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Abdominal Routine, Guaranteed Results!

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Its no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, "what can I do to work my abs with more intensity?" I decided to give you an abdominal routine that will strengthen and harden your abs without my usual anatomy lesson. Just the routine! Hard core and no nonsense!

First, let’s get one thing clear. If you want your abs to be visible, or if you want the legendary six pack, then you must reduce overall body fat, including abdominal fat! There is no other way to get the washboard look. This is accomplished through a nutrition program that places you in a slight caloric deficit, includes weight training to stimulate the metabolism and incorporates supplemental cardio to burn additional calories. Hammer this concept deep!

If you already know this and want a routine that is effective and produces results, then you’ve come to the right place!

After providing a description of each exercise and an explanation, I will tell you exactly how I want you to perform it as well as how frequently. The key to any exercise is not the actual movement, but the level of intensity that you give it. That’s another point you want to hammer in.

Ab Exercise Descriptions and Explanations

1. REVERSE AB CURL

Reverse Ab Curl Lie on the floor with your back relaxed and your hands on the floor by your hips. Keep the upper back pressed into the floor throughout the exercise. Contracting your abs, raise your butt and gently roll your hips off the floor -- stopping when you feel a full contraction of the abdominals and can no longer lift your hips. Slowly return to the starting position. Exhale while lifting your hips and inhale while returning to the starting position.

This exercise is for the lower abdominal. I’m always amazed by how many people start their ab routine with some sort of a crunch movement for the upper abs. Yet, most of the complaints I receive pertain to the lower portion of the abs. In this case, we start with the hardest exercise.

2. DOUBLE CRUNCH

Lie on the floor face up. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45-degree angle with both feet on the floor. Your back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor.

Place both hands crossed gently over your chest. Contracting your abdominals, raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another. Crunch hard and tight! I want you to hold the contraction at the top of the movement for one second. Slowly return to the starting position -- stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor. Exhale while rising up and inhale while returning to the starting position. Keep your eyes on the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck. This exercise will affect both the upper and lower abs with more of a focus on the upper area.

3. INCLINE BENCH LEG RAISES

Incline Bench Leg Raises Now, we return to the lower abs! Lie on an incline bench and stabilize your body by gripping the bench above your head with your legs extended out -- but do not lock your knees. Contracting the lower abs, raise your legs up until your hips form a 90-degree angle. Slowly return to the starting position -- stopping just short of your legs touching the bench. Exhale while lifting your legs and inhale while returning to the starting position. Point your chin toward the ceiling to avoid using your upper body. To increase the difficulty, cross your arms over your chest. If you have a bad back don't perform this movement!

4. CABLE KNEELING ROPE CRUNCH

Cable Kneeling Rope Crunch Back to the upper abs! If you have never performed this movement, you are in for a treat. It works the abs great and is easy on the lower back. Kneel in front of the cable machine with your body facing the machine. Hold a rope attached to the upper cable attachment, and keep your elbows in. Contracting the abdominals, curl your body downward toward your legs -- stopping when you have reached a full contraction of your abdominals.

Slowly return to the starting position -- stopping just short of the weight stack touching. Exhale while lifting the weight and curling down. Inhale while returning to the starting position.

5. ABDOMINAL VACUUM

This exercise works the transversus abdominis. It will help pull your stomach in, creating more of a flat look! It’s easy and it works. In a seated position, exhale all the air from your lungs. After completely exhaling, pull the abdomen inward and hold for 20-30 seconds. Continue to breathe lightly through your nostrils, but make sure you are pulling your abs in as if you are attempting to make your abs and back touch.

EXECUTION:

For two weeks, perform each movement slowly and at your own pace. Try for 15 reps on each exercise and take your time moving from one exercise to the next. Perform only one cycle. A cycle is defined as performing all the exercises for one set each.

After two weeks, perform each movement in succession (so that when you finish with one exercise for 15 reps you go directly to the next exercise without stopping). Don’t worry if you can’t get 15 reps. The key is to keep the intensity level high and a constant contraction on the abs. As you progress, you will be amazed at how many reps you can perform and how hard and tight your abs get.

After one entire cycle, rest for a minute and then repeat. Do as many as possible, even if it’s only a few by the last exercise. If you are a beginner, then I recommend that you only perform exercises 1, 2 and 5. For all others, perform three total cycles and expect to be challenged! Perform the routine 2-3 days a week and never two days in a row.

That’s it! You asked for a challenging ab workout and now you have one. Remember to work hard and intensely but always use perfect form.

A competitive bodybuilder and former 2001 Mr. Connecticut, the author, Raphael Calzadilla, B. A., ACE, RTS1, is a veteran of the health and fitness industry who specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training.

He earned his B.A. in Communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.

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