Training the abdominal muscles has recently
been the subject of more misinformation and mythology than any other part
of the human anatomy. Gizmos and gadgets allege that they'll give you
those coveted "six-pack" abs. But here's how you can rationally train your
abs to their absolute maximum limit of development using everyday gym
equipment. There is nothing unique about abdominal muscles as far as their
training and response to training is concerned. The principles that apply
to biceps and triceps apply equally to abs. So the three critical elements
of your abs workouts are:
1- High-intensity of muscular overload
2- Progressive intensity from workout to workout
3- Proper spacing of workouts to avoid overtraining or under training
Most people do sit-ups or crunches as an ab exercise. While these are
basically good exercises that can satisfy point 1 above, how many people
use them in a way that satisfies point 2? Muscles will only develop in
response to overload that is above normal. So if you do 20 crunches every
day for a year, why would your ab muscles develop beyond that capacity?
To force new development, you need to increase the intensity. You could
add a few crunches every day, but that really just increases duration;
there is a better way to get fast results.
Abs exercises proven to work
1- Weighted crunches
2- Weighted incline sit-ups
3- Weighted sit-ups
The best way to do weighted crunches is to lie on the floor with your head
close to the low pulley weight stack. Using the rope handle attachment,
grasp the ends and pull the cable until it is tight and your hands are
resting at the side of your head near your ears. Now contract your ab
muscles in a crunch that lifts your shoulders off the floor and draws the
weight stack up an inch or two. Choose a weight that is so heavy, you can
only do 8 to 12 reps.
If you don't have access to a low pulley, there is a good alternative. You
can use the high pulley that is normally used for lat pull downs. Kneel on
the floor or sit in the seat directly under the rope handles that you
attach to the high pulley. Lock your legs under the hold down. Pull the
handles into position next to your ears, then contract your ab muscles
into a crunch that raises the weight stack an inch or two. Again, choose a
weight that is so heavy, you can only do 8 to 12 reps.
As a further alternative, you can lie on the floor and do a sit-up or
crunch while holding a barbell plate against your chest. The limitation of
this exercise is that, as you progress in strength, it will not be
possible to hold enough plates on your chest safely. But that's a good
problem to have.
On each successive workout, shoot for a 5-15% increase in the weight you
use. If you can't get a 5% increase, it's time to add more days off
between your workouts.