Toning Up Your Abs -Part I
By Marc David
What You Really Need to Know About Abdominals:
Two Key Concepts You Must Meet to Let Out the 6 Pack
Introduction - Understanding the Abdominals
You are about to learn about a region of the body that almost everybody wants but somehow the secrets escape them. The weight loss industry may be a billion dollar a year market but a close second is all the late night infomercials about abs, 6 packs, 6 second abs and how to get ready for the beach and show off that region.
When it comes to abdominal training there are two basic areas of confusion. First, the myth exists that a 'specific' region exists like the 'lower abdominals.' Many people will claim their upper ab region is developing just fine but the lower abs are not responding to training. They are looking for a magic lower ab exercise that will target that region. If you do a search for any muscular images of the abdominals, it's clear that the rectus abdominus (a long winded name for the abs) is just a single muscle running from the sternum to the pelvis. These 'lower abdominals' simply don't exist.
The reason the lower region seems to be less responsive to training is that it is a natural fat storage area! Simply put, your entire ab region is probably responding to overall training but the lower region is simply not showing because it is covered up by a layer of fat. That area just happens to be the place that fat is the last to go. Very simply, the lower abdominal area is benefiting from your crunches and reverse crunches. The problem is, you just can't see it!
TEST: If you don't believe this then try this simple test: lie down on the floor in a typical crunch position. Place one hand on your lower abdominal area and the other on your upper abdominal area. Now perform a slowing crunching movement. You will feel both areas contract simultaneously as you curl up.
The second area of confusion revolves around exercise selection. Almost everybody still continues to perform hanging leg raises, knee-ups or similar exercises in an attempt to target the 'lower abs.' While these exercises do affect the abdominal area, they are not the best selection.
It's easy to clear up this exercise selection confusion if you understand the differences between the hip-flexion and trunk-flexion. A muscle called the psoas and related muscles (this is located deep against the spine) are responsible for hip-flexion while your abdominals are responsible for trunk-flexion.
Hip Flexion: Occurs when your lift your knee (or knees) towards your chest. For example, when you do a hanging knee-up, you will feel a burning sensation in the lower abdominal region (this alone convinces most people it's working that area). What is actually happening is the psoas is being stressed. You'll never be lean enough to see this muscle! Of course the abdominals are involved in this exercise for stabilization but it's not the primary muscle and so it's not the most effective. Other concerns revolve around the psoas being overworked that can lead to back problems.
Trunk Flexion: Occurs when you perform an exercise where the pelvis and sternum approach each other during the movement. At this point, you are in a state of maximal trunk flexion. Going any further and you'll engage the psoas muscle and you will be using hip-flexion (like in a full sit-up). When you train your abdominals you need to flex (or contact) your trunk.
FACT: For effective abdominal training, stick with trunk flexion movements (crunches and reverse crunches).
This series will focus on trunk flexion exercises so that tension is directly on the abdominals as that is the primary muscle we want to work.
That's all! The abdominals are just a muscle like everything else. There's nothing special about them that makes them any harder to obtain or develop then any other muscle group. Still, there are thousands of messages on community forums and fitness gurus everywhere get hundreds of messages a day regarding this. Not to mention the countless ab technology products that appear in stores every year promising a faster, easier way to get ripped abs. The purpose of this report is to tell you exactly step-by- step what you need to do to get ripped abdominals.
The Myths of Ripped Abdominals: - Countless crunches - Working them out every day - Strange machines or dangerous exercises - Fad diets - Fat burner pills - Marathon cardio sessions - Targeting lower and upper regions
The Secret of Ripped Abdominals: - Low percentage of body fat - Having the muscle to show
Did I just blow the end of the story for you? Hopefully not.
Key Concept #1: You Must Have a Low Percentage of Body Fat For starters, if you have a layer of body fat covering the region, you will never be able to show the abs. For men, this is the LAST place the fat will disappear from which makes it the hardest body part to show.
You "get abs" from reducing your body fat and you reduce body fat mostly through diet and cardio..
And yet, somehow this concept escapes people. In order for the abs to show proudly, you must have a low percentage of body fat! There's really not a whole lot more to it.
Men: 10% or lower Women: 15% or lower
Why is that so difficult for most people?
Simple. In order to get your body fat that low you must be absolutely focused on your diet and fat burning metabolism. 99% of people (including myself) are not as perfect on the diet as to burn off our natural body fat stores. So in order to get rid of that last layer, you must burn off the last remaining body fat stores. And to do that you must have great nutrition habits (above and beyond just being active).
Key Concept #2: You Must Have Abs to Show
If you are 110 lbs and just skin and bones and 3% body fat but no muscle really, then it's not a surprise why your abs aren't popping out every time you take off your shirt. There are a few people I've run across that are well below the 10% body fat limit and yet they are puzzled when their abdominals don't show. That's almost as easy as 1+1. You MUST have abs to show!
You can have a low body fat percentage but if you don't have anything to show, you'll just see a flat stomach (which is good) but no definition and certain no 'packs.' There are also individuals who have 15% body fat but their abs are so developed they can show off a 4-pack. While they don't have that low of a body fat percentage to classify as 'ripped' they do have great development and certainly the muscle is there. Just think what it might look like on them if they were to be 10% or lower?!
That's where ab exercises come into play. Performing key abdominal exercises is a key to developing the trunk region to the fullest. Many people are looking for the illusive lower ab exercise or performing exercises they believe to target a certain region but are really working the wrong muscle. Having abs is as simple as doing the right core exercises. That will be part of the 6 months of ab training at the end of this series.
Now that you understand some key concepts in order to get the abs to show, let's figure out how to eliminate that annoying layer of fat around them...
Stay tuned for Part 2 that will discuss why nutrition is 90% or More of Your Success.
About The Author
Marc David is an innovative fitness enthusiast and the creator of the The Beginner's Guide to Fitness And Bodybuilding" method on www.Beginning-Bodybuilding.com. He can show you how to reduce your body fat thru diet, how to gain weight or create more muscle thru an abundance of workout tips by training LESS! Not more. He dispels many "bodybuilding myths", tells you what most people never realize about nutrition, and what the drug companies DON'T WANT YOU to know. Go to: http://www.Beginning-Bodybuilding.com to find out more about The Beginner's Guide to Fitness And Bodybuilding
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