Sunday, 27 January 2013

How to reveal your eight-pack.

Coax out your core

The eight muscles hiding beneath your belly rarely emerge in perfect unison –  Often it’s necessary to target the upper or lower abs with specific exercises in order to shore up your symmetry. "To get a well-defined eight-pack you must target all your abs with adequate loading and controlled tempos, rather than just going through the motions with the typical easy core movements," says personal trainer Scott H. Mendelson who recommends one session specifically targeting your abs each week.

Beginner – Swiss ball leg lower

Lay with your back on the ground. Keep a 20-degree bend in your knees and squeeze a Swiss ball between your ankles. Raise the ball up and down while keeping your lower back pressed into the floor. “The focus is placed on the lower portion of the ab muscles by using the legs as a lever and maintaining proper lower back postural alignment,” says Mendelson. Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
Too easy? Start using a weighted ball.

Advanced – Swiss ball garhammers

Place your upper back on a Swiss ball with your head off the ball and hold on to a sturdy object such as a squat rack with your outstretched arms. With a 30-degree bend in the knees, lift your legs as high as they can go and back down to the ground. “Imagine bringing your knees to your chest without forcing your head posture to change from the neutral position,” advises Mendelson. “The origin of the movement pattern will recruit the lower section of the abs.” Do 3 sets of 4-6 reps.
Too easy? Straighten your legs for added challenge. 

Target: upper abs

Beginner – Feet elevated crunch

Lie with your back on the ground and your ankles on a bench, with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your hands on your ears, and not the back of your head, so they are not involved with the movement. Lift up your torso in a straight line and hold the contraction on top for two seconds, then lower over three seconds to the ground with no pause between reps. “Elevating the feet forces the upper cross section of the abs to activate throughout the movement, minimising involvement of other sections,” says Mendelson. Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
Too easy? Hold a medicine ball over your forehead to add loading. Use a 3 second contraction on top.

Advanced – Loaded Swiss ball crunch

Position the middle of your back on the Swiss ball with your feet firmly planted into the floor. Hold a weighted ball over your forehead and perform a crunch movement. “Do not flex your neck and aim to push the ball up with outstretched arms to expand the range of motion,” says Mendelson. Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
Too easy? Hold the ball with outstretched arms behind your head to reduce leverage.
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