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The Big Book of Abs
By Bill Geiger, Michael Darter, Ralph Dehaan, Sarah A. Friedman, Bob Gardner, James Georgopoulos Hacob, John Kelly, Brian Leatart, Blake Little, Ian Logan, Joaquin Palting, Roni Ramos, Robert Reiff, Isabel Snyder, Cory Sorensen, Ian Spanier, Greg Zabilsky, Bryan Allen, Geoffrey Grahn, Ron Guastaferri, Eddie Guy, Bill Rieser
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2007 Weider Publications, LLC
All rights reserved.
Finding Your Motivation
STRONG ABS ARE CRITICAL, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR REASON FOR WANTING THEM
Admit it — you want a strong and lean set of abs because, well, they look good. Who wouldn't want to peel off his shirt at the beach and show off the hallmark of a great body? In fact, more people say they want a tight six-pack
over any other bodypart. And no wonder: Abdominal fat cells happily inflate to accommodate more food intake, widening your waist inch by inch. Put the blame on one too many Krispy Kremes, but spare a little for your genetics. "There is an inherited component to this kind of fat," explains Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Weight Management Center. "But having a genetic predisposition to gain weight doesn't destine you to be obese, only to possibly struggle more with your weight."
Both exercise and a healthy diet are key to abdominal fat loss. "In the long run, it's really hard to cut out enough calories [to lose weight] without exercising," says Fernstrom.
Losing the belly is critical for both your appearance and your health. And we could list a few more reasons you should work your abs — to protect your lower back from pain, improve your posture and to excel at sports are just three of many.
Even if you don't plan to bare your washboard abs, you need strong abdominal muscles for good posture to not just look good but to avoid painful structural problems that can become permanent and possibly debilitating if not corrected in time. Strong abs can bear up to 40% of the weight of the spine. Weak abs provide less internal support for the lower back and let the pelvis tilt back, throwing you out of alignment and straining your lower back. Out-of-shape abs can force the low- back muscles to work overtime in a variety of activities, often triggering backaches and pain.
If you play sports, even recreationally, strong abs will help your performance — guaranteed. This can be seen in such activities as:
When you throw a baseball or football for maximum distance or speed, the main ab muscle, the rectus abdominis, contracts with great force to whip the upper body forward, and the internal and external obliques (located on each side of the rectus abdominis) help rotate the corresponding shoulder forward.
When throwing or hitting an opponent in the martial arts, especially judo and some forms of karate, the internal and external obliques help rotate the shoulders to produce force. The rectus abdominis comes into play when throwing an opponent over your body.
In hitting sports such as golf, boxing and baseball batting, the internal and external obliques rotate the torso (shoulders). The muscles are most effective when the hips are first rotated forward to stretch the obliques.
Ultimately, individuals bring different motivations to the table — be it health, sports performance or just looking great without a shirt — when they decide to redefine their midsection. Whatever yours is, now you've got a game plan to get you there.
Anatomy of Your Midsection
A BRIEF TUTORIAL ON THE MUSCLE STRUCTURE OF YOUR ABDOMINAL REGION
The muscle group most commonly referred to as the abs is composed of four separate muscles — the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis. These muscles support and assist in moving the torso through various motions, including trunk flexion and rotation. By understanding how each abdominal muscle functions, you 'll be able to work your abs properly and in the most efficient manner to develop this bodypart to its full potential.
Abs & Your Genetics
YOUR PARENTS' BODYTYPES MATTER, BUT ANYONE CAN ACHIEVE RESULTS
Two guys follow the same ab workout and diet, but one is ripped and the other is a little soft around the middle. Is that unfortunate guy genetically doomed to a life without the vaunted six-pack?
It's true that every individual has a personal muscle structure that plays a key role in development of his or her midsection. It's also true that everyone adapts a little differently to training, so what works wonders for one person may do very little for another.
Some people are born with the genetic factors necessary for awe-inspiring ab development, and some people have to work much harder for a lot less. But while not everyone can sport a perfect six-pack, just about everyone can build a more pleasing, athletic-looking physique with a sensible program.
If you train and train and just can't seem to bring out your abs, the problem could be due to several factors: bodyfat levels, proper exercise selection, even performing the right number of repetitions. The key to maximizing your genetic potential is to determine what rep ranges develop your abs and how to manipulate your diet to drop bodyfat.
We're now learning that having a high amount of bodyfat has a genetic component. We know that the composition of your muscle fibers relates to genetics as well. So do individual hormone levels. Studies have also shown that the ratio of fast- to slow-twitch muscle fibers (something you can't control), along with your sensitivity to insulin, may impact the jiggle around your middle.
So, yes, genetics is a governing factor for success in developing that rock-hard six-pack. Understanding your genetics will enable you to customize your workouts and eating program. If you set goals realistic to your bodytype and stay consistent with your training and diet, you'll find that you can still make vast improvements, no matter what your parents gave you.
21 WAYS TO OVERCOME MENTAL OBSTACLES TO GETTING AND STAYING FIT
We know that lots of things can stand in the way of your desire to get fit and turn regular workouts into a permanent fixture in your life. Fortunately, for each of these problems there are relatively simple solutions. Here are 21 ways to break down the most common mental barriers to a consistent, successful workout program and become the kind of guy who gets fit and stays there.
Fitness Barrier: Missing Motivation
If you're having trouble keeping your fitness plan going, this is most likely issue No. 1. "For most people, motivation is the primary obstacle to beginning and continuing an exercise program," says Jay Kimiecik, associate professor in health promotion at Miami University of Ohio and the author of The Intrinsic Exerciser. "In my experience doing research and interviewing 'exercise maintainers,' I've learned that the people who are successful develop a strong enough passion for movement that they overcome the motivational obstacles others fall prey to. You really need to make a connection with the experience you have with moving your body."
[BREAK ON THROUGH]
1) Decide on your goals
Do you want to bring out your six-pack, lose bodyfat, gain muscle, look better, be healthier, live longer, be a stronger competitor in sports — or any combination of those goals? Until someone invents a magic pill, regular exercise is the only clear route to all of them.
2) Learn to enjoy the feeling of exercise
You can learn to take satisfaction from the work your muscles are doing — just as you do when playing any sport — by being aware of the effort you're giving and the progress you're making in the gym. The endorphins don't hurt, either.
3) Focus on the challenge
Working out allows you to learn new skills, progress toward new objectives and gain mastery over your body. After every exercise session, congratulate yourself on achieving something now and taking another step toward your goal.
4) Have fun with your friends
You can make exercise a social event by f working out with the guys (or girls). A competitive spirit will likely permeate the group, which will help you work harder and put on muscle quickly. Or you can train separately and get together with your buddies afterward for, say, a post-workout meal.
5) Hire a personal trainer to work with you
Even if you only meet with him or her occasionally, a trainer will help you put more into your workouts without injury, and having to pay for the privilege will spur you to keep exercising between sessions. You'll also learn new ways to approach your training — a good thing for preventing the staleness that accompanies doing the same old thing.
6) Pump up your energy
Instead of just dragging yourself to the gym, f do something enjoyable to get yourself "up" before your workout, such as listening to fast music or taking a brisk run outdoors.
7) Make it a game
Take up a sport you enjoy and use your training to help you become a more effective competitor. You'll probably discover that gaining strength and stamina is enjoyable for its own sake.
Fitness Barrier: Wanting to Quit
There's a reason health clubs are packed in January and half empty in March: People get excited by the concept of becoming fit, but often don't follow through when it turns into a day-to-day task that requires actually doing something about it. But while most individuals start to enjoy working out once they've made it part of their routine, many don't even get that far. "I don't think people really get hooked on exercise until they've done it for a while," says Daniel M. Landers, PhD, regent's professor in the department of kinesiology at Arizona State University (Tempe). The point, then, is to get past those first few months.
[BREAK ON THROUGH]
8 Hold yourself to a time commitment
When you start a new program, promise yourself you absolutely aren't going to quit for three months, the usual length of time it takes to turn your wish into commitment. By then, you'll have started experiencing some physical and psychological benefits, and you're more likely to keep going than you would be if you'd stopped after a month.
9) Create a reward system
Do something that feels good following an exercise session, such as getting a world-class massage. Eventually, the enjoyment that comes from exercising regularly will become a reward in itself. The massage may become part of the ritual, too.
10 Don't get down on yourself The first time
you have an impulse to quit or miss a workout, don't beat yourself up over it. Instead, try to reconnect with the feeling of accomplishment you had when you started working out and the sense of self-mastery that comes from taking steps toward your goals.
11) Don't let a missed workout spell the end
Every time you miss a session, immediately plan a new one — for the next day, if possible. Remember, it's easier to get back on the mental track by making up one missed workout than it is after missing five of them.
12) Go back over your original set of goals
People who bail on a workout program conveniently allow themselves to forget why they started it in the first place. Don't let this happen to you.
13) Think of exercise as a lifelong habit
Don't think of it as an instant cure-all. If you want to be ambulatory at 85, not just have great abs in your 30s, exercise must have a permanent berth in your weekly schedule and be a priority throughout your life.
14) Don't get discouraged
I Your progress may seem slow, but no one goes from schlub to hardbody in a couple of months. You'll never get there if you give up now. Plan your growth in increments, and congratulate yourself for the progress you make at every step.
15) Don't let impatience lead to overexercising
If you're tempted to work out too long or too often to speed things up, don't. Overexercising can quickly lead to overtraining syndrome and injury, and it won't make your muscles grow any faster. Keep in mind that rest, recovery and proper nutrition between workouts are the keys to fitness and a great-looking body.
Fitness Barrier: Adhering to an Unfit Lifestyle
Going to the gym for an hour is a great start, but what about the rest of the day? The individuals who are successful in a fitness program and who stick with it over the long haul are the ones who live fit lives. "The more you can get yourself to exercise and the more others around you respond to that, the stronger your 'exercise identity' becomes," says Dean Anderson, PhD, a sports sociologist and a professor in the department of health and human performance at Iowa State University (Ames). "And the more committed you become to thinking of yourself that way, the more likely you are to stick with it."
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16) Get other people on your side
Let your friends and family know you're working out so they can encourage you to stick with it (and razz you if you don't).
17) Go shopping
Buying all the gym equipment and clothes you need will keep you thinking of yourself as an exerciser — but remember, no spandex. Of course, don't go whole hog on the expense side; start with what you need immediately, then add to it as you progress.
18) Junk the junk food
Stocking your larder with lean protein, fresh produce and complex carbs — beer doesn't qualify — will keep you energized and help you get the greatest benefit W from your workouts. It'll also help you think of your body as a temple, not the Temple of Doom.
19) Stop smoking, drinking too much and staying out late
Tobacco destroys your cardiovascular system, drinking dehydrates you and lack of sleep keeps you from producing enough of those muscle- building hormones. But beyond that, when you party every night, you miss out on that great feeling of being fit and healthy that exercise will bring you if you let it.
20) Feel the confidence
When you work out regularly, you end up boosting your self-image. That's not just because you start to look better, but also because you're accomplishing something with visible results every week.
21) Get physical all the time
What's the point of becoming fit if you're still going to hang out on the couch all day? Start discovering the physical benefits of being in good condition, from sports to hiking and camping outdoors to better sex. Once you've learned how much more fun your life can be, you'll never want to go back.CHAPTER 2
Great Abs in Five Weeks
WANT A MODEL MIDSECTION? IT'S TIME TO STOP DREAMING AND START DOING
Here's your starting point if you've lost your love for your love handles, are apprehensive about taking your shirt off at the beach, or you suck in your gut every time you look in the mirror. This five-week program is your guide to finally dropping the fat and creating the body you've always wanted.
[ITS THREE COMPONENTS INCLUDE]
Three times per week, you'll do the workout listed, which should take 10–15 minutes. Each week you graduate to a slightly more difficult routine. In each workout, you do the lower-abdominal exercise first, then move to an oblique exercise, and finally to an upper- abdominal move. As you progress, some of the exercises will hit more than one area of the abs.
Since each workout is designed to be a bit more challenging than the previous week's, you'll gain strength and enhance your fitness over the course of the five weeks. Take at least 48 hours rest between workouts before hitting your abs again. If the movements in the five-week program are too difficult, repeat the previous week's exercises, striving to do more reps in each successive workout to build strength. Go to the next week's exercises as soon as you feel you've gained sufficient strength, when you can complete about 12 reps with good form. If the movements are too easy, go to the next week's exercises. If those are still too easy, you can substitute advanced variations from the chapter that covers ab exercises.
Add this program to your current resistance-training program if you currently have one. Though it's not critical, weight training is a good idea because it helps burn calories, increases lean muscle tissue and will help you reach your goals much faster.
Starting on page 32, we provide a variety of cardio workouts that you should perform 3–4 times a week to speed up fat loss. Do these concurrently with your ab training. The cardio workouts can be done indoors or out, and increase in duration and intensity over the course of the five weeks so that you're improving your fitness level while increasing fat loss.
On page 36, we present a five-week diet that builds on itself so you can easily make the transition to eating healthier, low-fat foods. We also offer food choices for your meals to help you get your diet in gear, fuel your metabolism and help peel away the layers of bodyfat in a gradual, almost painless fashion.
The ab exercises strengthen and tone the midsection, while the cardio and diet help burn away bodyfat. Skip one component and you may still see some results, but optimal progress can come only from consistency in all three areas. The choice is yours!
Excerpted from The Big Book of Abs by Bill Geiger, Michael Darter, Ralph Dehaan, Sarah A. Friedman, Bob Gardner, James Georgopoulos Hacob, John Kelly, Brian Leatart, Blake Little, Ian Logan, Joaquin Palting, Roni Ramos, Robert Reiff, Isabel Snyder, Cory Sorensen, Ian Spanier, Greg Zabilsky, Bryan Allen, Geoffrey Grahn, Ron Guastaferri, Eddie Guy, Bill Rieser. Copyright © 2007 Weider Publications, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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