martes, 18 de julio de 2017


I had abs before they were cool. I had no idea how lucky I was, or why my dating prospects improved so dramatically as the weather warmed up. All I knew was that I was skinny and I wanted to be bigger. My wish came true soon enough; with a desk job and a workout programme that consisted almost entirely of lifting heavy things, the weight was easy to put on. My abs disappeared, but I enjoyed the modest strength gains more than I missed the jagged contours.

 Over time, the unholy alliance of word-processing software and an unbalanced workout programme left me with a series of injuries that made sitting easier but lifting nearly impossible: My body was, literally, molding itself to hunch over a keyboard.

So I returned to my core. Instead of a few random sets of midbody exercises at the beginning or end of my workout, core training became the centerpiece of my programme.

Meanwhile, Alwyn Cosgrove, co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, was searching for solutions to the same dilemma as he designed his workouts. Cosgrove noticed that clients were coming to him in far worse shape than demographically identical clients were just a few years ago. Their posture was distorted, thanks to years of working ever-longer hours with ever-smaller technology. Even the clients who were "fit" often displayed unbalanced fitness: The strong ones lacked endurance, the ones with good endurance lacked strength, and most of them struggled with injuries related to training for one goal at the expense of all others.

The solution, Cosgrove discovered, was to spend less time in the weight room and more time on mobility, conditioning, and core training. Especially core training. You'd think that less time with the iron would mean a softer body and weaker muscles. But that's not what happened-not to me, and not to Cosgrove's clients. The focus on core training not only helped me recover from my injuries but also left me leaner and more athletic than I'd felt in a long time.

Cosgrove's training approach, and my success with it, led us to write our book, The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. Read on to learn the top body-changing benefits you'll achieve using our core-centric approach.

Burn fat without moving

Ab training is easy; core training is hard. An exercise like the crunch works a tiny amount of muscle through a minuscule range of motion. Core training works your abdominal muscles along with your lower back and draws in your glutes, hamstrings and everything in between. Even your lats are involved; the connective tissue at the bottom of your lats play a crucial role in stabilising your spine and helping transfer force between the muscles in your upper and lower body when you row, climb or pull.

Training that much muscle at once burns a lot of calories, even if you're not moving.

Here's an example: Assume a pushup position, with your arms straight. Lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously, and hold that position. Concentrate on keeping your body still-don't let your hips drop or your torso rotate. Keep holding. A little longer. Wait . . . okay, you lost it. No problem. Just repeat by lifting your left arm and right leg. And hold that. Unless you're a recreational acrobat, you're probably sweating, shaking, and wheezing like an asthmatic. Train like that for 10 minutes each time you go to the gym and it's hard not to get lean.

Build muscle where it matters

If your goal was to build your biceps, you'd target those muscles with curls. Why curls? Because you can feel your biceps contracting on each rep. Most guys use the same logic in pursuit of abs: Crunches shorten the muscles, so that must be the best way to work them. It isn't!

A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that exercises that extend your body while keeping your lower back in a safe, neutral position, work the rectus abdominis-the six-pack muscle-25 per cent harder than crunches do.

Try this: Grab a Swiss ball and assume a plank position-your toes on the floor and body straight from neck to ankles-but with your forearms on the ball. Slowly push the ball out and away. Go as far as you can while keeping your lower back completely stiff-that is, the arch in your lower back shouldn't increase or decrease. Pull the ball back and repeat. Chances are, it'll take a few workouts before you can do 10 reps with a good range of motion. And you may find yourself with sore abs a day or two afterward. But at least you'll know you're truly developing these muscles.

Win the game of life

Core training isn't the answer to every fitness question. When researchers try to correlate core stability with athletic performance, the results are underwhelming.

But good strength coaches include core training in their programmes anyway; they know it's important for back injury prevention, if nothing else.

However, when a Canadian research team looked at specific tests of fitness and longevity, they found that men who scored lowest for abdominal endurance had more than double the risk of death from any cause over the course of the study compared with those who scored highest.

Why? The same reason strength coaches stress core training, even if it's not directly linked to goals or touchdowns. Stability of your lower back depends on the endurance of the supporting muscles.

Spinal instability leads to injury. Injury can be a career killer for an athlete, and plain deadly for an older adult. Train your abs now and you'll have many more years to enjoy the benefits.


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