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Questioning Proper Abdominal Training
By: John Paul Catanzaro

Q: I've heard you mention that you don't need tons of cardio to burn stubborn abdominal fat. Okay, I can live with that, but you've also said that it isn't absolutely necessary to perform direct ab work either. What gives?

A: If you want to build a serious set of abdominals, routinely perform the following exercises and their variations: squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and standing military presses. These multi-joint movements require a strong contribution from the abdominals to stabilize the core, particularly when heavy loads are used. It is not uncommon to hear clients complain of abdominal soreness a day or two after performing multiple sets with a decent weight of the chin-up or standing military press exercise - the ab prestretch will tap into fibers you never thought existed! And remember, your abdominals act as a natural girdle, or weight belt if you will, when performing all exercises, particularly squats and deadlifts. These muscles act as a bridge between your upper and lower body and are heavily recruited as stabilizers.

Sure, isolation exercises like pullovers, curls, and even triceps pressdowns also require a good degree of core stability; however, the loads used are relatively low compared to the big 4 mentioned above. In fact, according to Siff & Verkhoshansky, isolation becomes virtually impossible if large loads are used, and in many cases, the tension developed in the stabilizers will equal or even exceed that of the prime movers!* So, you see, the abdominals can be trained quite effectively as stabilizers - the physiques of top Olympic weightlifters will attest to that.

Q: I have been training for years and I can't seem to feel any soreness in my abdominals anymore. Is there something I can do to wake these guys up?

A: ABSolutely! If you've been doing tons of reps of wimpy little abdominal exercises like most people, then it's no wonder that you're stuck in a rut. Remember, the abdominals are composed of primarily fast-twitch fibers. Here's what I suggest to tap into those "guys":

* pick big (i.e. multi-joint, compound) movements

* train in a full range of motion (get the prestretch when working abdominals)

* perform explosive concentric & slow eccentric contractions

* do lots of sets of low reps using heavy loads

* make sure you get enough rest between sets

Okay, so here's the routine:

A1) Lean-Away Chin-Ups 6 x 1-3 @ 5-0-X-0, 120 secs.

* add weight to chin/dip belt, clear chin at top, lean back as you come down by pushing the bar away and make sure to go all the way down at bottom

A2) Standing Military Press 6 x 1-3 @ 5-0-X-0, 120 secs.

* clean the weight up to your shoulders, stand with your legs straight (yes, that means knees locked) and arch back slightly to maximize prestretch

B1) Decline Leg Raise/Plank 4-6 x 4-6 @ 5-0-X-0, 90 secs.

* this is similar to the move in Rocky IV, raise your legs until they are perpendicular to your body then shoot your hips up to form a bow from head to toe, slowly lower your body staying as rigid as possible.

B2) Sicilian Crunch 4-6 x 4-6 @ 5-0-X-0, 90 secs.

* laying supine on a Swiss ball, crunch inwards with the dumbbell resting on your chest then extend your arms out (completely outstretched, in-line with your torso) during the slow eccentric.

If you would like to finish off with a couple sets of wheel rollouts for as many reps as possible, be my guest. Make sure to work the legs and back/hip extensors during another workout. Rolling out of bed the next day should offer a pleasant surprise!

John Paul Catanzaro is a certified kinesiologist and professional fitness and lifestyle consultant with a specialized honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private gym in Toronto, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. For additional information, visit his website at http://www.BodyEssence.ca or call 416-292-4356.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/


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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape

 

Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.


Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
shocks.

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
speaking.

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
time.

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:
http://tinyurl.com/6c6kq
 

Dave Snape

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