The abdominals are possibly one of the most talked-about body parts during bodybuilding workouts. Why? Our attention is naturally drawn to them. They are the focal point of the upper body. Getting that coveted six pack is not always easy due to a variety of reasons, such as genetics for one. The fact is that some people have a harder time getting a six pack than others. However, everyone can definitely get a tight and toned core! Some people just might have to work a bit harder.
Abdominal contraptions seem to be the biggest seller of all the workout equipment. You’ve seen them; space-age-looking springs that you push with your gut, or a rolling device that is supposed to help make your sits easier. However, these machines are really not needed to develop tighter abdominal muscles. The only thing that is going to reduce your waistline is honest, hard work. Those machines just simplify your workout and make your effort less effective.
A lot of false information about abdominal workouts floats around in bodybuilding circles. In fact, misinformation is probably one of the main factors as to why many people cannot develop six pack abs. One of the biggest fallacies is that doing only exercises, like crunches, are the key. Such exercises are necessary to increase the size of the muscles however, if they are hidden by layers of fat, they will never be seen! Hence, factors like cardio, a good bodybuilding diet, and bodybuilding supplements are also vital in order to burn fat! The truth is that all of the factors stated work together to reveal your abs.
Workouts and Exercises
In terms of abdominal bodybuilding workouts, it is important to make sure that each of the main parts is targeted. The main parts include the obliques, upper abs, and lower abs. Here are some of the recommended exercises and how to do them.
Crunches: works the overall ab area. Lay on the floor with your knees up. Cross your arms over your body and slowly crunch your body up.
Side Crunches: works your side oblique muscles. Start out as you would a crunch, but instead of going straight up, twist your right arm towards your left knee and vice versa.
Seated Crunches: works your lower abs. Sit on a bench, close to the edge. Support yourself with your hands. Tilt back a bit and extend your legs out with a slight bend and slowly pull legs to chest.
As for cardio, try activities such as jogging, bicycling, or swimming. Aim to train your abs at least three to four days a week. As with any exercises, be sure to tailor the amount of reps, sets, and other variables to your level of experience. If you are just starting out, gradually work your way to an advanced level, but do not overdo it. Adequate rest is equally important too.
Here’s one of my other exercise secrets: I have better abs than most in their 20′s. I am an ex-marine, and when in the service over 30 years ago, I was surprised at how many large-bellied older marines could do lots of sit-ups, but – well it was obvious those sit-ups weren’t doing them much good. We were often required to aim to complete 80 bent-knee sit-ups in two minutes. I always met that requirement, but my abs never were noticeable at all either. Fast forward to 2010. Let’s take a look at another effective ab workout.
Here is what has worked wonders for me: lie flat on a bench that has either vertical support bars or better yet, has metal support poles that hold spare weight plates. Reach back and grab a support pole with each hand – or a vertical bar (used to hold the barbell if one were doing bench presses) – and perform straight-legged leg lifts, bringing your feet over your head. Do them continuously, going down just far enough to lightly bounce your heels off the floor. The reason for grabbing the poles or bars is that it takes all the stress off your back & forces your abs to do all the work.
I have found that when most men attempt these at first, they can only do 25-30 or so like my sons that do train and are in their early 20′s. Anyway, I increased my lifts by 3-5 more reps a day, as much as I could – but do not rest during the exercise, just do as many as you can (but don’t try too hard).
Also, try out fat-blasting high intensity workouts that train the entire body while simultaneously training the abdominals hard. Such workouts stimulate your metabolism to a much higher degree than just using typical ab exercises. An example of one of my favorite abdominal workouts that does not include any direct “abdominal exercises” at all is listed below. It’s in a tri-set format (similar to a super-set but alternating between 3 exercises, similar to a mini-circuit).
Here it is:
1a. Mountain Climbers on Floor
1b. Front Squats with Barbell
1c. Renegade Dumbbell Rows
A good repetition scheme to use with this could be 3-4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise, or more sets for less repetitions, such as 5 sets of 5 reps of each exercise. Mountain climbers can be done for a time interval (such as 20-30 seconds) instead of for reps.
Mountain climbers are done by starting in a pushup position and then shuffling your feet in and out so that your knees are moving in under your chest and then back out to starting position. It sort of resembles climbing a mountain but flat on the floor. If you want an advanced version, you can also shuffle your hands 8-10 inches forward and backward in addition to the leg movements. This really makes it a full body exercise and MUCH more difficult than standard mountain climbers.
Front squats are performed similar to back squats, however using the barbell in front of your body on the front of your shoulders instead of resting on the upper back as in back squats. You stabilize the barbell on your shoulders by crossing your arms and pushing your fists into the bar against your shoulders while keeping your elbows out in front of the body. This takes a little practice at first, so you will want to seek a professional trainer at your gym to help you with the form. Front squats require extreme stabilization strength from the abs due to the barbell weight being shifted to the front of the body instead of the back. Even though this is mostly a leg exercise, you’ll feel this one in the abdominals big time!
Renegade dumbbell rows are performed starting in a pushup position with the hands on two dumbbells. You then row 1 dumbbell up while stabilizing your body with the other arm. Bring the dumbbell back to the ground and alternate the rowing arm while stabilizing with the opposite arm. This stabilizing effect during these types of rows creates incredible work for your entire midsection core area. Trust me… you’ll feel it in the abdominals!
After finishing each exercise, rest about 30 seconds before starting the next exercise in the sequence. Rest about 1-2 minutes after completing each “tri-set” before repeating the sequence. This will give you one of the best abdominal workouts you’ve ever had without even doing any direct abdominal exercises. You’ll see what I mean after you try it!
Diet and Nutrition
Unlike bodybuilding workouts for the abdominals, eating a healthy diet is something that needs to be done pretty much daily. Each food consumed should not contain a high amount of things like unhealthy fat or sugar. A high amount of protein on the other hand is a good thing and should be consumed. Foods containing high protein levels are turkey, chicken, and fish.
Benefits of a High Protein Diet
The last important factor is using bodybuilding supplements. There are two types of supplements that should be used for a ripped six pack. The first type is one that enhances the growth of the abdominal muscles. The second kind is one that speeds up the fat loss process. Note that it is important to make sure that you are taking the supplements as directed to get the most out of them!
Within 2 months of doing all of the factors mentioned above, my abs were unmistakable. I soon observed several people checking out my abs in the locker room (but pretended not to notice – it was great!) The bottom line is that it’s possible for anyone to get ripped abs. The secret is to exercise properly, eat nutritiously, and take bodybuilding supplements. Keep in mind that dedication, patience, and consistency are also vital because results are not going to happen in just one day!
What is the most effective abdominal exercise you’ve ever used?