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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

Building Washboard Abs


Sunil passed out from a reputed law school and stepped into the world of law and litigation. Having graduated from an institution of great repute, he did not have difficulty landing a position with a law firm. And then he was all set to work for a better future. But there was one thing that would often nag him. He wanted to be fitter than he was. He always looked at guys with bugling biceps and strong torsos with a certain amount of envy. He would console himself by thinking and mentally patting his back that his real muscles were in the mind, which, of course was true, but he still wanted a stronger body. And then came Ghajini , the movie starring Aamir Khan with his 8-pack abs. That did it. Now, Advocate Sunil wanted washboard abs like those.

Later, when he joined the gym and talked to the gym instructor about his ambition to get impressive abs, he was informed that abs not only enhanced the way one looked and felt about oneself, but also constituted the core of the body that assisted one in exercising with heavier weight and also supported the back preventing back injuries from everyday jerks and careless movements.

Here are some excellent exercises that are known to build strong and efficient abs.

Leg Raise

This is a simple exercise for the lower abdomen. Take an inclined bench and lie on it holding the bar above your head or back of the bench to prevent you from sliding down. Now, join your legs together at the ankle and raise them right up towards your chest with the legs slightly bent at the knees. You need to keep your legs slightly bent at the knees so as to prevent the knee joints from taking load. However, the legs have to be raised straight to work your lower abs. Hold your legs up straight for a second or two and slowly lower them back to their original position at the lower end of the bench. 8 to 12 repetitions are enough.

Abdominal Sit-Ups

This is one of the basic exercises for the abs. You can perform it either on floor or on an inclined bench. However, your abs must be strong enough to pull the weight of your upper body up before you choose to use inclined bench.

Lie on the floor, fold you legs at the knees with your feet placed on the ground near your hips. Now, with the back of your head held in the palms of your hands try lifting the upper body towards your legs slowly. And while you are in the crunched position hold yourself that way for a second or two and then lower yourself back to the original position. Do not let your head fall backwards and rest on the ground. Keep your head tilted inside at all times and avoid straightening your head when you are in the relaxed, stretched out position.

If you are using an inclined bench, engage your legs with the bar provided at the lower edge of the bench for the purpose, bend your knees slight and pull your body towards the bar before you start performing the exercise. Perform two sets of around 8 to 12 repetitions, and go as slow as possible.

Also, do not raise the inclined bench too high because raising it higher increases resistance, and that might injure your abs in case they are not powerful enough to take that kind of resistance.

Lying Abs Free-Pedaling

You perform this exercise on the floor itself, but in case you are uncomfortable with the hard ground pressing against your back, you could use a mat. However, do not use a mattress or anything that is too soft because it is important for this exercise that your back is against a firm surface.

Lie flat on the floor. Hold your head in your palms from behind with the fingers of one hand nestled into the fingers of the other hand, or simply hold your head with the tips of your fingers resting on the sides of your head. Now, lift the upper part of the body off the floor as though you were about to perform abdomen crunches. Now, lift your legs and bring your knees towards your chest as far as possible. With one of your knees bent, straighten the other leg slowly in the air at about 45 degree angle as though you were kicking something in the air. Keep the movement slow and do not jerk. It is only the motion of kicking and not the actual kicking that you have to do.

When you stretch the right leg, twist the upper body simultaneously towards the left so as to bring the elbow of your left hand towards the right knee. Perform the same movement with the left leg and right side of the body. Do it alternatively. Two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each are more than sufficient.

This is a slightly complicated but very effective exercise and must be performed with controlled movements for maximum benefit.

Captain's Chair Leg Raise

For this exercise one has to make use of Captain's Chair, which is a machine specifically designed for the purpose of abdomen exercises and for triceps raises. The exercise is considered to be one of the most effective exercises for the abs, particularly lower abs.

Stand on the chair and take hold of the grips provided at the ends of the arms with your back against the straight backrest. Keep your back firmly pressed against the back so that your back remains straight and does not sway as you perform the repetitions. Now, tense your back, bend your legs at the knees and raise your knees up towards the chest. Neither arch your back, nor swing your legs to provide momentum for the exercise. When your knees are raised up at 90 degree to your back just hold them in that position for a second before lowering them down to the original position slowly.

When your abdomen muscles are powerful enough to control the movement, you might also try raising your legs up on the strength of the abs without folding them at the knees.

Perform 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each. And keep the repetitions slow and easy.

Among the above mentioned exercises, the first two are the basic exercises for abs, whereas the last two are considered to be advanced exercises and must be performed only after your abs have gained some strength. An injury to the abs must be avoided because they are the core muscle group that are summoned for assistance in nearly all exercises.


Note: This is not a piece of authoritative medical or professional opinion or advice. Exercise of individual discretion is strongly recommended.

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