Guides, tips, articles and more, to get the abs you've always wanted.
Targets: Abdominals and shoulders
Targets: abdominals and shoulders
Tanya Etessam interview: www.cutandjacked.com/CutAndJacked-Interview-Tanya-Etessam
For more of Tanya Etessam visit: www.tanyaetessam.com
I like to use the stability ball for variations, I always find new ways to keep challenging my abdominals.
I also use lots of cable exercises, hanging exercises, floor exercises, bench, etc...
Rep range varies a lot, sometimes 10,12,15 reps sometimes 25 to 50 reps.
I can do a circuit of exercises with 3 to 4 different variations, 10 reps of each from 4 to 8 sets! Depends on how I feel. My goal during training is the quality of the movement followed with the mental connection between the muscle that is working. I am a big believer in quality rather than quantity.
An example workout is as follows:
Abs! They are muscles of universal appeal. Not only do they complete one’s physique but everyone can appreciate a great set of abdominals. Whereas freaky quads and a massive back only impress a handful of people, abdominals span into pop culture. Consider Mike “The Situation.”
While annoying to many of us, his physique has drawn attention to himself and helped make him a celebrity; and all of this he owes to his pride and joy, his abdominals.
Since the abs are arguably the most “popular” muscle group in pop culture, there comes with that fame a host of misconceptions. The most popular misconception is that you can get great abs by “doing thousands of crunches to burn fat off the stomach.” We have seen enough infomercials out there that all continue to promote these misconceptions. If these solutions were viable then we wouldn’t need to write articles on proper abdominal training and how to make them visible! The most important thing to remember is that something worth having (like great abs) is going require a lot of hard work and persistence to get it! No amount of gadgetry, gimmicks, or fad diets will get you what you are looking for until you come to grips with this fact. It may also take a considerable amount of time. It took me eight years of bodybuilding before I could say that I was truly proud of my abdominal development (though I am still not satisfied)! Ditch the infomercials get your nose (or stomach rather) to the grindstone!
There are two aspects to developing a great midsection. The first (and probably most important factor) is to be lean enough to have these muscles become visible. The second is that to maximize the appearance of your midsection, there must be significant muscular development there. It was not until I fully understood these two factors that I was able bring out my abdominals and it became something that added value to my physique onstage. The picture on your left is me in 2007. While I didn’t admit that I was not lean enough (it took weeks afterwards, I was very disappointed), you can see that I struggled to pose hard enough to show my abs and they were still not that impressive. On the right was me in 2010. This time I was much leaner (although I had added muscle over the three years, I was still six pounds lighter)! I had also applied the type of training I will discuss in this article. The training increased my abdominal development without making me look blocky and on the day of the contest I was able to hold my cell phone up between my abs while lying down. While my midsection was the best it had ever looked, you can see that I had lost a lot of fat in the process and rather quickly as you can tell from the loose skin on my lower abdominals. I have stayed leaner this past off-season and hope to have my skin tighten up so that my midsection will be even better next time!
It is best to have a sound understanding of the anatomy and kinesiology of the abdominal muscles when developing a training program for this muscle group.
The most prominent abdominal muscle is the rectus abdominis (that gives the appearance of the “six-pack”), which is responsible for flexing the trunk and pulling the hips into posterior pelvic tilt. Many abs training articles discuss how the rectus flexes the trunk but fail to mention that tilts the pelvis posterior. The importance of this will be discussed when reviewing exercise technique.
The oblique muscles are involved in lateral flexion (bending to one side) as well as rotation of the trunk. Below these superficial muscles we have the transverse abdominis which is involved in core stabilization. All of these muscles need to be developed to have a functionally strong, stable core and outstanding abdominal muscularity.
This debate has dragged on forever. I can tell you from experience that if you are not at least incorporating some weighted abs work into your routine you are missing out on complete development. The abdominals are muscles just the like the rest of your muscles on your body. You need to train them to hypertrophy. Yes, you must be lean to display visible abs; but they will not look nearly as impressive unless they are developed.
Train your basic moves! The compound exercises that require you to stabilize your core, such as deadlifts and squats, recruit your abdominal muscles and will stimulate them even more than adding weight to your crunches. Remember that one function of the rectus abdominis is to pull the hips into posterior pelvic tilt, which is also a function of the gluteal muscles. The transverse abdominis tightens the entire core to minimize spinal movement during these exercises, and thus is worked also. The abdominals work together with the hip extensors to complete the movement and keep the spine stable during these exercises.
The abdominals are a small muscle group and recover more quickly than the larger muscles; so likewise you will receive the best development from training them at least twice per week. More is not always better, but you can train them up to three times per week. More often than this may not offer any significant benefit, so stick to 2-3 abdominal workouts per week.
I recommend breaking up your abdominal workouts into middle/upper abs, lower abs, and serratus/obliques/intercostals; one exercise for each. Remember the transverse muscle is worked during your squat and deadlift variations. The following exercises are all variations for different skill levels. You can start with the easier forms of these exercises and progress to more difficult forms. I recommend one to three sets of 10 to 30 repetitions for all exercises. Obviously the lower rep ranges are recommended for when you choose to add weight and the higher rep ranges are without weight.
There are, of course, many other variations of these exercises; these are just something to start with. I also recommend training your abs in this order as well, starting with lower abs, then middle/upper, and ending with the obliques. This is just a matter of prioritization as the lower abs tend to hide behind the last bit of body fat and is most difficult to develop. Likewise, you do not want to over-develop your obliques as it could make your waist look blocky.
Training the abdominals demands mental focus. You will be using higher repetitions and the tendency for many is to focus on meeting that goal of getting all the repetitions, rather than fully taxing the muscles. Do not adopt this practice or you will short-change yourself in terms of development. Flex your spine, lift your hips off the floor, and focus on the feeling of your muscles contracting. Some (myself included) prefer to place one or both hands on their stomach to feel the abs contract during the set. Focusing on your technique will double the effectiveness of the routine listed above.
Some may dismiss this entire article because there are a few top athletes out there who claim that they do not train their abs. I have news for you, you are not them! If you choose not to train abs, it is possible to have visible abs as long as you are lean, but they will not make the same impression will not be as outstanding as they could be if you had trained them, especially if you are a competitor.
I used all the principles in this article for my abs training last year when I competed and the result was an abs-and-thigh pose that I could finally be proud of! Here is an example of my routine leading up to my last competition:
1) Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions
2) Decline Crunch: 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions
3) Cable Crunch with Rope: 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions
This workout was done three times per week either before or after my other bodypart training.
By Jon Habeshy, BS, PTA
One of the most sought-after bodyparts by trainers everywhere is abdominals. It seems everybody wants them, but few have them. Many toil away in the gym with sit-up after sit-up and crunch after crunch only to face sore abs and a declining motivation. Others don’t worry at all about their abs and neglect training them all together. They are many times seen as an after thought, tacked onto the end of a session only to be undertrained with little or no focus.
The abdominal area or midsection comprises of some significant functioning muscles. Not only does the midsection provide core stability and balance, it also helps in other lifts by redirecting pressure and stabilizing the entire trunk. By having the abs strong, the body can put more focus and energy toward a squat for example and hold in the pressure generated much like a weight belt. Next time you are bench pressing flex your abs slightly and keep them tight throughout the lift – you will be surprised at the help you receive from your abs during both portions of the movement.
So not only are the abs a significant factor in actual functioning in regard to other movements in your routines, but they are also play a major role in the game of bodybuilding. A competitive bodybuilder must posses a great set of abs in order to place well. Aesthetically speaking, the mind draws instantly to the abdominal region as they should present a balanced and proportionate physique. A ripped midsection also signifies that the athlete is in superior conditioning and helps to display the coveted V-taper.
Along with a sound eating plan and a comprehensive training regimen sculpted, ripped-up abs can become a reality. This article will focus on the actual training regimen, creating an impressive midsection takes a very extensive and bodybuilding-friendly eating component as well. One cannot do countless sit-ups and leg lifts everyday and expect dramatic results. No other bodypart requires such discipline to develop, but once they are uncovered and for all to see they are a sight to behold.
The muscles of the abdominals comprise of several areas that flex, extend, twist and stabilize the trunk area. They sit on the front sides of the lower torso originating along the ribcage and attaching along the pelvis. Let’s look at each muscle and its function.
Rectus Abdominus: This is the coveted “six-pack” muscle – although it has more than six heads. This muscle flexes the spine and brings the ribcage and pelvis closer together.
Transverse Abdominus: This muscle is a deep muscle of the core which lies beneath the other muscles that is essential for trunk stability.
Internal and External Obliques: These are diagonal muscles that work to rotate the torso and stabilize the abdomen.
Now that you know a little about anatomy and function, let’s delve into what makes outstanding abdominals. The movements and routines presented are designed to get the most out of each trip to the gym. Remember to always use good form and not to use too much weight to compromise your safety. Remember when performing any abdominal movement be sure to execute each motion (concentric and eccentric) with steadfast control to avoid ballistic-style reps.
Crunches and Sit-ups: The basic crunch is performed while lying on the floor with your feet flat on the ground, arms either crossed in front of you or hands behind your head and crunching your upper body toward your knees. Your lower back should not come off of the ground, just your upper torso. Crunch your abs and exhale as you come up. Squeeze for a second and then return without taking tension off of the midsection.
For sit-ups assume the same starting position then curl up your entire upper body into your knees. Uncurl and return to the starting position. Try no to use your lower back, instead let your abs curl you up.
Quick hit: There are many forms of the crunch to choose from such as performing them on a flex-ball, feet supported on a bench, and weighted by holding a small weight plate on your chest. Another way to try weighted crunches is to lie on the floor with your head toward a rope attachment on a low pulley and pull the weight up while up crunch. Make sure to hold the ends of the rope on either side of your head when crunching.
A great way to make the sit-up more difficult is to perform them on a decline bench and hold a weight plate on your chest with crossed arms. This would be a bit of a challenge, so try it with a weight you can handle first.
Leg Raises: The leg raise is performed while lying face up on the ground with your hands slightly out to your sides palms down on the floor for support. With your feet together, lift your legs with a slight bend in the knees until they are just short of perpendicular to the floor. Lower to the starting position without letting your heels touch the floor and repeat.
Quick hit: For a more of a challenge leg raises can be performed on a decline bench. This will require you to raise your legs over a wider range of motion for a more difficult and effective contraction. Hanging leg raises or knee raises are two more alternatives to really hammer the lower abs. While hanging from a chinning bar raise up your legs as in the lying raises and stop when your legs are at parallel with the floor and return. For knee raises bring your knees into you abdominal region until they are past parallel and squeeze. Lower and return as with leg raises.
Side Crunches: Lay down on the floor on your side with both hands behind your head - use a foot support if necessary to stabilize your lower body. Crunch up on your side while your hip remains in contact with the floor. Squeeze at the top for a second and then return to the starting position and avoid resting your upper body. Switch sides and repeat.
Quick hit: Side crunches can also be performed on a Roman chair. Simply position yourself with your feet and hip contacting the bench while your upper body is suspended. Perform the movement as above. This version will have those obliques screaming!
Bicycles: As one of the most effective ab exercises out there (especially for the obliques) the bicycle is not only challenging, but when done correctly, can grant you great overall ab development. Lie on the ground with your hands behind your head and your feet slightly off of the ground. Start alternating your elbows to knees. Twist your torso so that your left elbow reaches your right knee and then vice versa. Keep alternating while keeping your shoulders off of the floor. Squeeze the obliques with every contraction.
Quick hit: You can make this movement a bit more challenging and isolate one set of obliques at a time by focusing on one side and then switching over to the other. Just perform all reps for one side then switch and do the allotted number of reps for the other.
Russian Twists: This movement is not for the weak at heart. Seat yourself on a Roman chair or a decline sit-up bench where your upper body is suspended. Hold a weight plate or medicine ball out in front of you with your arms straight. You will begin to twist only your upper torso to one side as far as you can comfortably go then twist to the other. Keep twisting – but keep the movement somewhat at a slow pace. You do not want to jerk the weight around and injure your lumbar in any way.
Quick hit: For those that find it difficult utilizing a weight plate or medicine ball with this movement simply clasp your hands in front of you and perform the exercise as usual. This will build up your strength so you may graduate up to using weight in the future.
Windshield Wipers: To really get to those obliques – especially the lower portion, try windshield wipers. Lie on the ground with your arms out to your sides perpendicular to your torso. Bring your feet together and raise your legs straight up. Now, keeping your legs at 90 degrees to your upper body twist them to the side until they almost touch the floor. Raise them up and twist to the other side slowly. Again, jerking your legs will only make you more susceptible to injury be sure to use good form at a steady pace.
Quick hit: Once you have the basic windshield wiper movement down pat it is time to up the ante. Perform the movement as described above, but now place a small weighted medicine ball between your feet. It is a tough addition, but one that will pay off.
Plank: Utilized as a standard for core strength and development, the plank is not a movement at all. It is a stability exercise used mainly to build the transverse abdominus. Simply assume a standard push-up position except hold yourself up by your elbows instead of your hands. Keep your stomach tight and drawn in slightly to activate your core muscles. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and then rest – this will be counted as one set.
Quick hit: Once you reach a level of several sets of 30 seconds with the plank it is time for a new level. Have a partner place a weight plate (one that is at first light enough to handle) on your upper back to add resistance to the position. This new challenge will add even more strength and stability to your physique.
Side Plank: Much like the plank, the side plank works the core but on either side for lateral stability. With your body straight lie on your side while holding yourself up by you elbow and your feet together. You can place your other arm either straight down your other side or on your waste. Again, hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat for the other side.
Quick hit: To give you a bit more of a challenge, try switching from a side plank to a normal plank over to another side plank slowly. Be sure to keep the body aligned and perform the movement in a steady, fluid motion.
Dragon Flag: As one of the more difficult movements to master, the dragon flag is the ultimate display in midsection strength! We’ve all watched Rocky do this one. While lying on a flat bench, grasp the sides of the bench by your head or the end above your head. Begin the motion by lifting your body up with only your upper back contacting the bench. While doing your best to keep your body in-line, lift until you are just short of perpendicular to the floor. This is a difficult movement to execute so go slow and try it with short lifts in the beginning if you do not possess the strength at first.
Quick hit: For the ultimate challenge try performing the dragon flag on a decline bench. This will take incredible strength and balance, but once mastered, you know you will have one outstanding set of abs!
Floor crunches 2 x 10-20
Flat bench leg raises 2 x 10-12
Side crunches 2 x 10-12
Planks 2 x 20 seconds each
Hanging leg raises 2 x 20
Crunches on the flex ball 2 x 20
Side crunches on a Roman chair 2 x 20
Plank with weight 2 x 20 seconds each
Low pulley, decline crunches 3 x 20
Bicycles 3 x 20 each side
Decline bench leg raises 3 x 20
Windshield wipers 3 x 10 each side
Plank/side plank combination 3 x 30 second each position
Superset: Decline crunches 3 x 20/hanging leg raises 3 x 20
Superset: Russian twists 3 x 10 each side/dragon flag 3 x 5 lifts
Superset: Decline sit-ups 3 x 20/weighted planks 3 x 30 seconds
Superset: Windshield wipers 3 x 10 each side/floor crunches 3 x 20
Written by: Brad Borland, M.A., CSCS: WorkoutLab.net
Let’s face it, everyone wants six-pack abs. It may not be your number one training priority, but admit it… if you could clap your hands and suddenly have a lean, solid, chiseled midsection, I’m sure I’d be hearing a lot of applause! I don’t blame you; developing a strong, muscular core can certainly enhance your appearance and sex appeal, improve athletic performance, reduce back pain, and help your posture. Unfortunately, so many people don’t have a clue about the best ways to get those rock hard abs, and end up wasting time doing some useless exercises or wasting money on one of those infomercial “ab-blaster” gimmicks.
Let’s look at a better way to get your gut in shape. What we really need is an efficient training plan using more effective exercises. In conjunction with a solid nutrition plan (which I have discussed in a previous article), these exercises will help you sculpt some enviable abdominals!
1. Power wheel rollouts
2. Power wheel knee tucks
3. Hanging knee raises
4. Resist the Twist
With these 5 basic movements you are targeting all the main core muscles.
The Power Wheel is endorsed by many other leading strength coaches and trainers and it’s now one of my favorite tools for training the core. It was also rated as the “Best Core Trainer in the World” by an independent study at the University of California, Berkeley. Check out the study here: http://top-form-fitness.com/pwrwheelstudy.pdf. If you’re sick of all of the “ab” gimmicks on the market, this simple piece of equipment is the real deal.
Rollouts can also be performed with a basic “ab-wheel” that you can pick up at Walmart or almost any fitness shop. The rollouts are performed with your knees on the ground and your hands holding the handles on each side of the wheel. Begin with a flat back and the wheel below your shoulders. Before you start to roll out, straighten your hips and contract your abs to keep your back flat and your hips tucked in. Keep your core tight throughout the movement.
Extend fully then pull yourself back to the start position keeping your arms straight during the entire exercise. You will feel tension in your torso, arms and lats. As you become stronger you can extend your range until you can touch your chest to the ground.
This is another great Power Wheel exercise that involves resisting extension through your torso, except this time you place your feet in the foot pedals. Once your feet are secured in the Power Wheel foot attachments, hold yourself in a pushup position with your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and your legs extended straight out. Don’t allow your back to cave in during this movement.
Now roll the wheel in by bending at the hips while lifting your butt upwards. Keep your legs straight and your abs contracted during the movement. Once you have rolled in as far as you can, extend your legs back out again and repeat. This exercise can also be performed with bent knees, as a knee tuck variation.
The hanging knee raise is a classic exercise that many people do incorrectly, but when done right it is safe and effective. You can hold onto a chinup bar or use those elbow “ab” straps that wrap around your arms and hook onto the overhead bar. Many gyms also have something called a Roman Chair, where you can rest your upper body on elbow pads and a back support pad. As long as your legs are hanging below you it will work.
Next, contract your abdominals and lift both knees up toward your chest and flex a little at the waist. Your knees should be bent on the way up, and then extend on the way down. Perform this exercise with slow control, keeping your abs tight and your back flat.
To get a truly powerful, toned core, you need to work on your rotational muscles as well. This is a variation of another great core exercise called the Pallof Press, or Torque Press. I call it Resist the Twist … it’s just simpler.
Stand facing perpendicular to a cable machine holding the handle of the cable (or use resistance bands) with both hands in front of your chest. Start with both arms bent, holding the handle close to your chest. Then extend both arms straight out in front of you and brace your core against the rotational pull of the cable. Hold this position for about 5 seconds without moving and keep your core tight, your arms straight, and your back straight. Then bring the hands in toward your chest again to rest, and repeat.
Maybe you didn’t think of the deadlift as a core exercise, but it sure is an awesome compound movement that requires bracing of your abs and really works your posterior chain (the other half of your core). The deadlift works almost every muscle in your body, especially your lower body, back, and core. The remaining muscles are involved in stability control. I believe the deadlift should be included in most training programs in some form.
Of course, technique is very important with the deadlift. Start by standing with the bar in front of you, so that it is over top of your feet. Use a slightly narrower than shoulder width stance with your feet facing forwards. Lean forward to grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your knees bent and your back flat. Stick out your butt and chest. Lift the bar to a standing position using your legs and back muscles, keeping your arms straight and back flat. The bar stays close to the body during the lift. At the top, contract your hips and open up your chest to complete the lift. Lower the bar with control.
Those are my 5 Killer Core Exercises. As part of complete training and nutrition plan, these exercises will help you achieve a stronger, leaner, solid-looking waistline. If your goal is to get cut and jacked, I suggest you incorporate these exercises into a circuit training routine, but they can also be performed separately as a core workout on their own.
I chose these exercises based on research, biomechanics, as well as my own personal experience. They were not picked at random because they looked cool in a fitness magazine. But the best proof is to try them out yourself. The nice thing about building powerful core muscles is that it will also increase your gains in every other area of your workouts, because your core supports movement in every other part of your body.
Written by CutAndJacked.com specialist writer: Josh Hewett,
Websites: StrongerAndLeaner.com, top-form-fitness.com
photocredits: Charles Lowthian
Getting ripped six pack abs is the result of proper nutrition, effective training and living a lifestyle that places your fitness as a priority. I will focus on ab training for the purpose of this article.
Your abdominals or abs are stabilizing muscle that stretch over your midsection. Their main purpose is to work with your lower back to stabilize your upper body. Without you abs you would not be able to prevent yourself from falling backwards, or get up for that matter.
The Rectus Abdominis (extends from the top of the pelvis to the sternum and is composed of upper and lower abdominals)
To get ripped six pack abs focus on what will give you the most bang for your buck. Focus on your Rectus Abdominis with some oblique training. The Intercostal Muscles and Serratus Anterior will be worked during regular weight lifting sessions.
I am a very simple, straight to the point kind of guy. I hate it when someone bores me with details that I’m really not interested in and this mentality transfers to my training style. Do not over complicate your ab training. They are a muscle just like other muscle and do not need special treatment to pop out. You just have to diet consistently enough to see the fruits of your labor.
You do NOT have to train abs every day.
You do NOT have to do 100 of sit ups.
You do NOT have to train abs for hours at a time.
I train abs 2-3 times a week. I may take a day off just to train abs and do some cardio or I may train them after legs. I generally try to hit my upper and lower abs, as well as the oblique’s with each ab workout. I will try to stimulate the muscle by focusing on fully contracting the muscle with every rep. I also add resistance and slow down the movement to increase abdominal stimulation. I do not swing or rapidly pump out reps.
A great exercise that targets the lower abs is the leg raises. You can do them using back support or hanging. If you keep you legs straight you will get more resistance with this exercise. To start let your legs hang down and then raise your legs up until your abs are fully contracted. Slowly lower your legs back down and repeat until you have done 4 sets of 20. If twenty reps feels too easy, slow down the movement and hold each rep when your abs a fully contracted for a second before letting your legs back down.
Another great exercise for upper abdominals is the crunch. You can do them on a ball or on the floor. You can have your feet on the floor or have them in the air. Arch your back when you start so your abs are fully relaxed and stretched. Then crunch your abs as tight at you can without using your hips to lift your upper body off the ground. When you lift your upper body off the ground you take the focus off the abs and place them on your hip flexors. Focus on your abs. Again do 4 sets of 20 and slow down the movements if this seems too easy.
For the oblique’s I love to do oblique crunches or side crunches. Lay on your side with your knees bent and your feet slightly elevated off the ground. You can twist you upper body so that you’re facing the ceiling or you may remain facing the wall. Contract the oblique’s which will raise your upper body. Again, remember to slow down the movement to put more emphasis on the oblique’s. Repeat for the other side until you have complete 4 sets of 20 on each side.
These three exercises will help build the foundation for your six pack abs but you can alter the workouts at times. I will often substitute one or more of the following exercises into my ab routine.
Try replacing the leg raises for V – Ups. The V-up is preformed my balancing your body on your butt while you crunch. Sit on the floor with your legs out and try to make your knees touch your chest. This should fully contract your abs. Then relax while keeping your legs and upper body elevated and contract again. Repeat for 4 sets of 20 and slow down the movement when necessary.
You may also do cable crunches instead of regular crunches. Simply kneel in front of a cable machine with the set above you, grab the handle or rope and pull your elbows into your knees. This should contract your abdominal muscles. Feel free to add weight and slow down the movement to increase the emphasis on your abs.
Instead of doing oblique or side crunches, try doing alternate heel touches. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted about shoulder width apart. Alternate between touching your right heel with your right hand and your left heel with you left hand by bending sideways. Repeat until you have done 4 sets of 20. Do 20 reps on each side to complete a set.
Working out your abs will not get you six pack abs if you do not eat properly.
The factors that will determine how ripped your six pack will be:
Remember to eat clean, lift weights regularly, incorporate up to two 45 minute high intensity interval training cardio sessions 3-5 days a week, take quality supplements, and live a lifestyle that promotes health and fitness (limit alcohol consumptions and get adequate rest). Follow the training tips I outlined and you will be well on your way to be sporting a mean set of abs.
Getting six pack abs does not happen overnight. When most people ask how long it takes to get six pack abs, I tell them most bodybuilders give themselves 6 months to get in peak conditioning. Be patient, stay motivated and get them!
Written by Erick Ruiz Salgaldo
Let me start by saying this: There are a ton of tips and tricks out there on how to achieve your “best” physique. But when all’s said and done, how do you know which ones to listen to? How do you know which ones will put you on the straight and narrow to your “best” you?
News flash. You don’t.
It’s like finding a man or that perfect little black dress. It’s not always what looks good on paper — you have to try a bunch on before you find the one that fits you just right. There’s no steadfast plan. No secret method. It all comes down to old school trial and error. Like that man or that dress, no one exercise will work for every woman’s body because we’re all built differently; therefore, we’re all going to respond differently.
It took me a long time to understand that patience is key in building your “best” body. I know plenty of people who threw their weights in frustration and quit when they didn’t see gains from what they thought they should be doing. Or what they thought was “best” based on someone else’s routine. So my intention is not to dictate what you should be doing, but to break you out from that line of thinking and give you some new ideas and moves to try on for size.
For a lot of us ladies, the backside is a tough area to tackle. Having always had more of an ample posterior, I’m constantly looking for new ways to target and strengthen the glutes. They’re comprised of the Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus, with the Maximus being the largest of the three. In order to hit all of those, squats and hip thrusts are great choices to add into your training repertoire.
When working the butt, using enough weight is critical. I used to think low weight/repping my face off was the way to go. But I’ve seen the most gains after adding more weight into my sets, so it’s something to consider.
Starting with squats. They target your hips and thighs, in addition to your glutes, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. You can do them on a Smith machine for more control, a squat rack, or by holding dumbbells to each side or on your shoulders. Whatever you choose, keep your back straight and your weight evenly distributed through your feet and heels. Drop your butt down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, without letting your knees go past your toes. Keep those glutes tight throughout the movement.
Onto hip thrusts. A good friend of mine showed me this move, and I fell in love with it right away. A variation of butt bridges, which are done completely on the floor, hip thrusts have you sitting on the ground with your shoulder blades against a flat bench. With your feet flat on the floor, have a straight bar or loaded barbell ready to go. Place it over the top of your thighs, and roll it up so it’s just at your hips. Then, power through your feet and drive your hips straight up, squeeze and hold for five seconds before bringing your hips back down. Again, squeeze those glutes the entire move to really make them work for it.
My recommendation is to mix up your quad/ham/adductor exercises, so you’re always challenging your thighs. A good overall burner is the lunge and they have a ton of variations: to the front, side or back, and with either a barbell across your shoulders or holding dumbbells. If you really want to bring the pain, try walking lunges. (Hold some dumbbells while taking wide steps across the gym.) Rule of thumb for whichever you choose…don’t hyperextend your knees. Make sure they don’t go past your toes.
For hitting those abductors and adductors, I like dumbbell plie squats. Keep your stance wide and hold/dangle a dumbbell between your legs. Lower yourself, like a squat, as far as you can comfortably drop, and push back up with the weight in your heels. And just to reiterate…don’t be afraid to grab a heavy dumbbell. Your inner thighs will hate me, and then thank me for it.
Now to hit those hams. I love some heavy stiff-leg deadlifts and standing single-leg hamstring curls. My tip would be to compound set those. Try running 4 sets, and go for 10-12 reps. On the deads, keep your legs stiff and your back straight. For the curls, point your toes for max contraction.
The typical ab adage is that they’re “made in the kitchen, not in the gym.” And there’s a ton of truth to that. But since I’m gearing this article toward training, I’ll give you my picks for a few good stomach smashers.
Know this going in: I train abs every workout. Few will tell you to do that, since abs are just like any other muscle that needs rest. But I follow my own advice and do what works for me.
Let’s start with weighted stability ball crunches. These really target the upper abs. Hold a dumbbell (make sure it’s a decent amount of weight to provide resistance) at the top of the chest and lay back on a stability ball with your shoulder blades. Crunch up by bending at the hips, keeping the back as flat as you can and pulling your abs tight. Be sure you’re only bending at the waist…no movement from the shoulders. It should be very controlled and focused.
Another good option is an incline push sit-up. Grab a weight plate and lay back on an incline bench. Hold the plate out in front of you, keep your arms straight and crunch, pushing up with the weight. Take note: you’ll definitely feel this one.
Moving on to obliques. Try dumbbell twists. Sit on the floor, knees bent, holding a dumbbell in front of you. Lift your feet off the ground a few inches, and twist the dumbbell side to side. Keep your body facing forward as you twist, as opposed to jerking your upper body back and forth.
And perhaps the most difficult part of the abs, the part we all love to hate...the nether ab region. A super-intense lower move is the hanging leg raise. You can hang from an abs chair or, if you have arm slings, clip them to a pull-up bar and stick your arms through each sling.
With your ankles together and your legs hanging straight down, bend your knees and bring them up toward your chest. Lower your legs to starting position, keeping your abs tight. Just be conscious of form here and keep the rocking under control, because your body will want to roll forward.
Another good one is the incline leg hip raise. These don’t look so hard at first, but trust me. They are. Lay back on an incline board and grab onto the top handle or feet pads. Keep your ankles together, and roll yourself up, raising your knees to your chest by flexing at the hips. Then roll back down into starting position. Keep your feet neutral, but not using them to lead the movement. Keep all of the pull from your middle.
And now, my favorite. The delts. Having full, round shoulders is boss in my book. They make you look a little broader up top, which makes things like your waist look smaller. To make sure you build them up from all angles, you need to hit them from the front, sides and rear.
So, try compound setting three exercises. For front, do seated dumbbell military presses. (You can do them one arm at a time, or both at the same time.) Next, go into dumbbell lateral raises. Bend a little at the waist when doing them. And finish with cable one-arm rear lat raises. For these, stand next to a low pulley with a stirrup or D-handle attachment. Slightly bend over with a bit of a bend in your knees, and pull the attachment out to the side, raising your arm until your elbow is up around your shoulder. Keep the move slow and controlled on both the way up and down.
While some of these tips may lead you to your “best,” remember…the name of the game is trying new things to see how they work for you. Challenge yourself. Don’t get sucked into promises or “shoulds”. Get out there and define your own “best” you.
written by Heather Leff
The truth is you don’t need surgery to get the body of your dreams. You are the only one responsible for your success. If you want abs, 80% of your results will rely on your diet. YOU are the only person who controls what you put in your body. If your friends or family are not supporting you in your efforts to get lean, let them know you are serious about reaching this goal and that your eating habits are going to change. Sure you may get a few odd looks and some people may feel uncomfortable around you because you are making them feel guilty about what they eat, but just stay focused. The results will be amazing!
I am not going to lie to you and tell you that eating for six pack abs is easy. Getting proper nutrition is an ongoing effort. If you break your diet, DO NOT GIVE UP! If you give into temptation, admit you made a mistake, and try even harder to eat clean. Depending on your current eating habits you may find this step easier than others. Even if you have the worst eating habits, you can still get six pack abs, but it will require time to develop clean eating habits. You are capable of achieving great abs. Here is what you need to know to eat for better abdominals.
Is a calorie just a calorie, or does the quality of that calorie matter? Many people cautiously check the nutrition statements on their food, but do they know the difference between quality ingredients? You can count calories all you want, but if you are eating poor quality calories, your results will be limited at best.
Imagine you have a clone, and that clone eats the same amount of calories but from chocolate bars. Now imagine you get all your calories from whole food. Who will look (and feel) better? You would look and feel better than your clone of course! This is an extreme example, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme.
Let’s say you and your clone are both trying to “Get In Shape.” Your clone eats heavily processed, so called “Healthy Foods and Meals,” while you cook and eat fresh veggies and meats. Again, who is going to look and feel better? That’s right, you win again.
Many of these 'get fit quick' meal programs solely focus on restricting the quantity of calories in your diet, and completely ignore the quality of those calories. As a matter of fact, most of those 'get fit quick' meal programs use extremely low quality foods and ingredients in them. Why? Because, high quality food is not cheap and if they used high quality food they would not be able to make a profit. Remember, you get what you pay for. To get abs, feed your body with only high quality foods. That means eat whole
foods, not highly processed foods.
In general, processed foods digest quickly causing sharp changes in your body chemistry and can easily lead to fat storage. This happens for a few reasons:
“Fast foods and processed products are packed with trans fats, empty carbohydrates and calories,” stated Dr. Saman Bakhtiar in his article The Only Diet That Works.
Now, I want you to change the way you think about food. Most people see food as a pleasure. “They enjoy food.” Really? It takes you a few minutes to eat a tasty meal but are you willing to sabotage your body because you enjoyed that food? Well, I enjoy food also. I enjoy how I can control my body because of the food I choose to eat.
Think of your food a tool. Much like a good set of tools can make a home improvement project easier, quality whole foods make getting in shape easier as well. Whole foods are great tools that can help you get six pack abs. Most processed foods are convenient but will do little to help you reach your ultimate potential.
“But, I don’t have time to cook.”
Try cooking your food in bulk on the weekends. Stay away from the microwavable meals! Instead cook your meals and refrigerate or freeze them, so you can enjoy them throughout the week. This will ensure that you are actually getting meat, veggies and fruit in your meal and not some chemically enhanced
, salty, food substitute.
“Eating whole foods sound like a lot of work.”
Your diet is crucial to your success and, it will take some work. Sure it would be easier to buy a bunch of premade meals and just pop them in the microwave, but if it was that easy, don’t you think more people would have six pack abs? Getting in great shape is a lifestyle adjustment and it does take some hard work but it is well worth it. Your body will react best to foods that are less processed. So, do yourself a favor, go to Costco and load up on wholesome foods. On the weekend cook your meal for the rest of the week and feel confident about feeding your body quality calories.
You may be shocked to hear that many people gain weight due to under eating. That’s right! The body is great at surviving, and if we under eat or starve ourselves, the body reacts by slowing down our metabolic rate. This means your body will try to store as much fat as possible on your body when you put it in starvation mode.
I have seen the unfortunate consequences of under eating with many clients who come to me thinking they have to starve themselves. After reviewing their diet I come to find out that they are already starving their bodies and begin to have them eat more frequently. As they begin to eat more frequently and workout, their appetite increases as well but I have them eat frequent meals with no limitation on calories, they just have to eat whole foods. Every client is amazed at how well my simple diet programs work for them and tell me they never thought they would lose fat by eating more.
Losing fat while eating more, sounds
too good to be true, doesn’t it? But it is not and there is a logical explanation.
Let me elaborate on why our body reacts this way. Way back when humans hunted and gathered food, we would experience periods with little to no food. Animals would be scarce or a drought would kill off vegetation. In times like these, our bodies would have to adapt to survive. The body would eat away at our muscle mass (Muscle requires large amount of energy to maintain) thus slowing down its metabolism, and store as much fat as possible. This adaptation is great for survival but horrible for getting six pack abs.
To prevent your body from going into a starvation state, I recommend eating six small meals throughout the day. This will ensure that your body has the proper nutrients it needs, thus prevent the body from attempting to store fat. If the body knows that food is not far away, it will not store large amount of fat around your mid section.
Now, this does not mean you can over eat or eat whatever you want. You will still need to eat a diet that is clean and has the proper macro nutrition ratios to get six pack abs, but eating every 2-3 hour will help. If you eat lean protein and complex carbohydrates in your diet you will be well on your way to getting six pack abs.
Eating frequently will prevent you from becoming hungry and craving fatty and/or sugary foods. We crave sugary or fatty food most when our blood sugars are low and our body is desperate for energy. Frequent meals will help stabilize blood sugars and prevent many of these strong cravings.
Frequent meals also help preserve muscles, thus increasing your metabolism. I mentioned this earlier but I want to stress how important this is. When the body needs protein and it is not readily available, your body will take protein from your muscles. This is a survival reaction in which the body eats itself in order to survive. Because muscle burns calories, this process also slows down your metabolism. Frequent meals help prevent this by ensuring your body always has some readily available protein.
Let review why eating frequent meals is so important:
It has been said that water is the essence of life. And it is true. If water did not exist on earth; life would not have been able to flourish. We are truly fortunate to have an abundance of this amazing elixir on our planet and yet people still do not utilize it properly.
Water is vital to every bodily process! While we may be able to survive for weeks without food, we would only survive a few days without water. Water is so important to our bodies that our bodies are composed of ~70% water. If water was not key to our survival 70% of our body would be composed of something other than water.
As a matter of fact, the aging process is due mostly to our body’s inability to effectively utilize water. We literally shrivel up as we age as out body’s water composition drops.
Water can do much more than just keep you healthy. It can keep your metabolism kicking and help you curb your cravings. Let’s start with the fat burning effects of water.
Without going into technical detail, all you need to know if that water is essential for bodily functions. Building lean muscle tone and burning fat is no exception. Water is needed for exercise because it helps rush oxygen and nutrition to your muscle by keeping your blood fluid. Drink too little water and your blood will become thick make it very difficult for your body to pump blood into your muscles. The same is true for fat metabolism. Water is needed to metabolize fat, but if you do not drink enough water, you can expect to have a hard time getting those abs to show.
Drinking water also helps you feel full. Water has zero calories and when ingested can help you feel fuller longer. This is the reason why vegetables are great fat loss foods. They tend to be high in fiber and water, both of which have zero calories!
I like to drink about a gallon of water a day throughout the day. I drink a majority of my water in the morning to help me hydrate for the rest of the day but I never drink large quantities of water at once. Drinking too much water at once can thin your blood and lead to medical complications. Spread out your water consumption throughout the day and remember, water will not only help you get six pack abs it will help you stay younger, healthier and feel better also.
I hope you found this information useful. If you are serious about getting six pack abs. These three nutrition tips are crucial. Eat frequent meals composed of whole foods accompanied with plenty of water. That’s all you have to do. It seems so simples and yet a majority of people in the world neglect their health by ignoring these tips. Follow them and you will soon look in the mirror to find your ripped pair of six pack abs looking back at you!
Written By Erick Ruiz Salgaldo
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