I HAVE A STRICT POLICY of never interfering with how someone is training. He or she could be attempting a one-legged squat, holding a 50kg barbell across his or her shoulders while standing on a BOSU ball, and I wouldn’t give a warning of a near-certain pending disaster. I keep myself to myself.
But . . . when I heard a young lady in the gym complaining to her girlfriend that however many sit-ups she did, she couldn’t get her lower abs to show, I broke my noninterference rule and explained that sit-ups weren’t the best way to build the lower abs region. In fact, there was once a school of thought that was adamant about proclaiming that an abundance of sit-ups would indeed build the upper abs, but at the same time, cause the lower abdomen to bulge out unattractively. I have witnessed this phenomenon, but can’t say for sure that such a condition was caused solely by the performance of sit-ups.
Back in the day, the late, great bodybuilder “Zabo” Koszewski made a point of performing a thousand sit-ups a day, after which he worked his lower abs with 700 supine leg raises. This balancing act seemed to work. Zabo was regarded as having the best built abdominals in the world, and was always rewarded in bodybuilding contests with the best abs trophy.
Back in the ’50s, it was Vince Gironda, better known as the “Iron Guru,” who aggressively claimed from the sanctuary of his North Hollywood Vince’s Gym that sit-ups were in fact a useless exercise. “They don’t work the abs,” proclaimed Vince, “because the leg flexors get all the stress. People interested in obtaining an impressive sixpack should forget sit-ups and perform crunches.”
There’s no denying that there’s more than a grain of truth to Vince’s statement, but his claim that sit-ups don’t work the abs is obviously stretching the truth, as anyone who has taken a set of sit-ups to failure can attest. Yes, there is some leg muscle involvement, but no one can honestly claim that sit-ups don’t work the abs, albeit principally the upper layer. Sorry, Vince.
When I write articles for Oxygen (jeez, how long’s it been . . . ) I am always aware that I have the power to inform or misinform. And believe me, when I read some of the garbage (excuse my French) that is written in other magazines, all to make their features more interesting to the reader, I see catastrophic misinformation on almost every page. So this is where “Tough Love Bob” has to give out the same old, same old information, all in the name of truth.
Here goes: You can’t build an impressive, showy set of abdominals without paying strict attention to good, clean nutrition. As my wife Tosca says
in her seminars: “You can’t chase away the sins of eating chocolate cake by any amount of pounding on the treadmill.” Yes, clean eating is vital. Do you really want a fat-free midsection? How bad do you want it? Bad enough to clean out that fridge right now? Bad enough to throw out the calorie-dense cookies, the bacon and high-fat cheese, the sodas, sweetened cereals and other sugar-loaded products? How much will it hurt to refuse a cream-based soup the next time you eat out? Or to tell the waiter that you only want balsamic vinegar as a dressing for your salad and
no cream or sugar in your coffee? How about saying no to a beer, or anything deep fried? And remember: if you get it through a car window,it’s not food!
Eating clean may seem hard at first, but once it becomes a lifestyle, the reward is huge – your body becomes a fat-destroying machine. And couple eating clean with regular weight workouts, working the abs a minimum of three times a week with this routine, getting sufficient sleep and keeping stress at a minimum, and you will enjoy the fruits of your labor beyond your wildest dream. I promise.
There’s something special about this routine. Know what it is? Each of the four exercises is designed to target the lower abs. Okay! Okay! I can hear you: “Why hit the lower abs with every exercise?” Stop! Stop! Give me a chance to explain. Ready? Although the lower abs are hit hard, the upper abs are also brought into action. And because the lower abs are harder to “bring out” it is a good plan to target the lower abs with specialised movements. Get to it ladies. Failure is not an option.
SETS AND REPS
Beginners: Just do one set of each exercise at 10–15 reps.
Intermediates: Go for two sets of each movement, upping the reps to 20–30.
Advanced: The sky’s the limit. However, I wouldn’t recommend more than three sets of each exercise, but the rep count can be pushed to as high as 50 per set.
YOUR LOWER-ABS WORKOUT
1. TOES-TO-CEILING HIP RAISE
|Hold the Bench with your hands for balance
Keep your legs vertical throughout the hip-raising action
2. Reverse Crunch
|Start with the toes touching the floor
| Keep your knees bent throughout the movement.
Allow your toes to lightly kiss the floor on the downward movement.
3. Oblique Bench Crunch
| Make sure your quads stay in the vertical position.
|As you bring your shoulders off the ground,
and on the next rep, twist toward the left.