Friday, April 6, 2012

Hanging knee raises

These are identical to the hanging leg raises, except that your knees are fully bent, and you bring your knees all the way up to your chest while curling the pelvis up. This modification from the hanging leg raise basically reduces the amount of weight that you’re lifting making the exercise easier. If you cannot yet properly perform a hanging leg raise, this is the best exercise to progress towards that goal. Both hanging leg raises and hanging knee raises can also be done from training rings slung over a power rack or pull-up bar, which makes them even more effective and easier on your shoulders.
Lying leg thrusts
This is a two part exercise – a “halfway down” leg raise followed by a hip thrust. Start by lying on your back with your head and shoulders raised off of the floor, your hands (palms down) on the mat by your hips, and your legs at a 90° angle from the floor. Slowly lower your legs only half way to the floor to an angle of approximately 45° from the floor. Do not go all the way to the floor with the legs as this promotes an arched back and can put a lot of stress on the lumbar spine. From the 45° position, raise your legs back up to the 90° position. Once the legs are back at the 90° position (no further), thrust your hips off the floor. Decline board leg thrusts to do hanging knee raises as well.
This is essentially the same movement as the lying leg thrusts, however, by slightly changing the angle a little closer to vertical, it makes the movement a little more challenging. Just use one of the lower angle settings on the decline board, as that will be sufficient enough to make this exercise more challenging. Again, as with the lying leg thrusts, only lower your legs approximately half way down, before reversing the legs up to a 90° angle at the hips, and finishing with the upward hip thrust. Remember to keep your back from arching during this exercise as well. If you don’t have access to a decline board, simply substitute extra sets of lying leg thrusts in place of the decline board leg thrusts into the training program.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recommended Exercises

There are literally hundreds of different exercises you can do for ab training, and people are always looking for new ab exercises with the thought that you always need to have a new exercise to get continued results. This is not true. You can pretty much keep using the same core of effective exercises, and change the training variables over time to keep progressing. For instance, you can change the order of exercises, the amount of resistance, the volume of work (sets and reps), the rest periods, the rep speed, or even try a different angle of a certain exercise for variety.
Once you’ve become proficient at all of the exercises in this manual, you’ll eventually reach a point where you’re probably not going to add any more muscle to your abs (just like you would reach your peak level with any other muscle group), and as long as you’ve reduced your body fat to a sufficient level, you should be able to visibly see a nice ripped six-pack. That’s when things get even easier, because now that you’ve developed a nice set of abs, all you have to do is maintain them, and maintaining them is easier than building them up in the first place. Once you’ve reached that point, you can reduce your ab training to once a week just to maintain them. At that point, the only thing that will matter in terms of how your abs look will be whether you maintain a low body fat percentage or not.
I should also note that in order to maintain balanced muscular development in the “core”, you must also devote sufficient training to the lower back muscles as well as the abdominals and hip flexors. You will get plenty of lower back training to balance out the ab training if you follow the exercises presented in section 9, which is full of lower back strengthening exercises such as deadlifts, swings, and snatches.
Listed below are the ab exercises I recommend avoiding because they are either ineffectual or potentially harmful to the back due to excessive psoas recruitment and/or encouraging an arched back:
The Bad Exercises (avoid these)

Lying straight-legged leg raises (first 45° off of floor, one leg at a time or both)

Hanging leg raises with an arched back

Sit-ups with feet supported

Straight legged sit-ups

Any machine-based ab exercise

Any machine-based twisting exercise

Torso twists (they provide no resistance, nor burn many calories)
Now that we’ve listed the exercises I recommend avoiding, provided below are the exercises that should be focused on in order to best develop the abs and hip flexors, as they provide the most resistance and encourage proper body positioning:
The Good Exercises (focus on these)

Hanging leg raises (with hunched back)

Hanging knee raises (with hunched back)

Lying leg thrusts (hip thrusts)

Decline bench leg thrusts (hip thrusts)

Reverse crunches (crunching hips off floor)

Ab bicycles (alternating knees to elbows)

Ab scissors

Stability ball crunches (weighted for progression)

Bench crunches

Alternating (oblique) crunches

Weighted cable rope crunches (with hunched back)

Ab wheel

Stability ball hip flexion (knee tucks)

Abdominal vacuums (transversus abdominis development)
A Couple Surprisingly Killer Abs & Core Exercises

Front squats (mostly a leg drill, but requires extreme ab stabilization and strength)

Renegade dumbbell rows (combines incredible upper body work with amazing oblique and core stability work)