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You won’t run into a single individual who doesn’t want the classic “six pack” abs. Ripped, muscular, lean abs are right up there, if not higher on the list than huge, peaked biceps. A well-defined midsection is the hallmark of fitness; it is the benchmark of your level of leanness.
But what to do if those always sought after ripples of muscle are not yet visible? What principles can you apply to your training to finally help you down the path to your very own six pack? Although it is well known that diet has a paramount role in the outcome, there are certain training principles you can put into action to ensure success. Below are 20 key points to help you reach that goal.
1. Rectus abdominis: This is the coveted six pack. It is actually a single muscle separated by connective tissue that works to stretch and flex the rib cage and pelvis. Although it is a single muscle, most trainees like to split the area into upper and lower. The entire area is contracted during any exercise; however, you are able to stress the upper or lower abs with specialized training focusing on those specific areas.
2. Obliques: The internal and external obliques aid in the rotation of the torso – think twisting and crunching down. They are located on each side of the abdominal wall and give the tight appearance of the abs. Moves to target this area include twisted crunches, leg lifts and sit-ups, Russian twists and seated twists.
3. Upper abs: As noted earlier, although the entire abdominal wall is contracted for a given movement, it is possible to focus most of the stress on the upper region when warranted. For example, some upper ab moves that mainly flex down the rib cage include floor crunches and sit-ups, incline crunches, sit-ups, and ball crunches.
4. Lower abs: As with the upper region of the rectus abdominis, focused contraction of the lower region by pulling in the pelvis will help stress this area. Some examples of lower ab moves include straight leg and bent leg lifts, Roman chair raises, hanging leg raises, and bicycle crunches.
5. Transverse abdominis: This area has had a lot of press lately regarding training the core sufficiently. The transverse abdominis lies underneath the abdominal wall and wraps around either side of the torso. Its function includes providing thoracic and pelvic stability. Although it is stressed in almost all abdominal moves, it is especially important during static exercises such as planks, side planks and any other static hold exercise. It is also vitally important during many weight training moves.