OK, before we get started I believe you need to have an understanding about your abs, how they work and what makes up your abs. Education is key with us. Why do think you know your ABC and your 123 so well? Education!
We all know about the “6 Pack” (rectus abdominus) but that’s only one part. We also have internal and external obliques and the transverse abdominal. There are a few more but these are the major ones that we will speak about.
Rectus abdominousRELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
This is essentially your 6 Pack and sits on top and the front of your abdominal area. This muscle originates in the pubis area and runs up the front of the stomach to the breastbones and 5th – 7th rib. This muscle flexes the trunk and stabilizes the pelvis.
These sit on the side of the trunk of the body and also flexes and laterally flexes the truck.
These muscles sit over the top of the internal obliques and carry out the same movement. Both internal and external assist each other when it comes to trunk rotation.
This is the deepest of all these abdominal muscles and makes up part of your CORE. It assists in rotation flexion and lateral flexion of the trunk also it stabilizes your pelvis and lower back. Now this is the muscle I want to start with, as I believe it the foundation to having a strong abdominal area.
You need a Rock Solid foundation!
How to work each of these muscles
This is the foundation to a great 6 Pack as it sits under the other abs it will help with the way you control your abdominal area i.e. have better control in pulling it in tight which will intern create a FLATTER abdomen.
Lets start with the transverse abdominus as this is our foundation to a great abdominal area.
My three favorite exercises for this area are:
Easy exercise: “The Vacuum” – this exercise can be done either standing sitting or even lying down. Start by exhaling fully, pull your stomach in as much as possible, then raise and expand your chest. Hold this position for as long as you can. You will have seen some bodybuilders do this. Frank Zane was famous for this. Check him out.
Intermediate exercise: “The Plan” – Top tip: be on your toes and tense your legs, abs and glutes together.
Advanced exercise: “Plank rotations” – start in the side plank position and take your top arm and reach through underneath your body reaching behind you.
Internal and external obliques
With these muscle groups, you need to be aware that they can grow very quickly and in turn give you a thick looking waist. Here are my favorite exercises to help strengthen them whilst maintaining a small waist.
My three favorite exercises are:
Easy exercise: “Seated barbell twists” – Top tip: pull your head up to the ceiling, contract your abs and squeeze your abs all the time. Avoid a bouncing movement, make it smooth.
Intermediate exercise: “Side jack knifes” – Top tip: Push your Hips forwards.
Advanced exercise: “Hanging windmills” – Top tip: Keep your abs contracted throughout by keeping your feet slightly in front of your body.
The 6 Pack (Rectus abdominis)
These are the stars of the show, the holy grail of abs.
My three favorite exercises are
Easy exercise: “the crunch” – Top tip: Keep the movement small
Intermediate exercise: “weighted cable crunch” – Top tip: Don’t go too heavy with the weight
Advanced exercise: “hanging leg raises” – Top tip: Flex your toes towards you body (Factoid – this is the one exercise that our mentor Rehan Jalali used to get Ben Aflecks abs in shape for the movie “The Town”).
So it is all well and good training the hell out of your abs, training what is under the hood if you like, BUT there are two other important areas you must focus on if you want that 6 Pack for summer.
70% of your abs are built in the kitchen. You need to rid your diet of foods that will not serve you.
CRAP – Carbonated drink, Refined sugars, Artificial addatives, Processed foods.
By eating clean and cutting out the sugar, salts created by processed foods in your diet your body are less likely to store fat and form that watery layer over your abs.
In addition you can also increase your cardio exercise to assist in the reduction of fat in your system, to stimulate thermogenesis in your fat cells, which will cause fat to be burnt off.
And finally – Stress levels
I hear you say how can stress affect my 6 Pack? Massively! We have four times as many cortisol receptors in our abdominal area so the more stressed we get the more cortisol our body releases.
Without going into to much detail cortisol and insulin work closely together, the more cortisol we have in our body the higher our insulin levels will be and this is what leads to us adding more and more fat to our body.
As I mentioned, with our abdominal area having four times more cortisol receptors in our abs, we will be covered before we know it.
So my five biggest tips in summary for creating the washboard abs you see on all the magazine covers are….
1. Clean up your diet
2. Reduce your stress levels
3. Increase your cardiovascular exercise
4. Work all three areas/muscles groups
5. Persist and give it time!
Connect with Expert Barry Ash.