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How to Get More Defined Six-Pack Abs

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Floor Exercises for Abs?

Floor exercises, such as crunches and leg lifts, are a great way to strengthen and tone your core and abdominal muscles (refer to the link "Basic Floor Exercises for Abs" at the bottom of this article). However, these exercises can only go so far when it comes to muscle growth. Bodybuilding legend Serge Nubret worked up to doing 2,000 sit-ups every day, and his abs looked great, but achieving numbers like that are usually impractical for the everyday person. If you want larger, more blocky six-pack abs without hundreds and hundreds of crunches, you need to train these muscles as you would others you want to grow, which means challenging the abdominal muscles with more weight. After all, when you want to grow other muscle groups—such as your biceps, quadriceps, pectorals—you challenge them by adding more and more weight and doing shorter sets. The abdominals, in particular, tend to want to be resistant to growth, so they may require even more attention with the following weight-training techniques.

Hammer Strength Machine.

Hammer Strength Machine.

Hammer Strength Machine for Upper and Lower Abs

The most obvious and direct way to challenge the abdominal muscles with more weight is with the use of machines. The Hammer Strength machine is great for working both the lower and upper abs.

  1. When you position yourself in the chair, secure your legs, grab the handles, and crunch. The machine allows you to simultaneously pull down with your upper abs and pull up with your lower abs.
  2. Unlike in other abdominal machines, the bottom half (where you secure your legs) is mobile so that your upper and lower torso can both contribute to the crunch.
  3. Note that this is a more difficult machine to use if your abs are not yet strong, so you might need to work up to it.
  4. You might find another version of this in the free-weights section where you load your own weight, rather than using a pin and stack. You can usually rotate the seat on these to crunch your obliques (side abs).
Nautilus machine.

Nautilus machine.

Using Nautilus for Upper Abs

The Nautilus machine is also a great choice. It mainly focuses on the upper abdominals, so you would want to supplement the exercise with one that works the lower abs. It is certainly effective, however, and great for building up your abdominal strength. It is also one of the more comfortable exercises for beginners.

  1. Simply adjust the seat, adjust the weight, secure your feet, grab the handles, and crunch down.
  2. Try not to let the weights return to the stack in between reps so that you keep constant tension on your abdominals through the set.
Oblique machine

Oblique machine

Working Obliques (Side Abs)

The photo above features a machine that is great for working the obliques, or side abs. The bottom has a handle where you can adjust it for either your left or right side.

  1. Simply adjust the bottom to one side. Adjust the top pads so that they press against your shoulders/upper pectorals and support your upper torso when kneeling.
  2. Kneel on the bottom pad while gripping the top handles. Keep your upper torso locked into place and your back straight.
  3. Use your lower torso and obliques to twist the bottom section that you are kneeling on. Rotate your knees in and out with a full range of motion.
  4. Try not to let the weights touch the stack in between reps so that you keep tension on your obliques through the entire set.
  5. Remember to repeat with the opposite side.
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Challenging the Abs with a Cable Machine

If you want to try a more advanced exercise, consider the technique highlighted in the video below, by Scott Herman Fitness.

Ab Pulldown

An abdominal exercise bench.

An abdominal exercise bench.

Challenging the Abs Without Machines

Of course, using machines are not the only way to challenge your abdominals.

For example, you can do leg raises or crunches at an angle with an apparatus like the one pictured above.

  1. Simply secure your legs at the top to do crunches.
  2. Flip your body around and grab the handle in the center (interlocking your hands over your head) to do leg lifts (for more on basic leg lifts and crunches, refer to the article link below).

More Leg Lifts

You can also do leg lifts while hanging on an apparatus like the one pictured above. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Hang straight down, gripping the top bars with your hands.
  2. Or rest your forearms on the pads in the middle while gripping the handles.
  3. Either way, face outward with your back to the machine. Lift your knees as high as you can. You want to try to lift them above your hips so that you are crunching your lower abs. If you simply lift to your hips, your hip muscles are doing more of the work.
  4. For a more advanced version, hold a dumbbell between your feet or use ankle weights.

Basic Floor Exercises for Abs: Crunches and Leg Lifts

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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