Most guys spend at least some portion of their high school years chasing after the vaunted six pack and having “ripped” abs. Most do this because they think it is the key to getting girls. While misled the truth of the matter is that your abs play a very important role in how your body functions but unfortunately are not the holy grail to getting laid like tile. Other things are. Regardless for sports and generally well-being you abdominal muscles development is very important.
Whether you are swinging an ax, throwing a punch, or going for a double legged take down your abdominal muscles or “abs” have a huge role to play. You see your abs tie your body together which is why they are called the core. Because they transfer power throughout your body. An athlete with weak abs is going to have a lot of “power leaks” so to speak and end up generating a lot less force than could. Whether your tackling, hitting, or being hit his abs your abs have an important role to play in how the end is going to look. Either your opponent on the ground or you.
Now with that being said crunches and such aren’t going to do shit for your abs and won’t accomplish much other than wasting your time. Which is never acceptable for a man with value. Here are ab exercises that actually get the job done.
Exercise #1 – The Ab Wheel
The ab wheel is not new though it has seen a resurgence of use as of late. The ab wheel while a simple device can be very punishing. Usually I would recommend against using body weight only movements for developing yourself because of their limited nature (unless doing more and more advanced acrobatic stuff) but the ab wheel is a major exception. The ab wheel can be used by anyone from novice to advanced trainees and is great for developing a rock solid core.
The ab wheel is simple. You kneel on the ground (usually with some padding underneath) grab the handles on the wheel and “push” them forward extending your arms out in front of you. Then before your stomach touches the ground you retract and bring it back to the starting position. Simple enough right? Don’t let the simplicity fool you this is a tough exercise. I would recommend starting with three sets of twelve and eventually moving to five sets of ten. Once you master that try doing it from a standing position.
Exercise #2 – Full Contact Twists
This exercise has been used by fighters for developing punching power and is very effective. While nothing beats throwing a punch into the heavy bag for developing your punching power the full contact twist certainly has a role to play in any fighter’s training. The full contact twist requires a barbell and a plate. What you do is shove one end of the barbell into a corner unloaded. Then you throw on a plate on the other side. You then grab the barbell by the sleeve (the part the weights slide on to) and bring it over your head with your arms extended.
You then lower the barbell first to one side and then the other. You power it to about mid thigh level turning into it and then bring it back to the center then you lower it down to the other side and bring it back to the center. Here is a video that will simplify things greatly. This is generally done for about three sets of twelve reps. I’ve also done it with heavy weight for low reps (three sets of three reps) and that has made a difference in power development. Either way be sure to include these in your “ab workouts”.
Exercise #3 – Cable Crunches
A favorite of Westside Barbell and great for athletes and anyone else who has to use their abs (aka all of us). One thing I love about cable crunches is the mass amount of weight that can be used. Not just for ego reasons but because once it gets easy you can just add more weight unlike many ab exercises where you have to sit there and do hundreds before you even begin to feel anything. Boring and poor time management.
Cable crunches are easy to set up. Simple attach a rope attachment to an overhead cable station. Select the weight and turn away from the machine. Grab the rope right above the knots (at least that’s what I do) put your feet a few steps back and lean forward essentially doing a standing crunch. Again here is an example for clarification (she kneels which another way to do it). I do these for five sets of ten or low reps doing sets of three until I tire out.
Now you have effective ab exercises that aren’t going to take hours and are actually going to make you stronger in the process. There are more I could have listed but these three are more than enough to get you started and on your way. Remember your abs are a small part of your body and get worked during heavy lifts such as overhead presses, squats, and deadlifts. Which make up the majority of a good lifting program. Throw only one of these in at the end of your workout and gradually progress.
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