There have been countless articles, books, DVDs and probably even hymns dedicated to the pursuit of the sculpted six pack. Perhaps because they really are at the centre of the body and are the focal point where our eyes are automatically drawn to, but nothing holds as much cache in the fitness world as really defined washboard abdominals. Despite the fact that the assembled bodies of ab training work could probably stretch from London to Las Vegas and back again, too many people have built a mystique around effective stomach exercises and what it takes to really display a show stopping, or beach gawping, six pack. Well sit back and hold tight because we are going to cut through all the various BS you read on the net and get right down to basics.
“You can’t flex fat”.
Awh, you knew this one was coming. All the stomach muscles in the world are utterly useless at impressing unless they can be seen. Ditch the doughnuts and cheese sandwiches, have a quick read of this, and be prepared to exert self control. There is no substitute for discipline, especially if you want to have abs that look like this:
“It takes 6 weeks of intensive training to develop your abdominal muscles to their full potential”.
Yes that’s right. Six weeks is all it takes. That isn’t a typo.
Now I should make myself clear, that is six weeks of gut busting (pardon the pun) all out effort where you train your abs 3 times a week for 20 minutes at a time with an intensity that would make a ninja sweat. But if you think about it, that is only 6 hours work for a lifetime of rippling abdominal development.
And how do you achieve this miraculous feat? Well first of all let us take a moment to grasp exactly what the abdominal muscles do so that we can best structure an exercise programme that maximally stimulates development.
First of all the abs aren’t merely the “abs”. A great looking (and physically strong) midsection comprises of the rectus abdominis (the six pack muscles) that is responsible for flexing the lumbar spine and depressing the ribcage; the external obliques (the muscles that sit just over the iliac crest) that compress the abdomen and that the contraction of one side only bends the trunk laterally to the contracted side whilst rotating it to the opposite side; and the external intercostals (the muscles that sit over the lower borders of the ribs) that stabilise the ribcage during any trunk movement.
Clearly developing a six pack like the one in the photo above (author’s note – any reader who successfully guesses the identity of the aforementioned abs receives a free training session for successfully playing to my vanity!) it is a little bit more complicated than doing a few sets of 15 sit ups on your bedroom floor every morning. A carefully constructed training programme that works all the muscles of the midsection through a range of repetition, load and tempo variables must be formulated.
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