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Abs are not only about the washboard stomachs we have grown accustom to seeing on the professional bodybuilding stage. There's a lot more to it then meets the eye. The actual anatomical make up includes the Rectus abdonomis, the external abdominal oblique muscles, serratus anterior and the internal abdominal oblique. Most of us tend to train our abs as a finishing touch on our overall appearance but we forget the main function of the abdominals. The abdominals are responsible for permitting our bodies to bend forward and back as well as to the side. Their main function is keeping our posture but they also aid in keeping our body stable when partaking in different activities and of course in both upper body and lower body lifts while bodybuilding.

By fully understanding the functions of our abdominals we can then implement effective ways of training them. As you read earlier our abdominals allow us to "flex our trunks" or in other words bend forward. The best way to effectively train them is to replicate this movement while in the gym. The reason most bodybuilders train their abs is definitely to increase the overall definition of the abs. There are a number of ways to go about obtaining this. One theory is to eliminate the fat that covers the abdominals. This can be achieved through both dieting and cardiovascular activity. Another way to help define your abdominals is to do abdominal exercises intensely with very high repetitions. The reason for this is that you don't want to add any unwanted mass to your abs. Cardiovascular conditioning is easily the most important aspect used to help a bodybuilder achieve defined abdominals. Bodybuilders use cardio as a tool to help shed unwanted fat. The key to effectively using cardio is to know exactly when to implement it into your routine. If you start doing it to early you will curtail all the gains you're desperately trying to make, but if done to late you won't have enough time to get your abdominals in the shape needed for competition. A good starting point is about 11 weeks out from your competition. This will give you enough time to cut your body fat and water retention.

The most misunderstood and under utilized tool for bodybuilders looking to obtain shredded abs is definitely dieting. I would go as far as saying that dieting alone is responsible for over 80% of a bodybuilders overall physique. If you look at it as, what you put in your body will either dictate whether your body gets bigger or smaller you'll certainly understand what I mean. The general rule of thumb is that your body needs to have 4-6 small meals that are high in protein, spaced out over a 2-3 hour span to keep your metabolism high and prevent fat storage.

As you can see, nothing I've written here could be considered rocket science but many bodybuilders don't take full advantage of this information. If you follow these simple guidelines you will achieve the washboard abs you've always dreamt of.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Body Building

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