fair enough? Let’s go!
I never train my abdominals more than three times per week because like any other muscle group, the abdominals can become easily over-trained, bringing progress to a halt.
My quick and easy abdominal routine consists of only two exercises: abdominal crunches and hanging leg raises.
Now, before you lose interest, I am going to be revealing some interesting things, about these very simple and common exercises, that you may not already know, so stick around. First, some general notes:
1-Perform as many repetitions as you can on each set, bringing the abdominal muscles to failure on each set. Failure is the point at which you cannot perform any more repetitions.
2-Take approximately one minute of rest between sets.
3-Maintain constant tension on the abdominal muscles through- out the range of motion.
4-Maintain perfect form on both exercises and do not cheat or swing.
5-Let’s look at the abdominal’s range of motion. If you lie perfectly flat on the floor and then, by contracting your abdominals, raise your shoulders as high as possible off the floor, the maximum level to which you’ll be able to bring your shoulders up is that of a 30º angle off the floor. Any more bending beyond this point will require the assistance of other muscles, including the powerful hip flexor muscles, which is undesirable. As you can see, the abdominals’ range of motion is rather limited.
The function of the abdominals is to pull the rib cage and pubic bone together. In an exercise such as the ab crunch, it is the function of the abdominal muscles to roll the sternum (or chest bone) towards the pelvic area, much as you would roll up a carpet.
Keep this motion in mind as you perform your crunching exercises, and all abdominal exercises in general. You must roll the abdominals together , avoiding hinging at the hips.
Traditional sit-ups are useless. When your legs are kept straight, the more powerful hip flexors( psoas) muscles are in a position of advantage where they over power the weaker ab muscles. Contraction of these powerful hip flexor muscles cause the body to hinge at the hips. That is why when someone is doing sit-ups, it appears that they are hinging at their hips. On the other hand, properly executed abdominal exercises such as the crunch cause the body to hinge in the middle and lower spine as the abdominals curl. Just remember, it’s like rolling up a carpet.
O.K. Now, let’s talk about the exercises themselves.
We will begin with the Crunch. To perform the crunch, lie flat on the ground and place your legs over a bench or a chair so that your knees are bent at a 90† angle. When you are in the proper starting position, you should look as if you are “sitting down” except that your back is flat against the floor and your calves are making contact with the surface of the seat or bench cushion.
Place your hands behind your neck (be sure not to pull your neck during this exercise, otherwise it could result in severe injury). As you exhale, contract your abdominals, rolling your sternum (breast bone) towards your pelvic area much as you would roll up a carpet. Again, it’s important to keep this rolling motion in mind. Hold the contraction for a moment and then slowly lower.
Your shoulders should not come up off the ground more than six inches or so. Perform as many repetitions as you can, stopping only when a deep burning sensation occurs in the abdominals and it is impossible to perform any more repetitions. Perform 3-4 sets of crunches, doing as many repetitions as you can.
Hanging Leg Raises: As the name implies, hang from a chinning bar with your hands approximately shoulder width apart. Raise your legs (with knees bent) quickly, making sure that your pelvis rocks forward at the beginning of each repetition and that you hinge at the lower spine, not at the hips. During the hanging leg raise, you are attempting once again to roll your abdominals together into a crunch position, not swivel at the hips.
This time, you are rolling your pelvis towards your sternum which is the mirror opposite of the crunch exercise. Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position. It is important that you do not let your lower back arch as you do this. Your pelvis should remain tucked slightly forward. The biggest benefit of the hanging leg raise exercise will come during the lowering of the legs, so lower slowly. Perform 3-4 sets of as many repetitions as you can do again, performing each set to failure.
So there you have it. This is a clean, short abdominal routine that is guaranteed to burn your abdominals out quickly and give you great results. The entire routine should not take you more than 10-15 minutes, three times per week. Combine this routine with a low-fat, high-protein diet, and you’ll have the tools you need to develop that sharp mid- section you’ve always wanted.
And by the way, be sure to check out the sample diets and workouts below if you are in need of a nutrition and training program.
For sample diets => http://www.labrada.com/yourgoals
For weekly workouts => http://www.labrada.com/forum/muscle-building-workouts/
Yours for a Lean Body,
Your Lean Body Coach™