How to Get Those 6-Pack Abs by Lee Labrada
Not everybody is going to achieve the wasp-like waistline like that of Serge Nubret. But there are things that you can do right now to improve your abdominals.
How to Get Six-Pack Abs Developing hard, defined abdominals is a function of both exercise and diet. You must build the abdominal muscles first with resistance exercise and then strip off the fat layer hiding them with a nutrient-dense, calorie-sparse diet. The good news is that you can do both at the same time. Let’s look at the exercise component first. Exercise for Six Pack Abs The function of the abdominals is to bring the ribcage and the pelvis together. This is called trunk flexion. In any given abdominal exercise, you are either bringing your ribcage to your pelvis (as in an abdominal crunch) or you are bringing your pelvis to your ribcage (as in leg raises). Because a muscle grows more around the point at which is flexing, it is important to do both types of abdominal exercises. That’s why I like to do both crunches and leg raises in every abdominal workout.
Let’s Start with Crunches… In the crunch, the upper torso moves relative to the pelvis, which is fixed, and in leg raises, the pelvis moves upward relative to the upper torso which is fixed. To perform crunches, lie down on the floor and throw your lower legs over a bench. Your back should be flat against the floor, and your buttocks forward towards the bench so that your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. When viewed from the side, you should look like you are in an inverted sitting position. This position takes the psoas muscles out of the movement. The psoas muscles run from your thigh bones, pass through your trunk, and attach to your lower spine. You should not need to have your feet restrained; if you do, you are pulling with your psoas! This defeats the exercise and additionally can cause you to strain your back. Slowly curl your torso towards your pelvis, exhaling as you do. The motion simulates that of rolling a carpet. Your shoulders will only come up off the floor a few inches. Perform as many repetitions as you can. Rest long enough to catch your breath and repeat. Perform 3-4 sets of crunches, doing as many reps as you can.
Now for Hanging Leg Raises… Hanging leg raises are performed by grasping a chinning bar with a shoulder wide grip. Hang with your thighs parallel to the floor, then bringing your knees up to your chest. The lower legs may be extended to provide extra resistance.
The hanging leg raise, or a variation such as a “chair” leg raise performed on a machine, is effective for developing the lower abs only as long as you curl the pelvis upwards as you raise your legs. If there is an arch in the back whatsoever, the psoas muscles will again come into play, defeating the purpose of the exercise. It is helpful to remember that your legs serve only as resistance; the abdominal muscles are the actual movers which contract to tilt the pelvis upwards. Perform 3-4 sets of as many reps as possible. Ab Training Frequency Now, let’s look at how many times per week to do this ab routine. In the gyms, I’ve heard everything from ‘train abs every day’ to ‘train abs once per week’. Personally, I think both are wrong and I’ll explain why.
Training abs everyday is definitely wrong due to the simple fact that muscles have to recuperate in order to grow.
Training causes microtrauma and inflammation to a muscle, but the muscle responds by laying down new muscle, which equals bigger and stronger muscles. Training the abs every day would not allow sufficient time for them to recuperate between workouts. I do, however, agree that the abdominals recuperate faster than most other muscles.
Therefore, this abdominal routine should be performed 3 times weekly and should not last longer than 20 minutes. Train your abs on three nonconsecutive days per week, for example Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Lee Labrada’s Ab Routine Crunches (with knees bent at 90-degree angle and feet on top of a bench) 3-4 sets of as many reps as possible * Hanging Leg Raises (performed curling the pelvis upwards as you raise your legs) 3-4 sets of as many reps as possible *
Notes: • Perform this routine three times a week on non-consecutive days. For example Monday, Wednesday, Friday. • You can control the tempo of the repetitions by counting two seconds on the way up and 3 seconds on the way down. Dieting for Abs Now that you are on your way to developing your abs, let’s look at your diet.
Your diet must enable you to access and burn off the body fat stored over your abdominals. In order to do this, you must burn more calories each day than you consume.
Bring Consumption of Bad Dietary Fats Down One of the easiest ways to get your calories down without an appreciable drop in the perceived quantity of food you are consuming is to minimize high-fat foods in your diet. Avoid fried foods, oils, mayonnaise, whole eggs, butter and margarine, cream, whole milk, and for heaven’s sake, read the label of anything you eat. Be sure that you select foods that are low in fat by calories not by grams! Cut a small number of fats out of your diet. Let’s face it, the fat calories can add up over time.
Eliminating that extra pat of butter at breakfast alone can save you over 3000 Calories, or the equivalent of nearly ONE POUND OF BODY FAT per month!
Or you might replace your whole milk with skim milk, to eliminate the fat. The idea is to reduce fats or substitute leaner foods for high-fat foods when possible. This practice alone can drop many pounds of fat off your midsection in a short amount of time.
Eat Frequently Eating 5-6 small meals per day in lieu of the normal “three square” is also helpful and minimizes the accumulation of extra calories as fat. Small frequent meals also help to keep your stomach smaller, mitigating the potential for gut distension.
Remember, developing a hard, defined midsection is a function of both exercise and diet. Work hard on building your abdominal muscles first with resistance exercise while stripping off the fat layer hiding them with a nutrient-dense, calorie-sparse diet. The results will pay off big time dividends in the way you look and feel.
About the Author One of the world’s best-known bodybuilding legends, Lee Labrada holds 22 professional bodybuilding titles, including the IFBB Mr. Universe. Lee is an inductee of the IFBB Pro Bodybuilding Hall of Fame.
He has appeared on the covers of more than 100 bodybuilding and fitness magazines and has been featured on CNBC, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and ESPN as a fitness and nutrition expert. Lee is the best-selling author of The Lean Body Promise and co-founder of Lean Body Coaching, a results-driven one-on-one nutritional counseling program. For more information, visit www.leanbodycoaching.com