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  1. #1
    BigGreen's Avatar
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    Excellent Article on Ab Training

    Ab Training for Athletes and Babehounds, 2K3
    New exercises, new format, new pain!
    by Christian Thibaudeau

    About this time last year I wrote an article called "Ab Training for Athletes and Babehounds" which proved to be one of my most popular pieces (at least if I look at the amount of positive feedback I received). For some reason, developing sculpted abs remains a priority in strength training and the well-respected sport of babehounding.

    Itís understandable, though. The complexity and pure aestheticism of a rock hard stomach is visually very appealing. In fact, super abs can propel an average physique into "elite" status. For example, take two guys with the same amount of muscle, same all-around definition, but one has defined abs and the other doesnít. Despite having the same amount of muscle and muscularity, our friend with abs will look a lot better and much more muscular.

    Furthermore, abdominal muscles are important in most athletic actions and even in many of our everyday tasks. Having strong and conditioned abdominal muscles will make you a better athlete and reduce the risk of many injuries and pains, especially to the lower back region.

    That's why I decided to write an update to my ab training article. Simply put, in the past few months Iíve experimented with a myriad of abdominal exercises to see what worked best and what gave the fastest results. The outcome? Rock hard abs, very good trunk stability, a healthy lower back, and most of all: a super effective training program!

    Rock hard abdominal muscles can improve the quality of your physique like nothing else

    Now, everybody wants abs, everybody does abdominal work and, often, tons of it, yet how many peoples actually sport a head turning abdomen? Very few indeed. Obviously one factor is the amount of body fat that one carries. Regardless of how good your abdominal muscles are, if you have one inch of blubber hiding them you wont look very solid.

    However, the choice of exercises also greatly influences abdominal development and as a result, the way they look. The following program, a spin-off of its big brother, is one of the best ways to get there.

    The new summer ab program

    Last yearís program had you complete a circuit composed of five different abdominal exercises. You basically performed one giant set (I called it a circuit) of those five drills. This obviously led to great results in aestheticism, abdominal strength, and especially strength-endurance. However, the program had a few problems, the most important being the difficulty of supersetting five exercises in a commercial gym.

    For that reason I decided to modify the program design a bit. Instead of doing one giant set of five exercises, we're going to do three supersets of two exercises. This should take care of the inconvenience of doing the program in a commercial gym. Furthermore, this will allow us to work different capacities and develop them more thoroughly.

    For that purpose:

    Superset A will focus on trunk stability

    Superset B will focus on trunk strength

    Superset C will focus on trunk strength-endurance

    Just like with the 2002 program, the 2003 program is to be done on a day dedicated to ab training. The workout should last you around 30 minutes. You can do it after a regular workout, but only if it was a relatively easy workout (e.g. biceps/triceps).

    The program can be done 1, 2, or even 3 times per week by well conditioned athletes. Most people will be able to handle two sessions per week.

    Superset A: Trunk stability

    Intensity of work: low

    Volume of work: moderate

    Type of abdominal contraction: isometric

    Exercise A1: Forward roll

    This exercise is to be done on any one of the following three apparatus:

    1. Ab wheel
    2. Swiss ball
    3. Barbell loaded with 25lbs plates (the plates become the "wheels")

    The objective of this drill is simple: to extend your body forward until itís parallel to the ground. However, to make this drill effective you must:

    a) Keep the abdominals contracted/flexed during the entire movement: Contract the ab muscles as hard as you can (maximum static action) and focus on keeping this maximum contraction during the execution of the entire movement.

    b) When you roll yourself back up, you must do so with the abs, not the arms: Really focus on flexing your abs super hard to initiate the "roll-back." If your arms or back are tired after the set, you're not doing it properly.

    c) Only go as low as you can while maintaining a flat back: Flexing your abs forcefully at the start of the movement will flatten your lordosis (lower back curve) somewhat. You must maintain that flattened position during the entire movement. When you feel that your lower back is "sinking/curving," it means that you've gone too low for your capacities.

    Exercise A2: Plank

    This exercise is similar to the forward roll except that instead of rolling yourself back up when you're parallel to the ground, you maintain the position for a certain amount of time. The same rules apply as with the roll: you must keep your abs flexed at all time, and you must keep your lower back flat.

    You can do this drill four ways:

    1) Forearms on the floor
    2) On a swiss ball
    3) On an ab wheel
    4) On a barbell

    You can also add some spice to your training by trying to hold the plank while supporting yourself with one leg.

    Superset A: Trunk stability

    A1. Forward roll

    5-15 reps according to capacity

    312 tempo (roll down in 3 seconds, 1 second pause, and roll back in 2 seconds)

    A2. Plank

    30-60 seconds according to capacity

    The weekly periodization is:

    Week 1: Repeat superset 3 times

    Week 2: Repeat superset 4 times

    Week 3: Repeat superset 3 times

    Week 4: Repeat superset 6 times


    Superset B: Trunk strength

    Intensity of work: high

    Volume of work: low

    Type of abdominal contraction: concentric and eccentric

    Exercise B1: Cable crunches

    I like this exercise because if you do it properly you can really work the abs harder than with any other exercise. That's because the action of the hip flexors (psoas, rectus femoris) is somewhat limited. Furthermore, you're performing this exercise on your two feet which makes this drill very specific to many movements. Lastly, you can easily load up some big weights in this exercise, making it a perfect choice to work on your abdominal strength.

    To really feel this drill we need to respect the following guidelines:

    a) Keep the abdominals contracted/flexed during the entire movement: Contract the ab muscles as hard as you can (maximum static action) and focus on keeping this maximum contraction during the entire execution of the movement.

    b) Initiate the downward movement with a trunk flexion: Concentrate on pulling with your trunk, not your arms (which are holding the cable). You have to see your arms merely as hooks connecting your trunk to the resistance.

    c) Resist the upward movement by keeping your abdominal flexed: When you go back up (eccentric portion), you must flex your abs all the more. Focus on keeping a tight stomach and a flat lower back.


    Exercise B2: Twisted cable crunches

    This exercise is very similar to the preceding one, except that we're going start the movement with the trunk turned one way and then twisting the other way while going down. This way, we can really focus on the development of the obliques.

    Superset B: Trunk strength

    B1. Cable crunches

    6-8 reps

    312 tempo (down in 2 seconds, 1 second pause, and back up in 3 seconds)


    B2. Twisted cable crunches

    6-8 reps per side

    312 tempo (down in 2 seconds, 1 second pause, and back up in 3 seconds)

    The weekly periodization is the same as for Superset A:

    Week 1: Repeat superset 3 times

    Week 2: Repeat superset 4 times

    Week 3: Repeat superset 3 times

    Week 4: Repeat superset 6 times

    Superset C: Trunk strength-endurance

    Intensity of work: low to moderate

    Volume of work: high

    Type of abdominal contraction: concentric and accentuated eccentric


    Exercise C1: Accentuated negative Swiss ball sit-ups

    This is a regular sit-up performed on a swiss ball. The difference is that you're going to lower your trunk back to the starting position (eccentric portion) by moving at a rhythm of approximately 1 inch per second, or a 15 second tempo on the way down! During those 15 seconds you must focus only on one thing: keeping your abs flexed as hard as humanly possible!


    Exercise C2: Accentuated negative leg raises (Marties)

    This is the best way to perform hanging-leg raises without having to buy special equipment. You simply use the hack squat machine to hold your self up. Another positive thing about using this apparatus is that instead of hanging freely, it supports your back, thus making the exercise much safer and more effective.

    We're once again going to accentuate the negative. To do so we're simply going to change the lever arm during the movement: for the concentric portion of the movement you bring your legs up with the knees flexed/tucked; during the eccentric portion of the movement you bring your legs down while fully extended.


    Superset C: Trunk strength-endurance

    C1. Accentuated negative swiss ball sit-ups

    Max reps in good form

    15-1-1 tempo (down in 15 seconds, 1 second pause and back up in 1 second)


    C2. Accentuated negative leg raises (Marties)

    Max reps in good form

    312 tempo (down in 3 seconds, 1 second pause and back up in 2 seconds)

    The weekly periodization is the same as for Supersets A and B:

    Week 1: Repeat superset 3 times

    Week 2: Repeat superset 4 times

    Week 3: Repeat superset 3 times

    Week 4: Repeat superset 6 times


    Concluding remark

    Abdominal work is different from other forms of training because only you can make the exercises effective; if you don't focus on fully flexing the abdominal muscles on every inch of every rep of every movement, you're selling yourself short! For an ab training regimen to produce optimal results you absolutely must flex your muscles at all times, there's no way around it.

    Now get outta' here and don't come back before you're babehound material!


    Christian Thibadeau's masterpiece, "The Black Book of Training Secrets," is now available at the Biotest Store.
    Last edited by BigGreen; 07-21-2003 at 07:46 PM.

  2. #2
    BigGreen's Avatar
    BigGreen is offline Anabolic Member
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    If one thing is to be taken away from that article, it's most certainly, in my opinion, the notion of keeping your abs contracted throughout the movement. In my experience, one of the easiest ways to do this (and most effective) is to imagine throughout the entirety of the movement that you're pulling your bellybutton towards your spine.

    If you want to see the article along with illustrations, here's the link:
    http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/267ab.jsp

  3. #3
    HiFi's Avatar
    HiFi is offline Associate Member
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    [you say keep the abs contracted thru the whole movement, you mean to actually keep pushing your stomach outwards thru the movement.. almost as if you are flexing the muscle?

    id like to try that workout except it seems hard to keep the proper form.. plus i dont know if my gym has that beach ball there

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