Ronnie Coleman: Cost of Redemption
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Intro to Ab training Exercise Index Abs Introduction to Abs Training

The Muscles of the Abdomen

(1) Rectus Abdominis: A long muscle extending along the length of the ventral aspect of the abdomen. It originates in the area of the pubis and inserts into the cartilage of the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs.

Function: To flex the spinal column and to draw the sternum toward the pelvis

(2) External Obliques (Obliques externus abdominis): The external obliques at each side of the torso attached to the lower eight ribs and insterting at the side of the pelvis.

Function: To flex and rotate the spinal column.

(3) Intercostals: The intercostals are two thin planes of muscular and tendon fibers occupying the spaces between the ribs.

Function: To lift the ribs and draw them together.

Training the Abdominals

Few things are as attractive as a trim, lean midsection. The coveted six pack is well within your range to achieve if you follow the right workout program and include the right exercises.

There are three muscle groups in the abdominals (as described above), and each serves a different function as well as requiring different exercises to highlight them properly. The rectus abdominis is the wall of muscle that covers the front of the abdomen and gives your abs that washboard look. The second important muscle group is the obliques at the sides of the hips. This group is sometimes called the external obliques. The final, and most specific portion of the abdomen in terms of bodybuilding is the intercostals, which run from the top of your obliques up to the serratus muscles of your chest. Training each of these groups can be achieved through following a specific set of exercises for each.

The Rectus Abdominis - Divided into upper and lower abs.

Lower Abs

  • Leg Raises
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Hanging Frog Kicks
Upper Abs
  • Floor Crunches
  • Rope and Cable Crunches
  • Machine Crunches
  • Roman Chairs

The obliques, like many other small muscle groups, act to stabilize exercises for larger muscle groups and are worked indirectly very often as a result of that. Overdeveloped obliques tend to make for a "blocky" look by making the waist appear thicker than it actually is. If you would like to work your obliques directly, there is a list of exercises below which will help you to achieve your goals:

  • Side Twists with Pole
  • Dumbbell Side Bends

The serratus muscles are developed through crunching movement which occurs when you squeeze the shoulder down and in, and when you bend the torso from side to side. Like the obliques, the serratus muscles are often developed indirectly through a variety of other exercises. By adding a twisting movement to your crunches, you will place more emphasis on the serratus muscles. The exercises below will help you to develop your oblique muscles:

  • Side Bends
  • Any crunching movement with a 'twist'

Tips for Achieving Abdominal Development

One important thing to remember is that abs are made in the kitchen - not in the weightroom. Although training is very important for achieving abdominal development, even more important is proper nutrition. A high protein, moderate fat, low carbohydrate diet is necessary if you hope to achieve that coveted six pack. Nutrition is extremely important in bodybuilding, and being diet conscience is probably most important to getting cut up abdominals than any other muscle group. Some people, through mere dieting alone, can get their abs to poke out. Training will develop them to make them strong and muscular, but the only way to shed the fat off is to maintain a healthy diet.


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