Jack LaLanne, Doug Brolus
One of the most impressive muscle groups in the entire body is the abdominals. They are the center of the physique and a primary focal point of judges and laymen alike. But a well developed set of abs is more than just cosmetic.
A set of washboard abs will provide improved digestion (more blood is pumped into the region), and better posture (the abs help keep the back straight and the internal organs supported).
But because the abdomen is a fat storage area, it is tough to maintain. The slightest bit of adipose tissue and your results are blurred beyond recognition. Obviously, you must stay on a lower calorie diet all year round and keep plugging plugging away on a rigorous abdominal routine if sharp abs are the goal. It's not easy, but the rewards and benefits are worth the effort.
The Super Ab Philosophy
Bodybuilders all face the problem of how to get cut when they want to peak. If you eat good all year round and stay close to 95% of your best shape, you will usually have no problem getting cut up. It should only take two to three weeks to reach your peak.
Believe me, it takes a lot of discipline to stay on a good diet all year long. Most bodybuilders follow a diet six to eight weeks before peaking in hopes of getting the extreme cuts desired, but unfortunately many fail miserably. Why?
In most of the cases, more time is needed to get cut. Bodybuilders should understand that bodybuilding is a year 'round lifestyle.
In addition, bodybuilders who take anabolic steroids have an even bigger job ahead of them when it comes to cut abs. Steroids cause the cells to hold a lot of water, making the user look puffy. When you train the natural way, you will feel better and the muscles will not shrink owing to coming off cycle. The muscle tissue will be more solid and not all puffy from drug induced water retention and bloat.
Also, the bodybuilder must never go on an all out bulking diet in hopes of gaining muscle. The metabolism simply cannot handle the accelerated food intake. The body can only use so much protein every few hours, so it makes sense to eat smaller meals. This helps keep the waist small and defined.
The Super Ab Routine
To get the abdominal muscles super developed, using weights on the various abdominal exercises will give faster results. After all, the abs are basically no different than any other muscle group.
I like to train my abs four days a week for best results. I train Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday. Because the abs are used in almost every exercise as a stabilizing muscle group, I train mine at the end of my routine. Also, when doing abdominal exercises, I rest very little between sets in order to keep the blood flowing the the ab region for a constant burn.
My favorite ab exercises are situps, leg lifts on a bench, roman chair situps, and hanging leg raises.
Do as many reps on each exercise as you like but remember to use some weight on situps, leg lifts, and roman chair situps. Use enough weight on all the abdominal exercises you do so you can do 10-20 reps per set.
The routine I am about to list is a specialization routine. Use it for 4 to 6 weeks at a time, then cut back the sets a bit to prevent overtraining.
Situps: The first exercise is the situp on a slight decline. Try putting a 10-lb plate wrapped in a towel behind your head. Now, start doing sets of 20 reps. If you're a bit of an advanced trainee, try doing 4 sets of 20 with a 10-lb weight. This is the best exercise for thickening the abs. Do each rep at a medium speed and concentrate on the entire movement. Exhale as you come up and inhale as you lower yourself down.
Roman Chair Situps: Put a barbell plate on your chest for this one. When you are sitting on the Roman chair, go only halfway back and return to the starting position by curling the body forward. Exhale as you come up, and inhale as you go down. Do 4 sets of 10 with enough weight to make each set tough. If you can do more than 10 reps, go ahead and let 'em rip.
Leg Lifts on a Bench: Lay flat on a bench. Put your hands behind your head and hold on to the bench, lifting the legs halfway up until perpendicular with the floor. Then, let them down even with the bench, not letting your feet touch the floor. When you can do 4 sets of 20 reps, attach some weight to your ankles.
Hanging Leg Raises: Hang from a chinning bar. Let your legs hang straight down. Keeping the legs straight, bring your legs overhead, then lower them back to the starting position, but do not let your feet touch the floor. Try doing 4 sets of as many reps as you can. If this one is too tough at first, bend your knees and bring them up to your chest each rep. Or do the bent knee variation to extend a straight-leg set.
The three most important aspects of ab training and getting the midsection you want are working out hard, eating appropriately, and keeping motivation high. You have realize that unless you're willing to watch your diet all the ab training in the world won't bring out the crisp abs you want. Just think of your time "in the kitchen" as part of your ab routine. It's that simple, really. If you really want it, you'll get it.
Enjoy Your Lifting!