Twist on the Abs

Apr 21, 2010
Twist on the Abs

Some old school tips on your six pack

Leg lifts, reverse crunches, oblique crunches, ball crunches, oblique twists

The ever endless quest to attain a chiseled tummy that we all want. Both, guys and girls alike, I challenge you to re-think how you are training your abs to attain a midsection that’s not only muscular, but most importantly tight, flat and strong.

Unfortunately, the image of Arnold and Frank Zane’s tight, vacuumed, waistlines, in comparison to their massive built physiques shining on stage have become a standard of the past. Looking at old stage shots, you very rarely saw thick, protruding abs during pose-downs, These guys stuck to traditional moves, because that was all they had. Let’s remember, there were very few fancy, mass-marketed contraptions back then that promised effective core training and six-packs. These guys listened to their bodies and stuck to the basic nuts and bolts of bodybuilding.

Before getting to complicated we need to understand and agree that your abdominal muscles are no different than any other muscle in your body, when broken down and fed, they will grow. With that being said, proper abdominal training needs to be carefully examined and monitored to prevent producing not only a thick waistline, but a protruding gut.


If you don’t know what these two initials stand for, get to know them. The often neglected Transverse Abdominis, are the ultra-deep tummy muscles that are crucial for not only creating a flat mid-section, but providing overall back support and core strength for explosive exercises.

Many times, when we do a simple ab exercise such as a basic crunch, and fail to activate these muscles properly. Instead most of the work goes to the rectus abdominus (the muscles on top of the TA) and the hip flexors.


In order to create flat abs, start from the inside of your abdominal wall, in this case the TA. Let’s face it, if you add size and strength to the top, without building a solid foundation underneath, the end result will suffer.

The simplest and most effective way to nail the TA is doing vacuum isometric holds on your feet. Stand tall with your heals under your hips, exhale all the air out of your gut and suck that lower abdominal wall back as if you want your belly button to touch your spine. Master this exercise for 3 seconds at time, progressing to 5, 10 and 30 seconds, as your strength increases. Three sets of 10 vacuums a day is a great start.

Once you master the standing vacuum pose, you are ready to test this technique on a stability ball. Always focus on pushing or “vacuuming” your lower abdominal down on the ball first, before even thinking about crunching up your head and shoulders.


As with any specific training goal, you must look at all facets of your efforts to evaluate your chances of reaching success. If you are waiting for those razor sharp abs to magically appear, but eating lots of empty calories, you are only half-way there. A clean diet, proper water hydration and proper training that includes both strength and cardiovascular training are the cornerstones to creating a lean and ripped mid-section.

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