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  • Extreme abs training

    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering how extreme ab conditioning can get. Right now, I have an 8-pack and I'm pretty happy with myself but I read somewhere that at the highest levels, ab conditioning results in an athlete being able to flex their upper body and midsection as one continous unit. Any ideas on how to help me get their? Here's what's currently in my routine:

    Lower abs:
    1. Flutter kicks (done while wearing shoes and followed by a half-minute session of holding my feet above the ground with my legs straight)
    2. Leg raises (done with shoes and followed by a half-minute session of holding my feet above the ground with my legs straight)

    Side abs/love handles:
    1. Side situps (regular situps, just done while lying on my side and bringing myself up with side abs)

    General purpose ab workout:
    1. (Janda) situps
    2. Bicycle situps (with shoes)
    3. Jack-knifes
    4. Lying on my back and holding my feet above the ground with my knees bent while holding a dumbell or medicine ball and bringing it from side to side

  • #2
    Apologies if I've mis-read this, I'm not familiar with some of those exercises, but most of them seem more geared towards strength endurance. When I think of "extreme" core strength, I think of the ability to do movements such as standing ab wheel rollouts, front levers, very heavy deadlifts, and flag variations. These types of movements take core strength to another level, that I don't think the exercises you've mentioned can get you to (though they are fine endurance exercises). But maybe by "ab conditioning", that's what you mean, endurance?

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    • #3
      Erm, I'm seeking to improve my ab tone and get to the level where I can flex my chest and ab muscles as one unit (i.e. learning to do flags). Of the exercises you mentioned, I'd like to learn the flag since it involves simultaneous chest and ab flexing. But I can't deadlift since I have lower back problems.

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      • #4
        The abs, like any other muscle group, will always receive the best foundation when worked as part of compound training. I have been doing hundreds of crunches and many different variations of sit-ups for years, but what has really developed my abs (in correct proportion to the rest of my mass) is solid compound exercises.

        For example - a good push-up with the absolute correct form (back completely straight and core aligned) should work your abs hard in conjunction with your chest, shoulders, back and arms working as a unit. If you follow this by doing pull ups, especially with your legs out at a 90 degree angle, this also works your abs hard in conjunction with chest, shoulders, back and arms working as a unit.

        AFTER I have worked these exercises hard to exhaustion, then and only then do I isolate the abs with specific crunches and other floor work. When muscles are trained in compound exercises they work harder for each other, which is how you will allign your ab development with (to use your example) your chest development.

        Its just like weight training. You can stand and do dumbell bicep curls all day long, but your body just doesn't work like that. You need a solid foundation of compound exercises that drive your overall muscle mass first, then isolate specific areas as a supplement. Just think of your abs in the same way - use solid full bodyweight training as your base, then carve them out with the specifics.

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        • #5
          Agree with Michael Wright. At the risk of repeating myself, you are not going to be able to develop the kind of whole-body strength needed for an advanced movement like the flag, using the movements you're doing ... in fact, I don't think you'll even get in the ballpark. You'll want to do high-effort compound movements to get there. I'd pick more than one to shoot for, so you can keep variety in your workout.

          Flags work way more than chest and abs -- in fact, I doubt abs are even the most important link in the core. Just to be clear, a flag is when you find a vertical support like a pole, put both hands on it, then lever your body up so you look like a flag. It's an advanced movement. Sometimes people say "flag" when they mean "dragon flags", a less-advanced but still demanding movement. Anyway, moving on, planches will hit your core, shoulders, arms, chest. Front levers will hit your back, shoulders, and core. Standing ab wheel rollouts will hit your shoulders and core.

          One nit, I'd banish this word "abs" from your vocabulary. The last thing you want to do is overdevelop your abs relative to the rest of your core, that's a recipe for injury. I know the term "core" is gag-reflex trendy, but I don't know a better term to describe all the musculature around the trunk, and you definitely want to be in the mindset that you should develop it all in a balanced way, and of course have your core strength balanced with the rest of your body ... which leads us right back to working the entire body as a unit. The isolation exercises you use should be a supplement, not the core (ha ha!) of the program.

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          • #6
            Good advice! I already do a lot of plank, pushups, 8-count bodybuilders, and other compound exercises. However, I still don't have amazing core strength yet. Should I just train more and wait for my body to mature (I just turned 17)? By the way, what are front levers?

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            • #7
              Front lever: The Front Lever

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              • #8
                I'm working on that skill right now ... there is a good tutorial on a series of progressions to build up the strength to do this from Coach Sommers; in addition, Greg Glassman advocates a different progression, both are worth trying. I also strongly advocate picking up a $10 ab wheel and working towards standing rollouts. Start from kneeling if you haven't done this yet, and do not let your back arch! These types of exercises will develop immense strength that crunches won't.

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                • #9
                  i think some steve maxwell can help out with this. since he is concentrating on both the chest and abs in this work out.

                  YouTube - Steve Maxwell Atomic push-Up

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                  • #10
                    wow, 8 packs. good to hear! how did you do that? I like martial arts but didn't train myself yet!

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                    • #11
                      Um, I did all the standard ab exercises along with leg raises followed by holding my feet about a foot off the ground with legs straight for lower abs, a lot of bicycles for my whole torso, and some side situps to get the side abs/obliques. I also do a lot of cardio in running/swimming so that probably burned off any excess fat on my midsection

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