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[ Top 100 training tips ] -[ Programs] -[ Coach Ron explains ]

1. Partial incline sit-ups are best
Use partial incline sit-ups to form the basis of your routine. This is the most basic of abdominal motions and stresses the bulk of central muscle of the abdomen, called the rectus abdominus, with an emphasis on the lower area. I favor a partial incline bench as opposed to an incline board because bench slants tend to be more natural in angle and structurally forgiving. The result is less strain on the lower back.

2. Use moderate repetitions
Following the popular edict " more is better", some people go crazy with repetitions, doing dozens, even hundreds. The edict that really applies is "the law of diminishing returns." After a certain point, you stop stimulating and start annihilating. Overuse of these in such sequence can actually lead to overtraining and injuries. Abdominals do require a slightly higher repetition scheme than your average body part. However, keep your repetitions to fewer than 25, while increasing the level of difficulty with added resistance or a steeper angle.

3. Don't Twist
While twisting motions might seem like a great way to warm up or start your ab routine, they are actually dangerous and of little benefit. For example, holding a stick across your back and twisting is a good way to exposed the lumbar spine region of your lower back to disc injury. If you favor slight rotations from a sit-up or crunch position to emphasis the upper sides of the abdominals, this in no way represents a twist in the true sense.

4. Avoid side-bends
The abdominal muscles, like other muscles, will hypertrophy and grow with the stimulus of the resistance training. Since our society covets small waist, if that's your goal, you must be careful not to overdevelop abdominal muscles that widen the waist. In particular, these are the muscles of the external obliques located in the lower outer abdominal region.

5. Focus on the lower abdomen
Building the upper abs is relatively since almost every ab motion utilizes a contraction of the upper region to at least initiate the exercise. Most motions work the upper abs to the neglect of the lower abs, while even exclusive training of the lower abs still results in impressive upper abs development. In addition, poor tone in the lower abdominal region is perhaps most attributable to that unattractive bulging and distention below the belt-line. Abdomen and hip flexor movements (leg raises and lower ab machines) work best.

6. Rely on diet, not exercise alone
Don't believe what uneducated trainers say; you simply cannot "spot reduce."
While building up your abs with exercise does not make them more prominent, exercising them does not remove fat from the overlying surface. You must combine dietary restriction and healthy nutrient balance to bring out that washboard look.

7. Maintain a slow descent.
Your descent should be slow and controlled. Lowering the weight and lengthening the muscle is called the "accentric motion," while raising the weight and shortening the muscle is the "concentric motion." In the case of the abdominals, you should attempt to maintain an overall slower descent, or accentric motion, relatively to your brisker positive or concentric motion. This is key when attempting to dig deep into the fibers of the abs and really sculpt them.

8. Don't do forced repetitions or forced negatives
There as been an increasing number of naïve young lifters in gyms trying to apply these advanced training principles to their abdominal workouts. There is no added benefit to doing these and it's a surefire way to get hurt.

9. Train your abs with more intensity but less frequency
Overzealous fitness freaks train abs every day. They forget that the abdominal are just like other muscles; they need rest to recuperate and improve. Although the abs can and should be exposed to a bit more frequency in terms of the number of times you train them in a week (compared to the other body parts), training them more two or three times a week is excessive.

10. Whenever possible, get a partner to train abs with you.
Abs can be the one body part for which training gets a little monotonous. The repetition scheme is higher, training frequency is greater, and you use very little or no resistance. Your effort and intensity level can naturally get a little flat. Avoid this by grabbing a partner to run through your workout with you. It's more fun and a healthy competition between you and your partner can boost your intensity.