Grin and Bare Abs

If you want to build a serious set of abdominals, routinely perform weighted pull-ups and dips. These multi-joint movements require a strong contribution from the abdominals to stabilize the core, particularly when heavy loads are used. It’s not uncommon to hear people complain of abdominal soreness a day or two after performing them. Done with a decent weight and strict form, these upper body movements tap into midsection fibers that you never thought existed!

Your abs act as a natural girdle, or weight belt if you will, when performing all exercises, particularly compound movements like squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses (especially overhead presses), but don’t overlook the value of pull-ups and dips where the abdominal muscles act as a bridge between your upper and lower body and are heavily recruited as stabilizers.

Isolation exercises like pullovers, curls, and triceps pressdowns also require a good degree of core stability; however, the loads used are often low compared to the big movements mentioned above, but isolation becomes virtually impossible if large loads are used… and, in many cases, the tension developed in the stabilizers will equal or even exceed that of the prime movers!

Take-Home Message: There’s no doubt that proper sleep and nutrition are required to show off a six-pack, but as far as exercise, the abdominals can be trained quite effectively as stabilizers. Stop doing wimpy little ab crunches and get to some real work!

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