If there is a single universal want shared by the whole of humanity, it is a great set of abs. Not generic standard abs, but washboard abs. Chris Hemsworth kicking ass on the big screen has abs. The fitness models you look up to have abs. Ripped Greek statues, thousands of years old, look down on you in judgement at your pathetic lack of abs. “Doth thou even lift, brethren?” says Michelangelo’s David (He doesn’t, but he should).
Anyway, its all about abs – abs, abs, abs.
And exercise alone will not lead to the stomach of your dreams. Yes, exercise will develop your stomach muscles, but your abs will still be hidden behind layers of fat and regret. The first key to washboard abs is diet – so put the cheeseburger down. For men, abs start peeking through around 15% bodyfat, are nicely visible at 12% and start to rise to their full glory at 10%. So, stop eating.
The next step is training. Abs training creates hypertrophy which will make your abs stand out more (after the fat has melted away of course).
The stomach is made up of four major muscle groups:
• Rectus abdominis (The classic six pack muscles)
• External abdominal oblique (The surface muscles that look like funnels in ripped individuals)
• Internal abdominal obliques and the transverse abdominis – You will never see these 2 muscles; they are internal and support the external muscles and the spine.
The exercises which activate these muscles the most (as per EMG readings), are as follows:
1. Chin up
2. Hanging leg raise
3. Swiss ball crunch
1. Ab wheel from feet
3. Tornado ball slam
1. Turkish get up
2. Hanging leg raise
1. Kneeling cable lift
2. Tornado ball slam
3. Lumbar extension
No sit ups? Surprise, surprise. Sit ups and crunches have garnered the rancour of fitness pros over the years, as there are many exercises that are far more beneficial for ab development. The chin up might be a surprising feature but the abs work damn hard to stabilize the torse during the eccentric and concentric portion of the movement. The hanging leg raise is a top exercise for abs and should be considered in any program. The ab wheel is also very effective – whether performed on the knees or standing.