Most people new to bodybuilding pay a lot of attention to building big arms, sometimes to the point of overtraining. However, one of the most important areas of the body to train is the abdomen. There are two muscles in the abdomen – the transversus abdominus and the rectus abdominus. The rectus abdominus has three pairs of abdominal muscle layers. The transversus abdominus has two pairs of layers. Training both muscles will give you thicker abdominal muscles, which in turn gives you a stronger, more defined abdomen.
There are two different types of abdominal workouts:
1. Full body workouts: This type of workout requires that you work all three pairs of abdominal muscles in one workout. For example, you would work the rectus abdominus in both the chest and the quadriceps in one workout.
2. Crunch workouts: This type of workout requires that you work just the abdominal muscle on one side of the body in one workout. For example, you would work the obliques in the right side of the body and the obliques in the left side of the body in one workout.
Both of these abdominal workouts give you thick, muscular abdominals. But you must remember that they take longer to do than a traditional abdominal workout. As such, you should plan your abdominal workouts around the time you have available for other muscle groups. For example, you would work the abdominal muscles in the chest and the legs in your lower body.
A traditional abdominal workout would look like this:
1. Chest – 1 flat bench press, 3 sets of 10 reps.
2. DeltsThe most important muscle for a full body workout is the latissimus dorsi muscle. Lower the dumbbells to your side, release the weight and lower them slowly until you’re at a 90-degree angle.
3. Lats – Repeat steps 2 & 3 for 3 sets.
4. Lower Back – Lie flat on your back on a weighted bench. Using a straight bar, lower the weight down towards the floor. Lower the weight with your upper arm still on the bench. Lower the weight as slowly as you can. For most people, they should bring the bar down to about your hip crease. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
5. Calf Raise – You should get on a flat bench and raise your feet up as high as you can and hold them up with your hands. The point is to raise your entire body up and do a calf raise. It’s a challenging exercise and should be done in three sets of 10 reps.
6. Abdominals – Take a dumbbell in your right hand and lay down. Keep your left leg up. The right leg should be straitened out so that you are standing straight up. Now lift your right shoulder up with the dumbbell and hold it up. If you want to do crunches, do them on the floor. There is a movement that you can do, I’m sure you do know it.
All the above exercises should be done in 10 minute increments. I’m sure you can come up with enough of your own at home.
For the next exercise, you’re going to use an exercise ball. I am using the HIT Ball. If you don’t have an exercise ball, go buy one. You’ll find them at gyms, health and fitness centers, and even online. There are some great routines that you can do with the HIT Ball.
1. Bounding Straight Out – Lie down on the HIT Ball. Make sure that your back is straight and your heels resting on the ground. Grab the ball in your left hand and raise it in a vertical motion so that it’s horizontal to your body. I want you to move it out as far as you can and then return it to its original position.
2. Push Ups – Stand on the HIT Ball. Now do push ups. This routine requires that you be on the ball and move it out while keeping your feet on the floor. You’ll find that there’s resistance that you move the ball in and out. Keep repeating this routine for 3 sets.
3. Medicine ball push ups – If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can do them with a medicine ball. You don’t need a medicine ball if you don’t want to. This is a great alternative if you don’t have an exercise ball. You’ll find yourself rolling the ball out and in, and in, and out.
You can also do a whole workout routine on the HIT Ball. I usually choose a routine that involves jumping and bodyweight exercises. In fact, this is one of my favorite HIT Ball workout routines. I take it to the gym with me when I travel.