Oh no! Not another ab article. You must be kidding. That's the stuff you find in those wimpy fitness mags which have titles like "Trim Down and Tone Up By Summertime!" They're everywhere -- every month. You would think that nobody had ever heard of a sit up before. That's what it comes down to, you know. Every ab exercise is just a variation of the sit up or leg raise. How else can they move? The abdominals are "stabilizing" muscles with a limited range. They "assist" in pulling the trunk forward and "assist" in raising the legs upward. That's the problem. The movement involved in sit ups, or crunches, as well as leg raises are so indirect. The psoas muscles of the upper quadricep are the primary movers in a leg raise. Sit ups are better, but they are usually employed with so much momentum that the rectus abdominals are hardly working. The lower back tends to fatigue (due to the constant stretching) before the abs get a good workout when doing high rep sit ups. I won't even address those ridiculous "abercisers" that attempt to circumvent the neck strain by providing a head rest that winds up pulling your head into a more severely unnatural position.

It's no wonder that most bodybuilders hate doing ab work. It's so unsatisfying. For one thing, there's no pump. The abs are also a very shallow muscle group (which negates the theory that they can get too big. Big bellies are not due to overly muscular abdominals). Much like the calve muscle, they consist of tiny slow twitch, red muscle fibers. You know, the kind that "burn" so badly when stressed. Also, like the calves, abdominal development is mostly determined by genetics and are the least receptive to exercise. That's a lousy combination, isn't it? No fun to work and the slowest to grow. Aaah, let's do chest again.

Hold on. Keep in mind that the abs are the "showpiece" of your body. You can be muscular beyond belief but if your abs are soft, to most people you're just a big fat guy. But someone with an average physique and killin' abs can look spectacular! A good example would be Frank Zane circa 1979. Frank was all of 180 pounds! Without that granite-like muscularity, coupled with diamond sharp abs, Frank would look like any of thousands of guys who work out. Instead, he was Mr. Olympia three times in a row and deservedly so. If you don't think so, I'd like to take a look at your abs!

Since abdominal development (or lack thereof) is genetically determined and sit up and leg raise movements are ineffective, what can be done? Glad you asked. What I'd like to describe to you is a very unusual movement. In fact, there isn't very much "movement" involved at all. That's the key. The abdominals are stressed most severely when attempting to "stabilize" since that's their function. This means that they respond to contraction, not movement. To some, this may seem too passive. You know, the guys who might say; "I do 500 sit ups with a 45 pound plate behind my head!" Well, if you think you've got strong abs, get down on the floor and check this out!

While in a seated position, bend your knees and bring the feet in so they are about 10-12 inches from your body. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Hunch your torso forward, tuck your chin into your chest, and hold your hands on the outsides of your knees. Now lean back while maintaining a hunched position until your arms are completely extended (still holding on to the outsides of your knees). At this point, let go of your knees and extend the arms forward. Are you feeling the strain in your abs yet? If you are like most people, there will be a tendency to start falling backward. This is due to the fact that only the abs are involved in maintaining your balance and the usual "helpers" like the hip flexors are excluded from the equation. It's now time to generate some serious punishment. Slowly raise the arms so that they are pointing directly overhead (keeping the body hunched forward). Can't be done you say? And I thought you were strong! If this is too intense, extend the feet outward until you can maintain balance. As you get stronger you can bring the feet in closer. Hold the outstretched arms above for 10 seconds. This is considered one rep. Slowly bring them down and just as slowly, allow the torso to come up to the original position. Rest for 10 seconds. Once again, slowly lean back and repeat the movement. Ten "reps" performed correctly will be one hell of a vicious set. The number of sets performed are up to you. It would be fair to say that after 10 minutes of this type of training, your abs will be screaming for mercy. How badly do you want it?

Abs are stubborn. Fat loves to hang around the waistline. (Why can't excess fat develop around the biceps instead? I can deal with that.) Perform this routine on days when you aren't working any other bodypart. Ab work should not be an "afterthought." Hit them hard as you would legs or chest. After a couple of weeks, you may start seeing definition in your abdominal region you never thought possible. Once you've achieved more muscularity and less fat, it will be easier to maintain. You'll feel better and improve your overall look 1000%. And the babes won't complain either.