Archive for November 1, 2009

The ABS and Core… probably the number one subject any trainer gets asked about, because we all want to have an awesome physique, and that means developing a killer midsection!
 Here’s a message I received on Facebook the other day. The person who sent in the email attended a youth sports camp in Texas a few years back when I was working there as a summer camp counselor. FUN TIMES down in Trinity Texas on the lake.
Here’s the message I received from David…
Ian, I’ve been following your threads and articles on all of your methods of healthy ways too working out, and it has been very beneficial to me. I look up to you very highly and take your knowledge into my daily life. I bet back when you were my counselor you never thought I would be talking to you this late on lol.
I have a question I was wondering if I could ask you, I’ve been performing a basic abs workout, using a medicine ball on an incline bench, I basically hold the ball and touch my toes as I perform crunches; what is a more efficient method of working the core and abs to really get a more aggressive, sleeker look?
One more question, I been trying to come up with a healthy diet to start on, however being a poor college student it is hard to afford organic and expensive foods, what do you suggest? I really appreciate any help you could give me, I understand you’re very busy. Thank you again

David T, Houston Texas

Here’s my reply to David…
Hey man, good to hear from you… AND it’s really nice to hear you find my information useful and I hope practical!

When it comes to getting sleeker abs, as you say, the focus should not always be exclusively on the ABS themselves. Visually we want a sleeker midsection… and that will often require us to focus on building up the areas around the abs to create that sleeker look.

Ever see a junkie or homeless person with their tops off? Most of them have lean abs, but the don’t have enough muscle, both in the abs and in the muscles around the abdominals or midsection, to carry of a truly lean and athletic look.

True leanness requires MUSCLE!!! Skinny LEAN just don’t cut it in my opinion and personally my goal is to continue building a more muscularly (is that even a word?!?lol) LEAN body.

What are the muscles that surround the midsection? Well obviously the chest muscles. Then there’s the serratus muscles, the finger like muscles, located below your arm pits. Adding muscle to these areas whilst dropping body fat will help create a sleeker look through the ENTIRE midsection. It’s not all about the ABS themself!!!

The arms also surround or encapsulate the abs. It’s nice to have nice arms to go with those sleek abs after all.

With the abs themself you don’t actually want to perform the majority of crunch exercises as they cause you to perform too much lumbar spine flexion. Your lumbar spine (lower back) is meant to be stable.

I believe a lot of the back trouble I have had was created by excessive lumbar flexion and extension work that my track and field coaches had me do years ago.

A serratus crunch is acceptable to perform for those who are already somewhat lean, but correct technique is a must with this one.

The majority of your ab work should be performed using exercises that require you to stabilize your spine and resist rotation… so stabilization and anti-rotational exercises are what I perform the most!

If performing hanging knee raises, perform them with really strict technique and with minimal to no lumbar flexion (don’t aim to tuck your knees to your chin)

Keep in mind that with the abs we not only want to address the muscles, but more importantly, we want to address and attack the fat that is covering them and traditional abdominal exercises suck at doing this.

For removal of abdominal fat you must address your nutrition and have a sound resistance training program that is geared towards fat loss and metabolic in nature. This means that it must be a bad ass program specifically designed to annihilate nasty belly fat. It’s NOT chest and triceps day followed by 30-60 minutes of slog your guys out cardio on the treadmill or elliptical!

With your ‘CARDIO’ (everything is cardio btw) training… you want to engage in higher intensity intermittent type work. Basically this means instead of performing 30 minutes of slog work at the same speed… you will perform short bursts of intense work lasting anywhere from 30-90 seconds (depending on the mode of interval training) followed by periods of extremely low intensity work (ACTIVE RECOVERY) that will last for a time period equal to, and most often double or triple, the length of the work period…

Sean Crawford

So if you sprint for 30 seconds at 80% plus effort your rest period will be 30-90 seconds (and sometimes longer) of real easy walking!

Often people will do intervals of 1 minute followed by a rest period of 2 minutes and repeat 8-10 total repetitions. This is good and I have used this and often have clients use this structure too….

But you can also break your intervals into sets. If you do 10 x 1 minute intervals with 2 minutes rest between, the session will take you a total of 28 minutes plus a warm up and cool down period.

Let’s create another session that will require you to perform approx 10 x 1 minute interval reps and last approx 30 minutes. It will consist of 5 sets, with 2 reps been performed per set… and then the rest period between the sets will total the time it takes to complete one full set.

Perform 2 x 1 Minute Intervals… Resting 1 Minute Between Reps … (3 Mins Total) and then Rest 3 Minutes
Perform 2 x 1 Minute Intervals… Resting 1 Minute Between Reps … (3 Mins Total) and then Rest 3 Minutes
Perform 2 x 1 Minute Intervals… Resting 1 Minute Between Reps … (3 Mins Total) and then Rest 3 Minutes
Perform 2 x 1 Minute Intervals… Resting 1 Minute Between Reps … (3 Mins Total) and then Rest 3 Minutes
Perform 2 x 1 Minute Intervals… Resting 1 Minute Between Reps … (3 Mins Total) and then You’re DONE!!!

Let’s do the math here… 5×3 minute sets = 15 minutes + 4×3 minute set recovery periods = 27 minutes total time (add on warm up and cool down time)

10 minutes of that 27 minutes is high intensity work and the other 17 minutes is really low intensity work! This type of session is far superior than going for a 30 minute slog your ass off run!

NOTE: Track intervals or intervals performed on the grass is far superior to treadmill intervals, but require a more specific and longer warm up or preparation period. Short intervals, under 30 seconds, being performed in the gym should be performed on an upright bike!

Hope this helps you out bro.


P.S. I will address your question on nutrition in another post!

 I hope David, and you, find this post and my response information and useful. Please feel free to add your comments or questions below. Thanx


Ian Graham, ABS Co-Author and BEST Body Award Winner
Sculpt Your WHOLE Life, Not Just Your BODY