The abs are the centre piece of a bodybuilders physique and as such they are a great muscle group to show off but also a difficult group of muscles to train correctly as people simply do not know how. Hands up anyone who is still doing sit-ups as an abdominal exercise. If that is you, then you really should think about giving them a miss, after all you are really training the illiopsoas (hip) muscle which is a muscle that moves the knee upwards and is certainly not in your abs. Indeed many people do all sorts of things to get the 6 pack look without reward. However here are three great exercises that effectively train the abdominal muscles and get you results.
1) Bench crunches: These target the upper abdominal region. Lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and resting on a bench. Keep your hands touching your temples and lift your head to a 45 degree angle then return to the starting position. Make sure you do not pull your head upwards as you do this, as it will cause unnecessary strain on your neck and make sure you exhale during the effort phase.
2) Cable crunches: This exercise is designed to target the oblique muscles located on the side of your body. you will need access to a tricep pushdown cable for this exercise. Start facing the machine grasping both cables firmly. The cables will ideally now be on either side of your head. From this position lock your upper body posture and crunch down to alternate knees maintaining tension throughout.
3) Seated leg tucks: This exercise targets the lower abdominal region. Sit sideways on a standard weight bench and hold the edges for support. Maintain bent knees and lift your legs and then straighten them out fully. You may need to lean back slightly in order to keep a good balance. The second movement is to move your knees towards your chest. Do this and try and keep continuous tension throughout the ab region.
I recommend starting with 3-4 sets of between 10-20 controlled reps for each exercise. Increase as your fitness allows but always use correct form as you will be losing the effect of the exercise. Whilst doing any ab exercise ask yourself if you can actually feel your abs specifically working. If you can not then you are not training them properly, it is as simple as that.
Whilst the above exercises will effectively target the abs they will not give you a 6 pack on there own. We all have a 6 pack already, unfortunately for most of us it is covered in a layer of fat which means we are unable to see them. Training the abs with crunches will not make you lose weight around the waist. If you want to lose weight around the waist you are going to have to create a calorie deficit daily by using up more calories than you consume. This can be done easily through a combination of restricting calorie intake and doing regular cardio-exercise.
So, in summary do your ab exercises with good technique and combine it with cardio-exercise and dieting on a regular and long term basis and you will get the 6 pack look.
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