Abs Muscle Building
Many people complain that they cannot get their abs to the condition that they would like. The thing is these same people have the attitude that ab training is somehow a secondary priority to their arms or chest training for example.
What a lot of people fail to realize is that the abs are a muscle group in their own right and should to be treated with the same level of priority as the rest of the major muscle groups.
The bottom line is, if you want a sexy looking six pack, you need to put as much effort into training them as you do your other major muscle groups.
This sounds obvious when you read it in black and white, but a lot of people really do neglect their ab training and expect them to miraculously look good.
The abs are a very tight and strong muscle group, and can easily cope with increased resistance training.
Look at it this way – you wouldn’t go to the gym and train your biceps doing the same exercises and using the same weight week after week, month after month and expect them to grow – you would need vary the exercises and steadily increase the weight.
This is exactly how muscles grow – through increased resistance training. Abs are no different. Therefore using a resistance ab machine or weights behind your head or on your chest whilst doing sit-ups and using weighted boots whilst performing leg raises is the key to well developed and defined abdominal muscles (aka ‘the sexy six pack’)As well as looking good, a strong abdominal area will improve your CORE strength. This is vital for strength exercises such as Squats or Dead-lifts.
“A few years back I worked on a re-occurring lower back injury caused by heavy squatting – by concentrating more effort on my ab routines. The result was a stronger lower back and increased confidence when squatting.”
Tuck your feet under the pads of the sit up bench, hands to the side of your head (finger tips just touching behind your ears) knees slightly bent to avoid lower back stress and bring your upper body up towards your knees. Inhale at rest position and blow out slowly as you are coming up. For maximum effect – force as much air out of your lungs as possible whilst at full crunch position and hold for 1 to 2 seconds on each rep. If you can adjust the angle of your sit up bench, increase the angle over time as your abs grow stronger and develop. Avoid placing your hands around the back of your head because you will be tempted to try to pull your head up first with your arms which may result in neck injury.
Rotating Sit Ups
As above, but at the top of the movement at full crunch rotate your upper body so that your elbow touches the opposite knee and then the other elbow touches its’ opposite knee. Try to touch on the inside of the elbow / knee joints NOT the tip of the humerus / knee cap.
Using a flat bench or sit-up bench, lie on your back with top of your hams just resting on the end of the bench so your legs are hanging off the end and unsupported, reach over your head with your arms and grip the side of the bench tightly. Point your toes forward and then bring your legs up in a full arc movement until your toes reach a vertical line with your chest. You may have to bend your legs slightly as you bring your legs up. As your ham strings become more supple over time you should be able to straighten your legs little by little. For maximum effect, at the top of the movement try to gain maximum vertical height of your feet by bringing your buttocks off the bench as high as you can so that just the upper part of your back is is contact with the bench. Come back slowly to rest position keeping your toes pointing forward. Take care not to lower your legs too quickly past the horizontal position as this may cause lower back injuries.
Roman Chair Sit Ups
A roman chair is basically a seat with ankle / shin supports at the same horizontal level as the seat. You sit on the seat, facing the ankle / shin supports. Lean back and at the same time bring your legs up to took in underneath the supports. This allows your full upper body to be completely unsupported so that you can lean back as far as possible – even past the horizontal level – to gain maximum stretch of your abdominal area. Once you have comfortably achieved this movement you can then do sit ups in the normal manner, the differences being that your upper body has a larger range of movement and that your legs will be straighter. Take care not to lower your upper body too quickly past the horizontal position and only go back as far as you are comfortable with. Over time your lower back will become more supple and allow you go back further.
Need more ideas? Here are some successful Body Building Techniques
The most successful body building techniques incorporate proven weight routines. A weight routine is a set of exercises, done in repetition, that develops specific parts of the body. For example, to build chest muscles, a body builder may use a weight routine that incorporates flat bench press (3 repetitions), bench dumbbell (2 repetitions) and inclined bench press (3 repetitions). The other important function a weight routine serves is to split a training program so different muscle groups are used.
Dumbbells are a common piece of equipment used to build bigger biceps. The most popular technique to get the desired result is to hold the dumbbell closer to the inside of the plates. Routines for building biceps include dumbbell curls either inclined or standing, or both.
Building Chest Muscle
Good chest muscle building exercises are routines that incorporate bench presses and flyes. An even more effective way to build chest muscle is to split the chest into 3 zones – upper, middle and lower. By working each separately, using exercises that specifically target that area, you can build up some impressive chest muscle fairly quickly.
For instance, do your upper chest exercises on a 30-45% incline bench. Incline barbell and incline dumbbell flyes are excellent for working upper chest muscles. On the other hand, the lower chest muscles are best exercised using a 30-45% decline bench. You would use decline barbell and decline dumbbell flyes to build these muscles. A flat bench works best for the middle chest muscles. So you’d do flat barbell and flat dumbbell flyes on a flat bench.
Moving Onto Shoulder Training
The shoulders are made up of 3 main muscles – the lateral, anterior and posterior deltoids. Effective shoulder training to get big shoulders requires working all 3. The anterior deltoid usually gets some work in chest workouts. To build up the lateral and posterior deltoids requires additional exercises targeting these two muscles. Generally the best way to do this is with heavy barbell and dumbbell pressing in short reps as opposed to a lot of rep work with lighter weights. You should also focus on shoulder exercises that work effectively with progressive overload, a technique used to progressively add more weight to what is being lifted.
Matching Up The Back With Back Exercises
The back is one area many body builders overlook. But if you want your back to match up with those impressive chest, shoulder and bicep muscles, you will need to include back exercises in your bodybuilding routine.
Good workouts for the Lower Trapezius or lower back muscles include stiff-legged good mornings and hyper-extensions. For the middle back muscles or Rhomboids, you can do a seated cable row and bent-over barbell rows. Your Latissimus Dorsi will benefit from wide-grip lat pull-downs and pull-ups. And last but not least, try upright rows and barbell shrugs for your Trapezius.
But before starting any body-building workout, be sure to warm up properly. This will reduce the risk of damaging muscles and tendons. Stretch the muscles you’re going to be working. Also avoid lifting more weight than your body can capably handle to avoid serious injury.