Did you know that over 90% of all women and over 80% of all men
are dissatisfied with some aspect of their bodies? Of all of the
body parts and muscle groups, guess what the number one complaint
area is? By the title of this month’s newsletter, I’m sure the
answer won’t surprise you. Having a flatter stomach and ripped
midsection was at the top of the majority’s wish list.
Your abdominal area is your visual center. In studies of eye
movement, it is a fact that our eyes are drawn back to the middle
of any object we are looking at. On the human body, this means
that the main focus and visual emphasis is on the abdomen. So
remember, when you are in a bathing suit, no matter how
impressive your other body parts may be, peoples eyes spend more
time on your abs than any other region. Since men carry a large
supply of fat cells in this area compared to women, this type of
visual emphasis can be a scary thought for the male species!
This month’s newsletter is dedicated to show you several things
you can immediately incorporate into your diet and exercise
program to make your visual center more attractive this summer.
Let’s get started.
There is a lot of controversy and conflicting opinions on whether
or not you should use weight while training your abs. One school
of thought is that you should not use weight and just do more
repetitions. The reasoning behind this opinion is that if you
use weight, you will build muscle mass in your waist and it will
not be tapered. When you have a ripped, narrow waste it tends to
make your other body parts appear more impressive. Most
bodybuilders do not use weight in their ab training routine.
Another school of thought is that you should use weight to train
your abs. The reason for this opinion is the tiny increase in
the circumference of your waist is well worth the visual
improvement that incorporating weights into your ab exercises
will provide, and really helps you put the finishing touches on
your waist. If you chose to use weight in your ab program, use a
Other areas where there are conflicting opinions are how many
sets and reps of each exercise you should do, and how many times
a week you should train your waist. If you are a beginner who
has been training for at least one month, do three sets of each
exercise to muscle failure. Keep going until you feel the burn
and can’t do another rep. If you are at an intermediate or
advanced level, do four sets of each exercise to muscle failure.
Some people believe that abs can and should be trained every day
or every other day. I used to agree, but after reviewing some
pretty convincing research, I have to change my stance. Your abs
are a muscle, just like every other muscle group and need the
proper amount of rest and recovery for maximum results. Train
your abs twice a week like every other muscle group and give them
at least 72 hours rest before you train them again. For my
clients whose personalized program has them training waist three
times a week, cut it back to two for maximum results.
Your midsection is made up of four muscle groups, the rectus
abdominus, obliques, serratus, and intercostal muscles.
The rectus abdominus is the row of washbord-like muscles in the
center of your midsection. When someone talks about a six-pack
of abs, they are referring to well-defined rectus abdominus
muscles. The rectus abdominus is the primary muscle you use when
you are doing a sit-up or forward crunch. They pull your chest
towards your pelvis.
There are several great exercises you can use to train your
rectus abdominus. Like several other muscle groups including the
lats and pecs, certain exercises focus on the upper section of
the muscle group and certain exercises focus on the lower
One of the best exercises for the upper section of the rectus
abdominus is the forward crunch. Lie on your back with your
hands behind your head. Bend your knees up and put both feet
flat on the floor. Putting your legs in this position will
flatten your lumbar curve and take all the pressure of your lower
back. Next raise your head and shoulders off the floor, pulling
them towards your knees. Concentrate and focus on contracting
the upper section of your rectus abdominus muscle. This is a
short movement and you don’t want to come all the way up.
Through the entire exercise, your lower back should remain firmly
on the floor. Most gyms also have several exercise machines that
mimic the motion of the forward crunch and focus on those upper
rectus abdominus muscles.
Leg Raises are a great exercise for the lower rectus abdominus.
Leg raises can be done in a variety of positions including
sitting, hanging or lying on your back. Most gyms have a leg
raise chair or machine. If they don’t, lay on your back on the
lying hamstring machine, tuck your feet under the leg pads and
bring your knees up to your chest. This exercise can also be
done on the floor or on a sit-up board without using weight.
Another great exercise for the lower section of the RA is seated
leg tucks. This is a sitting variation of the leg raise. Sit at
the end of a weight bench with your knees bent and legs hanging
over the end. Bring your knees up toward your chest.
The obliques are the muscles that help you bend from side to side
and rotate the torso. When people speak about love handles, they
are usually speaking about fat deposits in the oblique area. A
great way to train your obliques is using side crunches on a
hyperextension bench. Tuck your feet and lower legs under the
leg pad so that your left hip is down and level with the top of
the hyperextension bench. Clasp your hands behind your head and
bend at the waist as far as you can towards the floor. Next
raise your upper body upwards as high as you can (pivoting at the
waist) and contract the muscles in your waist concentrating on
contracting the obliques on the right. Don’t forget to switch
positions and train the muscles on the left side.
You can train your serratus and intercostal muscles using a
modified version of the side crunch. Instead of pivoting at the
waist, use a shorter seesaw motion and pivot higher at the level
just below your armpit. This motion places a higher
concentration on the intercostal and serratus muscles, rather
than the obliques.
You can also train your obliques, intercostals, and serratus
using seated twists with a broomstick behind your neck. These
can be done on a hyperextension bench or sit-up board. Tuck your
feet under the lower leg pad, lean back at approximately a 45
degree angle and twist at the waist from side to side in a rotary
Hyperextensions are a great exercise to develop the muscles in
your lower back. They are much safer than Good Mornings using
free weight. The lower back is one of the most ignored muscle
groups when it comes to waist training, but the results
hyperextensions produce are well worth the extra effort. They
really help narrow your waist and finish the product.
To have a great waist your diet is also a big piece to the
puzzle. You can have rock hard, well developed abs, but if their
hidden underneath a layer of fat, they can’t be seen. No matter
how hard you train, your abs will never be visible and impressive
unless you get your body fat percentage low enough. A low fat,
calorie restricted diet will help finish the package and bring
Another great abdominal tool is the AbRoller. This neat piece of
equipment makes sure you are using proper form, takes the stress
of your lower back and can be purchased at any sporting goods
store for less than $100.00. Most gyms and health clubs have
several of them. The AbRoller comes with a videotape which shows
you exactly how to use it for forward crunches, leg lifts, and
side crunches. I personally use it and highly recommend it
especially if you are a novice or suffer with lower back pain.
Last but not least, there are many good ab specific exercise
video tapes like “8 Minute Abs” and “Abs Of Steel.” These
programs can all be done in the comfort of your own home – all
you need is a VCR. Many aerobic exercise tapes also have an ab
program at the end of the tape.
The following is a sample intermediate/advanced program for
training your waist:
Forward Crunches – 4 sets to muscle failure
Leg Raises – 4 sets to muscle failure
Side Crunches – 4 sets to muscle failure
Seated Twists – 4 sets to muscle failure
Hyperextensions – 4 sets to muscle failure