Specialized techniques, equipment, and supplements have cornered the market on abdominal training, offering quick fixes for chiseled abs. But according to Jonathan Ross, author of Abs Revealed (Human Kinetics, 2010), a sculpted midsection comes from training the entire body and not just the abdominals. “The abdominals are part of the machine of your body,” Ross says. “Although you want the body to be visually appealing, you still need the machine to work well.”
Chiseled abs require more than doing core exercises and having strong abdominal muscles. “You may have the best abs possible, but if they are blanketed by a layer of body fat, no one will see them,”Ross explains. In Abs Revealed, he offers a complete program for strengthening, sculpting, and maintaining the midsection. Included are more than 65 core exercises, ready-to-use workout plans, and advice on integrating abdominal development into cardio and strength routines.
“Historically, the abdominals have been trained at random with many ineffective strategies that used either a lot of exercises or a lot of repetitions without much rhyme or reason,” Ross says. “People do hundreds of crunches to target the abs, but they don't do similar numbers of squats, pull-ups, bench presses, or other exercises to train additional parts of the body.”
For the best possible abdominal performance, Ross stresses the importance of training both the abs that are seen and those that aren't. “The muscles under the six-pack are never seen, but they support the success of washboard abs,” he explains. “Hidden abdominal stability yields visible abdominal strength, or a sculpted six-pack.”
Building a strong core also requires training back muscles. “The proper balance of strength and stability between the abdominal and back muscles makes for a truly well-built body,” Ross says. “You can't have strong abs without a good back.”
For more information, see Abs Revealed.