Six pack abs are an often elusive goal. Abdominals that are well defined and etched in stone are often the measure of being in shape. Abdominal exercises and training equipment litter the market. The promise of a six pack drives many hard training athletes to hours of ineffective abdominal exercises. Like most muscles, the answer to eye-catching abdominals is to train smarter, not harder.
Just like any other muscle, the abdominals can be trained with strength exercises to develop the muscle, however, if they are covered with a layer of fat, or water, then they will not be visible. Because of this, nutrition has a vital role in the display of the abdominal muscles.
Overall body fat percentage has more to do with the visibility of the abdominals than the muscles themselves. This point cannot be stressed enough! Reducing body fat will bring the abdominals out. One way to reduce body fat is to reduce caloric intake and manipulate nutrient intake. The lower a bodybuilder’s overall body fat percentage the better the overall definition will be, not just in the abdominals. Another weapon in the battle against body fat is cardiovascular exercise. Any steps taken by the bodybuilder to decrease body fat will help display the abdominals better.
The more dense and developed the abdominals are the stronger they will look. Direct abdominal exercises will help you achieve this. Research has not shown a link between abdominal exercises and the reduction of fat over the abdomen, but strengthening the area has many benefits. These are the muscles that help maintain balance, ensure good posture, and provide extra power when pushing or pulling against resistance. The abdominal muscles also protect the spine and internal organs.
Many athletes fall victim to thinking the abdominals require hundreds of repetitions to be worked effectively. On the contrary, the abdominals can be worked effectively with just 15 to 25 repetitions. This repetition range allows for some necessary muscle growth without the fear of “bulking up.“
To achieve a good abdominal workout in 15 to 25 repetitions some resistance must be added to most abdominal exercises. This can be done in a variety of ways.
For searing, blinding, mind-numbing abdominal work, try performing 2 to 3 sets of 2 or 3 of the following exercises, and finish it off with non-weighted v-crunches. These will definitely help you build bigger abs.
- High Pulley Crunches- Grasp a rope handle from a lat pulldown machine and kneel backwards on the seat. Using a crunching motion, by pulling your ribcage toward your hips, roll the weight downward to a full contraction. Then return to the stretch position. Repeat for 15 to 25 repetitions per set.
- V-crunches: Lay on the floor with your legs held out straight and elevated at a 45 to 60 degree angle to the floor. Then reach upward toward the toes until only the hips and lower back are touching the floor. Hold the contraction at the top for 5 seconds. Then lower back to the starting position, and repeat the process for 25 repetitions.
- Weighted V-crunches are done exactly like V-crunches except weight is attached to the hands and feet using ankle and wrist weights, dumbbells, or a cable crossover machine.
- Cable Crunches- Use a rope handle attached to a low pulley with weight and grasp the handles at the ears, then perform crunches against the resistance for 15 to 25 repetitions.
- Weighted Leg Raises- Attach weight to the ankles, or hold it between the feet, and pull the weight upward by bringing the knees up toward the chest in a hip-rolling motion, then lower it slowly to the starting position. Do this for 15 to 25 repetitions.
For those who are stuck on traditional crunches, try performing a couple of weighted sets, followed by a couple of traditional sets, and finish with a couple of sets of V-crunches. If you follow a program like the one suggested be prepared to have trouble standing up straight the next day. Train your abdominals like any other muscle group, follow a good nutritional plan, and display those six pack abs for the world to see.