The last statement is VERY important. Abs are made as much in the kitchen as in the gym. Having strong abs, obliques, etc is fantastic, but you won't SEE any difference if they're covered by a layer of fat. Seeing the muscle may not be all that important for everyone, however EVERYONE needs a strong and powerful core. The core (abs, obliques, back) support every other activity you'll do both in the gym, on the field, and out in the world.
- A good workout program should include attention given to the abs, obliques, and lower back
- Your obliques allow you to bend your trunk to either side as well as twist from side to side
- Multi-joint, compound exercises exercise your core without being the focus. Strict pushups, heavy deadlifts, barbell squats, etc.
- I'm not convinced a crunch offers a great enough range of motion to provide gains in the abs
- I'm not convinced its possible to isolate the "upper" or "lower" abs. It's all one muscle!
Here are a few exercises that can be done with a minimum of equipment in the comfort of your home. Many of these exercises may be new to you, but then again everyone knows the common exercises. Note: backdrop this time around courtesy of my parents house :)
- Band Punches
- Superman/Shaolin Pushup
If this movement is too hard for you, bring your arms in closer to your body so that you rest on your forearms in the bottom position of the movement. Do not bring your arms directly below your shoulders, because thats a normal pushup. The movement has more of a tricep extension type of action in the arms than the push in a pushup or benchpress.
Note in this picture how the position requires full body tension. Every muscle in the body must be tense to maintain strength. Read Pavel Tsatsouline's Naked Warrior and Power to the People for more info on total body tension.
For a quick, effective program, you could do the following in circuit fashion. Do one exercise after the other with no rest, and repeat the entire sequence 3-5x with 1 min rest between rounds
L-Sit 30 seconds
Band Punches 10-15 reps
V-Ups (consult Youtube for this one) 10 reps
Superman Pushups 10 reps
L-Pullups for a Quality Set (your pulling strength will limit you here)
Band Punches 10-15 reps
I recommend checking out Pavel's book "Bullet-Proof Abs" for info on the Janda Situp. Pavel goes into detail on this fantastic movement that deactivates the hip flexors and allows you to concentrate solely on your core. I won't go into it here because the book is a real treat.
Thanks for reading!