Physical Culture Abs
Developing Your Abdominals Through Heavy Strength Training
By Zach Even-Esh
One thing you notice when you see photos from strength athletes from back in the mid 1950’s and many years prior, is that these men had granite hard abs that were packed with muscle. I’m talking about heavily muscled abs that came as a result of lifting heavy weights, often times from a standing or bent position. You just don’t see abs like these nowadays due to the fear of heavy weights and the overabundance of machines that allow you to exercise while sitting or lying down!
These men did a lot of heavy lifting in the form of ground based lifting. Overhead pressing, bent pressing, deadlifts and Olympic lifting as well as the use of odd objects helped develop well balanced physiques that looked strong and were strong.
Strength was the main focus for these men, and in return, their physiques prospered! Even today, many physical culture fans aspire to develop their own physiques similar to those of the past!
Many people subscribe to performing direct ab work to develop a rock hard six pack. This is certainly one way but I have discovered that it is one of MANY ways to develop the abs and maybe not the best way either
Without a doubt and without hesitation
we can all agree that nutrition is critical for being able
to see the abdominals. But, you still need to pack muscle on
your abs and of equal importance is to develop a strong set
of abs through movements and stabilization exercises.
1 - Arm Flat DB Bench
Instead of pressing both dumbbells at the same time, your abs must stabilize intensely to keep you on the bench, especially as you lower the weight and gravity tries to pull you off. I emphasize that you should not fear to lift heavy weights here or with any other movement. Often times, abdominals receive the most stress from stabilizing during a strength movement so go heavy and perform sets in the 5 – 10 range per side! I prefer holding the palms in a neutral grip on this movement. Do NOT use your free hand to grab onto anything to stabilize, that’s what your abs are for!
2 - Kettlebell Get Up Sit Up
Begin by laying on your back with a kettlebell pressed and locked out. Have someone hold your legs down while keeping them straight. You can use a dumbbell here if necessary. Perform an explosive sit up while keeping the weight locked overhead. The downward phase should be performed with a super slow 5 count. As you down, exhale 5 times and pause at each exhale. This forces the abs to contract intensely on the way down. Performing 2 – 3 sets of 5 reps per arm will be plenty!
In a traditional workout, we either perform a full body workout or an upper / lower split. So let’s take a look at how we can incorporate these movements into a workout. We work abs during the warm up of every workout and often times work abs in between sets of other exercises.
I suggest working the abs as I mentioned above for variety, those 3 ways once again are:
During warm up
If we were to train the abs at the end of the workout, we often work in a circuit and get in a total of 3 – 6 sets. Here’s a sample ab workout performed at the end of a workout:
1A) get up sit up 2 x 5 each
1B) power wheel kneeling or standing roll out 2 x 12 – 15 reps
1C) v ups 2 x 15 – 20 reps
Throughout each workout though, our
abs are getting worked intensely. Exercises with kettlebells,
heavy barbells and dumbbells and ground based movements
force the abs to work hard throughout the workout.
Zach Even-Esh has been involved in strength training, wrestling and other combat sports for over 16 years. During this time Zach obtained a BA in Health & Physical Education and an MA in Health Education. Zach was part of the first group in the world to become an IYCA Youth Conditioning Specialist.
Zach is an acclaimed speaker and author, having presented at Ryan Lee's Boot Camp, Perform Better Seminars and at numerous wrestling clubs through out NJ. Zach is the author of the Underground strength training book, The Gladiator Training Manual, he is a regular writer for TapouT Magazine and Men's Fitness Magazine.
Training combat athletes is a passion for Zach & he only allows the most dedicated athletes to participate in his programs. His clientele consists of high school & college athletes, MMA fighters, Military & Law Enforcement personnel. Some of these individuals have dominated national competition in their sport!
Visit Zach online at: www.UndergroundStrengthManual.com and find out more about UNDERGROUND training methods - such as Kettlebells, Logs, Kegs, Odd Objects, Ropes, Sandbags, Sledgehammers, Sleds, Stones, Tires - even Cars, and be sure to grab your FREE Underground Strength Course at www.UndergroundCombatTraining.Com and see how Zach uses innovative training methods to develop granite hard bodies that are as strong as they look!