Thursday, October 9, 2008

Target Your Unsuspecting Abs

Abs. The sad but true fact is that whether you want to slim down a pot belly keg or show off 6 pack abs, you have to do some intensive targeted training on your mid section.

Your abs are notorious for being difficult to target.

To succeed in gaining 6 pack abs or a washboard stomach, you need to couple your fitness program with a low fat, low carb diet and you will have the beach or bedroom body that you desire.

It will take a month to 6 weeks just to begin to alter the landscape of your belly and you have to really, really want it to convince yourself to do the hard yards.

A training technique that will work to develop you abs involves a mixture of resistance training and intensive cardio.

Start with your favourite ab exercise (does such a thing exist?). Be it a crunch movement over a bench or with a rope pull or on an ab machine or a hanging leg lift, start you ab targeting workout with getting the blood pumping to your ab muscles.

It's actually a good idea to vary your ab exercise every few sessions to keep up the element of surprise for your poor long suffering body. You can do ab exercises every day, but doing them every second day gives them a chance to repair and regroup for your next assault.

If you are after a defined stand out six pack, go for heavy weight with 3 or 4 sets of as many reps as you can handle - it should not be many if you are doing the workout correctly. 8-10 is good.

If you want to tone up and get lean, try 3 or 4 sets of 15-20 reps on a low weight.

Either way, make sure you go as slowly as comfortable and pause for a couple of seconds at the peak of the movement before slowly returning to the start position. Keep your abs squeezed tightly throughout (don't forget to breathe!).

To effectively target your abdominals, you have to avoid 2 big mistakes that so many people make in the gym.

1. Each resistance exercise you do tends target specific muscle groups. If you use poor form and support the movement by swinging your body in any way, you are going to minimise the gains you want to make.

Keep as focused as possible on the muscles you are trying to work on. Take your time to adjust the equipment to your body and look in the mirror or have someone reliable check your movement so that your efforts are not wasted.

2. Do the movement slowly. If you race through an exercise, you are relying more on momentum than muscle. It may look very impressive indeed, but essentially it's a sad waste of effort.

You will make excellent gains by taking the time to be precise and unhurried.

After your resistance exercise, get on the treadmill and go for intensive cardio. A fast walking pace or a dedicated jog at a decent incline for at least 40 minutes will burn into your fat deposits, especially around your warmed up abdominals.

Feed your muscles after your workout. Protein shakes or bars are ideal to top up your nutrients and energy levels.

Make sure you eat 5-6 small meals, with most of the carbs (complex of course) in the first half of your day. Try to ban the plate filler type carbs like potatoes, rice, pasta and bread from your dinner time menu.

It's tough, but do you want great abs or not? It works.

: article by Rosie Peters [ Rosie Peters gives common sense advice, encouragement and tips for weight loss, sensible diet and lifelong fitness at ( ) Download Rosie's free report 5 Simple Steps to Fat Loss ( ) and start losing weight today. ]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Anatomy of the Ab Muscles

In fitness the biggest fascination in fitness is getting a flat stomach or having washboard abs, but in this article I want to talk about the anatomy of the ab muscles.

There are 4 muscles in the anterior (front) abdominal wall. They are the rectus abdominus, the external oblique, the internal oblique and the transversus abdominus.

The rectus abdominus might be the most popular ab muscle because this is the muscle that makes up the 6 pack. The rectus abdominus runs straight down the abdomen and attaches the ribs to the pelvis. It works really hard when you do crunches and sit ups or any other exercise in which your spine bends forward against resistance. The rectus abdominus is primarily a mover of the spine, but in addition it helps to stabilize the pelvis and lower back.

The external oblique is located on both sides of your waist. This muscle goes diagonally from the back of your lower ribs down to your pelvis. The external obliques on both sides work to help your spine bend forward like in crunches and sit ups, so when you so crunches all of your ab muscles work.

However, if you want to emphasize the obliques you need to incorporate twisting, rotation, or side-bending. When you turn your legs to the side or twist your body at the top part of a sit up or crunch your external oblique muscle will work harder than during a regular crunch.

The internal oblique is located underneath the external oblique. It goes diagonally from the pelvis up to the lower ribs. Just like the external oblique, the internal oblique works during regular crunches, but it is emphasized with twisting or rotation.

The internal obliques are built more for stability since they are deeper and closer to the spine. Isometric side planks are a good exercise for the internal obliques.

The fourth abdominal muscle is the transversus abdominus. Although it is the least popular muscle, many physical therapists think it is the most important muscle.

As the name suggests, the transverse abdominus runs across the abdomen. It is the deepest of all the abdominal muscles, and since it is so close to the spine it is the major abdominal stabilizer of the spine. The transversus abdominus does not move the spine forwards or help it to twist and rotate. The only function of the transversus abdominus is to stabilize the spine and stop it from moving.

Sometimes the transverse abdominus is referred to as your natural girdle because it acts like a girdle to keep your stomach pulled in. It will work during every movement and every ab exercise, but you can emphasize it by pulling your belly button towards your spine.

All of the abdominal muscles have a unique role, and all of them are important. In a fitness program, I suggest that you take an integrated approach and focus on different types of exercises to condition all of the abdominal muscles.

: article by Charles A. Inniss, Jr. DPT
[ Charles Inniss ( ) is a Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer. For pictures and descriptions of tons of ab exercises and free ab workouts visit his website at ( ) ]