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How to Get Rid of That Belly Bulge & Create a Set of Phenomenal Abdominals
by Bob Bonham


How to Get Rid of That Belly Bulge & Create a Set of Phenomenal Abdominals

NEW YORK—This time of year, when the weather is warm and everyone is at the beach or the pool, we all wish we could have a “six-pack”: a rock-hard, solid stomach with visible abdominal muscles. So many people want a six-pack, but so few have one. Why? Many simply don’t understand the importance of proper diet and the necessary exercises involved to actually create an eye-catching midsection. Where are the abdominal muscles? They are the muscles that go from the top of your pelvic bone to the bottom of your ribcage, and they are also central muscles that control much of what you do, so it’s important to train them properly. Fitness expert Bob Bonham of Strong & Shapely Gym in East Rutherford, NJ, offers some simple steps for achieving your goal of carving out a six-pack.
Bob is a regular contributor to many bodybuilding magazines.


Crunches Are Better Than Sit-Ups: Did you know that traditional “sit-ups”—the exercise we all learned in junior-high gym class that requires us to raise our chests up to our knees—mainly works the hip flexor muscles, not the abdominals? For better results, try a “crunch”: roll the shoulders off the floor and contract your abs. This is a more effective way to build a six-pack because it isolates the abdominals more. However, don’t overdo it with crunches. Focus on quality, not quantity. Instead of doing hundreds of reps, consider increasing the amount of resistance over a few weeks’ time. Hold a weight plate or a medicine ball across the chest while doing crunches, and try doing from eight to 25 reps. It’s best to focus on form and maintaining tension and resistance in your midsection when training abdominals—not the amount of reps you do. Twenty-five reps of crunches with proper form and resistance are better than 300 quick and sloppy reps.

Don’t Rely Solely on Abdominal Machines, & Work Lower Abs, Too: While it is fine to use abdominal-exercise machines at the gym, don’t rely on them solely to build a six-pack. Although machines can help isolate the abdominals, you will get better results if you combine working out on an ab machine with crunches and other abdominal exercises that don’t need to be done on a machine. Consider using free weights and train while standing up instead of sitting on a machine. Doing so will help train the “core” muscles in your body better and work them harder. Any time you make an exercise a bit more difficult, you create more resistance and will get better results. Also remember to work your lowers abs as well as your upper abs. To target the lower abs, try doing exercises that will draw your hips toward your chest. Hanging knee raises and reverse crunches are great exercises for the lower abs. Do side crunches to work your obliques. If you are uncertain about how to do these exercises, consider taking an abdominal-training class at your gym or hire a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to learn new exercises that will constantly challenge your abdominals.

Train Your Abs Last: Many people like to train their abs before they work their other muscles at the gym. However, did you know that it’s actually better to train your abs at the end of a workout? Since abdominals are “core” muscles that you actually train when you do other compound exercises, you don’t want to overwork them at the beginning of the workout and then have them be too “tired” when you are doing other things at the gym, such as barbell squats, bench presses and dead lifts.

Working Your Entire Body is Key: Many people spend way too much time working their abs and neglect to focus on training the entire body. As previously mentioned, other exercises also work the abs, and if you focus on training the entire body you will help raise your metabolism, burn more fat, and make your abs more visible.

Take Time Off From Training Abs & Mix Up Your Routine: Just like any other muscle, abdominals need time to rest and recover after you have worked them, so don’t train them every day. Also, don’t do the same abdominal exercises for extended periods of time. Like all muscles, abdominals need to be challenged with new exercises every few weeks. For best results, change your abdominal routine every four to six weeks. It’s also a good idea to try different ab exercises during a one-week period. For example, on Mondays you could do regular crunches, then on Wednesdays you could do crunches with a Swiss ball. Mix up your routine so that your abdominals don’t get too accustomed to the same exercises.

Diet is Crucial for Abs: Nobody is going to see your abs if they are covered with a layer of fat. Watch your fat intake and eat a diet high in protein and green vegetables and fruit, and low in carbohydrates. It’s best to eat five to six small meals per day than three large ones. Of course, it is best to avoid alcohol (too many empty calories), greasy fast food and high-calorie, processed “junk” food, and anything with high levels of sugar such as cakes, ice cream and cookies. If you eat right and train properly, you will start to see a six-pack in just a few weeks.

The September 2007 issue of Men’s Exercise includes a feature on Bob Bonham’s tips for healthy eating for busy people in the magazine’s “Fantastic Facts” column. The January 2007 issue of Exercise for Men Only magazine wrote that Strong and Shapely Gym in East Rutherford, NJ is “widely renowned as one of the best training centers in America.” The December 2005 issue of MuscleMag International noted: “Bob Bonham is one of the great experts in the field of health and fitness.” The gym is the training center for everyone from top athletes to business people just trying to stay in shape. The gym has 334 workout stations, with 12 computerized circuit machines (9 in stretching rooms), 60 leg machines, 35 for chest, 30 miscellaneous benches, 5 Smith machines, plus 1 neck, 14 shoulder, 41 back, 72 cardio, 7 lower back, 25 ab and 23 arm machines. Also look for 40, 675 pounds of free weights, 20,000 lbs of plates, 17, 700 lbs of dumbbells, 2075 lbs of fixed barbells and EZ-curls, 990 lbs of Olympic bars, and a posing room and sauna.
For more information, visit www.strong-and-shapely.com



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