The gimmicks of how to flatten your belly, such as abs in 30 days, one-minute abs training, or the ab machine of the future, all have two things in common. First, they all promise you the look of the six-pack abs. And second, they don't work!
The abdominals, the six pack, the washboard, whatever you want to call them, we all know they stand out! It is a look that brings envy worldwide. Abdominals are the first thing seen; their magic gives you the appearance of a fit, healthy, strong, and sexy body. And abdominal muscles are important in overall fitness and are one of the key components of this muscular network providing the strength to keep the body upright and give the strength for movement. Your abs are constantly at work, unlike other body parts that have days off from training. Your abdominals hardly rest and are exercised in everyday life.
Whether you're training or conducting any physical activity, you rely on a strong midsection for sustained intra abdominal pressure. The abdominal section is made up of fluids and tissue that are kept under pressure by your deep abdominal muscles where they are supporting the spinal column during any lifting movement.
By neglecting to train your abs correctly, you are opening yourself to disc problems and spinal trauma that can affect your training goals and potentially your law enforcement career, as well. Strong stomach muscles attained through abdominal exercise and back exercise reduce the likelihood of back pain and provide protection against injury by responding efficiently to stresses.
For years, the health industry has been telling people to strengthen their abdomens to prevent lower back pain. In today's world of quick fixes and misleading gimmicks, the media has not been introducing a proper or even realistic way to train the abdominals to achieve the goal of a strong midsection.
This muscle group is composed of upper and lower abdominis. This is the large muscle in the front of the abdomen. It supports the muscles of the spine while lifting. The rectus abdominis is often described as the washboard abs. When properly developed, it will indeed give the illusion of the "six pack."
Oblique muscles are the diagonally arranged abdominal muscle on either side of the torso. These muscles are composed of three layers: internal, transverse, and external obliques. Together, the muscles contract to tilt the torso and twist from side to side. These muscles need to be trained in order to maintain ideal postural alignment.
This muscle lies between the ribs and shows as a band of muscle angling downward on the sides of the rib cage. The intercostal muscles assist the body in twisting movements.
- Serratus Anterior Muscles
Serratus anterior muscles are the strands of muscles on the rib cage just below your lat muscles. They appear on the abdominal like fingers running down the side of your abs.
Many different midsection exercises exist. The best way is to train the abdominal in sections: upper, upper and lower, lower, and sides. For your upper abdominal, try floor crunches and decline sit-up crunches (knee bent). For your upper and lower abdominals, try reverse crunches and machine or pulley reverse crunches. For lower abdominals, do hanging leg raises or flat bench leg raises. For your side abdominals, do one-arm cable crunches and rotate trunk twist crunches.
The traditional ab crunch is the best choice to hit the upper rectus abdominis muscle. To train the entire muscle, you need to manipulate the crunch by doing reverse crunches (bring your knees to your chest) to affect the lower reclus abdominis. The obliques assist in forward flexion, but to get the true six-pack look, you need to go further by adding a rotation/twist movement.
Remember, there are four different muscles that need to be trained. Abs should be trained slowly and deliberately with concentration and flexing (squeezing) the area for one or two seconds. Visualize your abdominals being formed. This will help you get the workout on the muscle you are trying shape and strengthen. Breathing out on the crunch will apply more resistance to the muscle.
Here is a sample of my gut-wrenching ab routine. I work the abdominals three days a week in a sequence, starting with the upper portion of the abs, then the lower region, and then with the side of the abs. For each of the following exercises, I perform two sets with 20 to 30 reps.
Lie on the floor, knees bent, (I prefer to rest my legs on a bench) hands crossed over chest, or over your ears, and crunch up. Hold and squeeze, count to three, and breath.
To properly do a reverse crunch, you should be sitting at the end of a bench, holding the sides, knees bent and feet slightly raised from the floor, with your upper body very slightly leaning back. Slowly bring your legs up to your chest, squeeze, hold for a count of three, and breath.
To do hanging leg raises, hang on a chinning bar or use a leg raise machine. Bend your legs about 15 degrees and keep them bent and relaxed! Use your abdominal muscles to raise your legs upward until they are level with your hips, and then hold for a count of three and remember to breath. If you do not have a chinning bar, the same can be accomplish be lying flat on a bench, buttock near the edge, holding the sides, knees very slightly bent. Bring the legs upward, not too high, but just high enough to feel a continuance (uninterrupted) resistance.
Use an overhand grip on a cable pulley machine with your side and stand inward toward the machine. Bring the pulley down to your head and keep it station. Then bend your upper torso down to the side of the muscle you are training, (you are bending to the side). Your elbow should point to the outside of your leg. Concentrate on the muscle you are using, and squeeze.
The advanced stage exercise should be used as a "jump start" when your routine becomes stale and it needs a shock. In a tri-set, you need to set up three machines or stations and perform any of the above exercise in a super set style, keeping in mind that you need one exercise for upper, lower, and side. Start at one station, doing one set with 20 to 30 reps, and move to the next station until all three exercises are completed. This is considered one set, rest one to two minutes, and then repeat it two or three times.
If any of the above exercises seem too easy, you're probably not doing them correctly. Slow down and control your movement because quality is always better than quantity. As always, start out slow with fewer reps, sets, and weight. Increase accordingly. When your abs adapt to the routine, you may need to increase resistance by adding weight or by simply holding the squeeze longer. Ab muscles should be trained like any other body part as they need time to recover.
All of the ab work in the world will not show if there is a layer of fat around the belly. If this is so, you need to include a nutritional diet and a cardiovascular exercise into your program to achieve the results you desire.
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