Many of us remember Gregg Valentino from the TLC documentary â€œThe Man Whose Arms Explodedâ€. What this documentary did not address is the rumor that beside overdosing his body with steroids to achieve the biggest biceps in the world he also injected oil into them for added size.
There are conficting reports from different interviews on the truth of this.
And if this isnâ€™t ridiculous enough, check out this guy, Peter Heisinger, who blatantly admits to getting his â€œmassâ€ from oil injections.
By Dr. D.N. Jackson
This is the third and final article in our New Year’s Resolution Series. Assuming that you have taken the advice from the previous two articles (#1. Take Control, #2. Maximize Anabolism), have been training hard and eating sensibly, then you should be seeing some pretty dramatic improvements in your overall condition. Summer is just around the corner and it is time to take your newly formed physique to the next level. By following this series diligently, you will have incorporated a high quality fat burner (like BioQuest’s Tetrazene ES-50, and included a timed protein loading strategy into your day. Maintain this supplement regime to be certain that your muscles are being fed and your fat cells are starving!
In this article we will focus on maximizing muscle growth and strength using creatine monohydrate. The following research based facts should easily convince you that this small addition to your current supplement stack will mean great muscular and strength gains. Overall, scientific data supports the use of creatine supplementation as an ergogenic aid for strength athletes and bodybuilders. Several studies, utilizing meta-analysis, confirm the benefits of creatine supplementation on increasing lean body mass and upper-body strength (Branch, 2003;Nissen & Sharp, 2003). Furthermore, one surefire test for the efficacy of any supplement is time and creatine monohydrate has been used successfully by many athletes for over 15 years!
Creatine, Whey Protein, Strength and Muscle Hypertrophy
Recently, a thorough double-blind study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examined the effects of whey protein isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy in 33 steroid-free recreational male bodybuilders. The resistance-trained subjects were matched for strength and placed into 1 of 4 supplement groups: creatine/carbohydrate (CrCHO), creatine/whey protein (CrWP), whey protein only (WP), or carbohydrate only (CHO). The researchers measured strength (via 1RM in three exercises), body composition (DEXA scan), muscle fiber type (biopsy from quads), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), and creatine content (Cr). The authors reported significant increases in strength (in all three exercises) and muscle hypertrophy in the CrCHO, WP, and CrWP groups compared to the CHO only group. Furthermore, up to 76% of the strength increase (in the squat exercise) was due to muscle hypertrophy (Cribb et al., 2007). The relevant finding from this investigation was that the groups who ingested creatine, whey protein isolate, or a combination thereof saw robust gains in muscular growth and strength when compared to those who ingested CHO alone. In a similar and earlier study, Burke et al. observed that males who ingested creatine and whey protein during a strength training program had greater increases in lean mass and bench press (1RM) strength than males who supplemented with whey protein alone or placebo. In fact, they reported an approximately 4kg (almost 9lb) increase in lean body mass in 12 weeks (Burke et al., 2001)!
Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Guidelines
Based on current data, the best way to supplement creatine monohydrate is by including a one week loading phase at approximately 0.3g/kg (body weight) per day followed by maintenance at approximately 0.1g/kg (body weight) per day. During the loading phase, split the daily dose into approximately 5g servings to be ingested throughout the day, making certain that one dose is ingested 30 minutes before your workout and another 4-6 hours after post-workout. During the maintenance phase, ingest one serving prior to and post-workout. As with all supplements make sure you use a high quality creatine monohydrate product (preferably German premium grade). If you want to completely exploit the benefits of creatine supplementation, then look for products that contain maltodextrin, and arginine AKG to increase creatine transport into muscle cells (such as the new SynthaTrex Xtreme). The benefits of creatine monohydrate supplementation are obvious; add this to your current and ongoing supplementation strategy and you can look forward to stronger workouts and an increased rate of skeletal muscle hypertrophy—just in time for summer!
Click here to view Article 1: Take control of the New Years Resolution Series
Click here to view Article 2: Maximize Anabolism of the New Years Resolution Series
Branch JD (2003). Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 13, 198-226.Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Davidson KS, Candow DG, Farthing J, & Smith-Palmer T (2001). The effect of whey protein supplementation with and without creatine monohydrate combined with resistance training on lean tissue mass and muscle strength. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 11, 349-364.Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Stathis CG, Carey MF, & Hayes A (2007). Effects of whey isolate, creatine, and resistance training on muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39, 298-307.
Nissen SL & Sharp RL (2003). Effect of dietary supplements on lean mass and strength gains with resistance exercise: a meta-analysis. J Appl Physiol 94, 651-659.
By Dr. D.N. Jackson
If you are reading this article, then it is safe to assume that you have read part one of this series. We are also going to assume that you followed the recommendations for supplementation, have regained momentum in your workouts, and now have your diet back under control. If this is the case, congratulations on completing a busy and meaningful month!By now your blood chemistry is back to “supreme” and if you have followed our advice, then you are ingesting a high-quality fat-burner with some appetite suppressing help (we suggested a stack of Tetrazene ES-50 and DopaTech-HGH). Keep with this regimen, as you will need continued support if you want to be ready for summer! In the following article we will offer advice pertaining to maximizing your anabolic potential throughout the day. After all, your workouts are tough and require a lot of your precious time. Thus, they should not be taken in vain.
Protein Supplements: essential anabolic agents
Although a well-known fact, it cannot be overstated that PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS WORK. However, they are not all created equal! For this stage and onward into your body transformation, it is essential that you have a stock of good quality fast, moderate, and slow digesting protein supplements. The following daily “protein stack” will set-up an environment that is certain to maximize your gains and decrease post-exercise recovery time while simultaneously aiding in reducing body fat.
Fast absorbing sources of protein should be consumed immediately after training. Reputable whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) products provide undenatured di- and tri-peptides that allow you to take advantage of the post-workout “anabolic window”. If you are looking to further maximize the anabolic state, research indicates that a mixture of high quality WPH, L- Leucine, and high-glycemic carbohydrates consumed immediately post-exercise greatly augments insulin secretion. This sets up a favorable environment of anabolism in skeletal muscle as it is known that elevating plasma insulin is imperative in stimulating protein synthesis and blunting catabolism after a bout of weight training (Manninen, 2006). If you want an additional anabolic edge, you can add L-carnitine L-tartrate (LCLT) to your post-exercise supplementation, as it has been recently shown to upregulate androgen receptor content and enhanced leuteinizing hormone secretion (Kraemer et al., 2006). In doing so, you will be completely exploiting the “anabolic window” after your workout. You may be thinking that this sounds like a confusing mixture of substrates to get together, and you are right! Fortunately, the scientists at BioQuest have done their homework and developed MyoZene, a revolutionary post-workout recovery product. MyoZene provides 25 grams of high quality WPH, high-glycemic carbohydrates, L-Leucine, and LCLT. In addition, they have added large doses of creatine monohydrate, L-Glutamine, and L-Taurine, all of which provide beneficial post-workout anabolic support. In my opinion, this product is the perfect “package-deal,” as it takes all of the guess work out of perfect post-workout supplementation.
To maintain positive nitrogen balance, protein sources with moderate digestion rates should be consumed throughout the day and immediately before workouts. The best source comes from high quality whey protein isolate (WPI) products. Consistent ingestion of WPI ensures a steady infusion of amino acids into the blood, thus attenuating catabolism and further promoting an anabolic environment throughout the day. Make sure to read the labels, as not all whey protein products are created equal. The best sources of WPI will be cross-flow micro filtered (CFM) varieties. Furthermore, a good product won’t be hiding anything. Thus, the ingredients should explicitly state the anabolic protein fractions. The benefits of consistent WPI feeding throughout the day have been documented in numerous studies. For example, in a 10 week randomized double blind resistance training study, subjects who consumed 1.5g/kg bodyweight/day of WPI had a significant decrease in fat mass and gained 11 pounds of lean body mass compared to just 2 pounds gained by subjects consuming crude casein based control protein (Cribb et al., 2002). Ideal choices are NytroWhey Extreme and NytroWhey Ultra from the premium ProSource brand. The NytroWhey protein powders contain the highest grade cross-flow micro-filtered WPI so you can be assured to get repeated bursts of amino acids when used throughout the day. In addition, one of the best tasting (and of course convenient) protein treats is the Supreme Protein bar. Powered by high grade WPI, this bar, which tastes like gourmet candy (for real) delivers 30gm of real, quality protein. This is an easy and effective way to continue delivering critical muscle building aminos throughout the day.
At bed time, in an effort to avoid a constant decline in blood amino acid levels and to take advantage of sleep induced growth hormone release it is imperative that you provide your body with a substantial dose of slow release proteins. This is best achieved by ingesting high quality micellar casein protein. Micellar casein forms a clot when it reaches the stomach and, as such, becomes a timed-release capsule of high quality protein to promote anabolism and significantly blunt catabolism while you sleep. The sustained plateau in amino acid levels (~ 7 hours) produces the best nitrogen retention and utilization in skeletal muscle (Boirie et al., 1997). Once again I recommend a premium protein from the ProSource brand. NytroPlex-GF contains a unique blend of high grade WPI, micellar casein, and egg albumen to deliver a prolonged infusion of aminos for more then 7 hours. This promotes an ideal environment for building quality muscle.
Basic Protein Loading Guidelines:
Ingest a minimum of 1 gram of supplemental protein for every pound of body weight divided in the following manner:
- 25 grams of WPH immediately after training
- 55 gram blend of WPI, micellar casein, and egg albumen immediately before bed.
- Supplement WPI for the remaining portion equally throughout the day.
Most importantly, remember to keep on training, eat well, and get lots of sleep. If you maintain this end of the bargain and follow the supplementation advice from these past two articles, you are certain to be in your best shape ever for the summer.
Click here to view Article 1: Take Control of the New Years Resolution Series
Click here to view Article 3: Maximizing Hypertrophy and Strength of the New Years Resolution Series
Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, & Beaufrere B (1997). Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 94, 14930-14935.Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Hayes A, & Carey MF (2002). The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition and plasma glutamine. Med Sci Sports Exercise 34, S229.Kraemer WJ, Spiering BA, Volek JS, Ratamess NA, Sharman MJ, Rubin MR, French DN, Silvestre R, Hatfield DL, Van Heest JL, Vingren JL, Judelson DA, Deschenes MR, & Maresh CM (2006). Androgenic responses to resistance exercise: effects of feeding and L-carnitine. Med Sci Sports Exerc 38, 1288-1296.
Manninen AH (2006). Hyperinsulinaemia, hyperaminoacidaemia and post-exercise muscle anabolism: the search for the optimal recovery drink. Br J Sports Med 40, 900-905.
By Dr. D.N. Jackson
Ok, so you didn’t follow our article explaining how to stay fit over the holidays; as such, you have eaten one too many fruit cakes, drank way too much eggnog (with rum), and skipped the gym for a month. Amidst all of the festivities, overindulgences, and lack of training you have probably packed on a few pounds of fat. Well, have no fear as this series of articles will have you back in shape and feeling great in no time. There is no doubt that you have made the New Years resolution to get fit. GREAT, because admission of the problem is the first step in taking control.
One of the major contributors to fat gain during and after the holiday season is over consumption of saturated fats and high-glycemic carbohydrates. We all know this is a recipe for disaster (but it is so fun!). Consistent overindulgence during the holidays can lead to a cascade of signaling processes in the brain that make it near impossible to feel satisfied when you resume your regular or newly formulated structured diet.
Why is it so hard to resume a healthy diet?
A recent article in PNAS discusses the signaling processes that regulate food intake and satiation (Wang et al., 2006). The authors describe it as a complex balance between excitatory and inhibitory processes. The need for nutrition (i.e., calories, water, etc.) provides the excitatory signals. Satiety signals (i.e., electrical and chemical) after eating make you feel full (Woods, 2005). In a basic sense, pressure and/or stretch in the stomach and digestive tract increases nerve activity to the brain and releases signaling molecules from the gut that reach the brain through the blood. This shifts the blood chemistry to have higher levels of cholecystokinin, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and opiates, all of which further the feeling of satiation (among other things) (Wang et al., 2006). However, like most signals to the brain, we have the capacity to habituate (i.e., desensitize) to them which perpetuates and exacerbates overeating even in acute situations like over the holidays. This desensitization of inhibitory signals is said to be one of the contributors to obesity (Wang et al., 2006).
The following article will give an outline of science backed supplements you should stock up on to get you on the fast track to health and recovery. In this article we are going to focus on supplements that get the brain back to feeling satisfied with a normal or hypocaloric diet. We will describe the best supplements for getting your blood chemistry back to superb and for turning your body into a super-tuned fat burning machine.
- 1)Konjac Glucomannan: Appetite, Blood Sugar, and Cholesterol Control
This is the ultimate post-holiday supplement. Basically, it is a soluble fiber that can take on more than 200x its weight in water. That being said, it is great for creating a feeling of “fullness” and thus suppressing the appetite. Furthermore, its water absorptive characteristics provide bulk that cleanses the digestive tract and the colon. Research has shown that glucomannan supplementation decreases serum cholesterol, triglyceride and serum lipid peroxides, while increasing the high density lipoprotein-cholesterol and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol/triglyceride values (Wang et al., 2002). In a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study, konjac glucomannan greatly improved blood lipid levels and, remarkably, alleviated elevated blood glucose levels in diabetic humans (Chen et al., 2003). Finally, in another placebo controlled trial it was confirmed that a low calorie diet yielded greater weight-loss and was better tolerated in individuals who were taking glucomannan (Cairella & Marchini, 1995). It should be noted here that commercially available glucomannan extracts vary widely in their soluble fiber content. Whereas some products contain less than 40% functional glucomannan extract, other superior products contain 90% or more. This is a crucial distinction because the stability of glucomannan viscosity in the intestine is the most important factor in establishing satiety, reducing appetite, and facilitating resultant physique transformation. You can identify a high-quality glucomannan supplement by checking its label for information on the percentage of extract contained in its formulation.2) Green Tea Extract: Metabolic Enhancer and Antioxidant
By now everyone should know the benefits of green tea extract. After all, Asians have used green tea as a “slimming tea” for centuries and it is one of the most popular beverages consumed in Asian countries. Most people attribute the thermogenic benefits of green tea to its caffeine content, but this is not entirely correct. Biochemically, green tea’s dramatic effects are due to the interaction between its high content in catechin-polyphenols and caffeine and their impact on sympathetically released norepinephrine (NE) (Dulloo et al., 2000). The synergistic action of these compounds inhibits the break-down of NE. NE is a key player in fat mobilization, lipolysis, and appetite suppression. In support of this biochemistry, it has been recently documented that the combination of regular moderate treadmill exercise and green tea extract supplementation stimulates increased whole body fat utilization; an effect that is robustly maintained long after the completion of exercise. Green tea extract increases lipolysis in the liver and in skeletal muscle (Shimotoyodome et al., 2005). More recent and supporting evidence illustrated that long-term intake of “catechin-rich” green tea extract combined with habitual aerobic exercise increases exercise endurance due to the positive impact of green tea extract on fat metabolism (Murase et al., 2006). In addition to its metabolic enhancing qualities, green tea extract is a potent antioxidant. Epigallocatechin gallate is a much better antioxidant than vitamin C and is more effective than vitamin E in cell protection and repair. After the holidays you just had, you will need all of the protection and repair you can get.Here, too, you should be aware that green tea formulations run the gamut from clearly superior products rich in nutrient content to others that are utter junk. Generally speaking, you should look for a product high in overall polyphenol content and high in active EGCG content. Inferior products will usually list green tea on their labels without specifying EGCG content. Even more alarmingly, some green tea formulations may list high amounts of EGCGs on their labels, but actually test out at much lower percentages than claimed. When purchasing green tea products, try to stick with a reputable manufacturer you can trust.
While we’re on this subject, it seems that the folks at BioQuest have done their homework and formulated a synergistic blend of highest-quality glucomannan and EGCG-rich green tea to create a perfect weight-loss support supplement. Tetrazene ES-50 contains up to 93% functional konjac glucomannan extract from the world’s premier supplier of the compound. At the same time, the premium-grade green tea extract in Tetrazene ES-50 is particularly rich in highly active EGCG content. In addition, BioQuest has added premium grade caffeine and vinpocetine to potentiate the fat burning process and maintain vascular health. The synergy of these ingredients is supported by vitamin B6, biotin, glutamine, and olive leaf extract; thus, creating a diet aid that is second to none.
One final note for those of you who really want to turbo-charge your diet. Remember at the onset of this article we discussed signaling molecules for the brain that give us the feeling of satiation. Well if you really want to take advantage of those pathways stack Tetrazene ES-50 with Prosource Performance DopaTech-HGH. The impact of the Macuna pruriens in DopaTech-HGH on serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels will make reaching your goals that much easier. Good luck!
Click here to view Article 2: Maximize Anabolism of the New Years Resolution Series
Click here to view Article 3: Maximizing Hypertrophy and Strengthof the New Years Resolution Series
Cairella M & Marchini G (1995). [Evaluation of the action of glucomannan on metabolic parameters and on the sensation of satiation in overweight and obese patients]. Clin Ter 146, 269-274.Chen HL, Sheu WH, Tai TS, Liaw YP, & Chen YC (2003). Konjac supplement alleviated hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects–a randomized double-blind trial. J Am Coll Nutr 22, 36-42.Dulloo AG, Seydoux J, Girardier L, Chantre P, & Vandermander J (2000). Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine and sympathetic activity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 24, 252-258.
Murase T, Haramizu S, Shimotoyodome A, Tokimitsu I, & Hase T (2006). Green tea extract improves running endurance in mice by stimulating lipid utilization during exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 290, R1550-R1556.
Shimotoyodome A, Haramizu S, Inaba M, Murase T, & Tokimitsu I (2005). Exercise and green tea extract stimulate fat oxidation and prevent obesity in mice. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37, 1884-1892.
Wang GJ, Yang J, Volkow ND, Telang F, Ma Y, Zhu W, Wong CT, Tomasi D, Thanos PK, & Fowler JS (2006). Gastric stimulation in obese subjects activates the hippocampus and other regions involved in brain reward circuitry. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103, 15641-15645.
Wang Z, Yang L, Liu H, & Tan X (2002). [Effects of refined konjac meal on lipid metabolism and blood viscosity of rats fed by high fat forage]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 31, 120-121. Woods SC (2005). Signals that influence food intake and body weight. Physiol Behav 86, 709-716.
By Ash Batheja, MPT, CSCS
Open up any fitness magazine, and you’ll likely be bombarded with the latest in abdominal training gadgetry and “ultra-secretive” training methods for a perfect six-pack. In reality, there aren’t any hidden secrets or magic philosophies, only smart training. It’s training based on knowledge of body mechanics and your own anatomy, hardly confidential topics. But it’s just smart enough that you might call it radical.
Without a doubt, poor abdominal training routines found in mass media outlets grossly outnumber those workouts specialized for the chest, shoulder, and back. Why? Because everybody wants a six-pack! Forget that abdominal training alone will do nothing to reduce the fat in this area without proper diet, general weight training, and cardio exercise – every new routine is “better” and “different.” Sure it is. Unfortunately, most of them focus exclusively on rectus abdominus training (the upper abs), while neglecting the exceedingly important lower abs and obliques. Now, these routines may claim that their exercises target these muscles, but it’s actually quite difficult to target them effectively. Conversely, training the rectus abdominus is easy. Any type of crunch will work fine (be it forward, reverse, or hanging from your toes), and even those “crunches with a twist” work mostly this muscle, not the obliques (those cool-looking ab muscles on your sides). That’s the entire problem.
Too much rectus abdominis training actually leads to a thicker, stodgier midsection, but the real danger is in developing muscle imbalances that lead to back pain and excessive anterior pelvic tilt, which, despite all your earnest ab training, makes you look like you have a gut! It’s the crucial lower abs and obliques that are actually more important for not only preventing back pain, but also contributing to a lean, powerful midsection and a properly aligned pelvis.
Master the Tilt
The cure for this imbalance, and the key to a set of great looking abdominals, involves the use of the absolute cornerstone of all abdominal training exercises - the pelvic tilt. The pelvic tilt is actually a simple exercise, but there is an endless array of progressions and advancements that make it the most versatile abdominal exercise in your training arsenal. Let’s start with the most basic version. It involves lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Now, place one hand directly beneath your lower back, arching your back upwards if necessary (just keep your hips and glutes flat on the floor). This is not the pelvic tilt. I’m only describing this maneuver because, after doing it, understanding how to perform a pelvic tilt is much easier. To do the tilt, take your hand out from underneath your back and now flatten your back, pushing it directly into the floor. You should not be able to get your hand between the floor and your back now. So, what you’ve essentially done is performed a posterior tilt (your pelvis rolled back towards your upper body). The next step is to suck in your abdomen (suck in hard!) so you eliminate rectus abdominus activity. Your upper abdomen should feel soft, ensuring that only the lower abs and obliques are performing the pelvic tilt.
If this is hard to maintain, meaning your upper abs keep contracting and getting in the way, you really need to work only on this simple exercise. Hold this position for five seconds (while breathing normally) and try to do it 50 times a day for two weeks. This will teach your body to recruit muscles other than the rectus abdominus when training your abs, playing sports, or performing complex exercises. For most people, however, it should be rather simple. Once you’ve mastered it, you can now bring your legs up off the ground (knees bent), maintaining the pelvic tilt. This is the base position for all other stages in the series. From here, slowly lower one leg at a time (knees bent) in an alternating fashion.
Seem easy? Not so fast. You need to check your back position and monitor your upper abdominal activity as you’re lowering your legs. If your back inches up off the floor as you’re lowering them, or you feel your upper abs tightening up, you’re either losing your pelvic tilt or your rectus abdominus is taking over. This defeats the entire purpose of the exercise, and it may mean that you need to begin with only the pelvic tilt itself. Or, it simply means you need to concentrate a little harder. In any event, once you’re able to perform 15 solid repetitions for each leg, it’s time to move on to stage three, and eventually stages four and five. Here’s a breakdown of all five stages:
- Stage 1: Isolation Pelvic Tilt. Perform five to ten second holds, 50 repetitions.
Stage 2: Pelvic Tilt with alternate leg lowering (knees bent). Once able to perform 15 consecutive repetitions with each leg, move on to stage 3.
Stage 3: Pelvic Tilt while lowering both legs simultaneously (knees bent). Once able to perform 15 consecutive repetitions while maintaining the pelvic tilt, move on to stage 4.
Stage 4: Pelvic Tilt while alternately extending each leg maximally (knees straight). Once able to perform 15 consecutive repetitions while maintaining the pelvic tilt, move on to stage 5.
Stage 5: Pelvic Tilt while extending both legs simultaneously (knees straight). This is tough!
For each stage, a solid workout routine would entail performing about 30-40 repetitions total, split up over 3-6 sets. This will require about 5-12 reps per set, or as many as possible before you lose the ability to maintain the pelvic tilt. As stated, once you can perform 15 consecutive reps, move up to the next level.
Now, don’t go thinking you can jump straight to stage five and master the movement. I see too many people in the gym performing exercises like it with absolutely no regard for their pelvic position, not to mention they perform it so fast it makes me nauseated. Remember, your pelvis should be motionless while performing these exercises. If not, your lower abs and obliques are not contracting effectively enough to maintain pelvic position and support your back.
For most trainees, stage two or three is a good starting point, although in some instances, an individual may need to begin at the first stage. Most are unable to begin at stage four, and only in rare cases is someone adept and strong enough to immediately master stage five. Start at the stage that suits you, and plan on staying at each level for about two weeks. Perform the exercises daily or every other day, and soon you’ll be able to take on the next set of exercises, which is covered next.
The pelvic tilt can also be done while standing, which is actually a more functional method of performing it. Here’s how it’s done: Imagine yourself having a tail and tucking it underneath you, between your legs. Stand with your back flat against the wall, feet shoulder width apart and about one foot from the wall. Notice the gap between the wall and your low back – you should be able to easily slip your hand in there. Now assume the “tail-under” position and your back should flatten out nicely against the wall. You should no longer be able to put your hand between the wall and your back. Now suck in that abdomen. Very good. You just performed a pelvic tilt in the standing position, and now you should also be able to perform it without the assistance of a wall.
Okay, now that you’ve entered another level of abdominal training, performing the following exercises with proper pelvic position is all you need for killer abs. Chances are, you’ve already done some or all of these exercises, but you just haven’t bothered to focus on pelvic position. So, if you get out of position (if you lose the “tilt”), you’ve defeated the entire purpose of the exercise. And I can’t stress enough that you should have the previous set of exercises mastered first – you are now entering advanced training! Now let’s get to it.
Medicine Ball Tosses – First of all, you obviously need a medicine ball, and not all gyms carry them. No worries though, you can find them at most sporting goods stores. An 8-12 lb. ball is ideal, and you’ll also need a partner. Now, suck in that abdomen and perform the tilt so your back is in a nice, neutral position. You don’t want to round out your back so you’re almost bent over, so keep a straight alignment. Then, using the power of your abs (not your arms!), rotate your trunk forcefully and throw the ball to your partner. You should also throw it so your partner has to reach to the side and catch it at the same time, rotating his/her body with the catch. This will challenge the abs in an eccentric (negative) fashion. And now it’s your turn to catch it the same way. Try three sets of ten tosses each.
The Chop – You will utilize pulleys for this awesome maneuver. First make sure you place a pulley attachment above the level of your head, and stand so one side (let’s start with the right side) of your body is facing the weight stack. Now, reach your left arm across your body and your face (like you’re sniffing your arm pit) and grab the attachment. Also grab it with your right hand. Of course you now need to suck in your gut and perform the tilt, and then use your trunk rotators to turn your entire upper body and torso left (don’t use your arms). Crunch hard with those obliques! Perform three sets of 15 reps for each side.
Shoulder Presses with Sidebend – These aren’t just for your delts anymore. These can be done in the standing position using the pelvic tilt and drawing-in maneuver, but I also like doing them seated with a back support. Now, I don’t actually use the support except to use it as a guide to maintain my back alignment. Basically I make sure my low back stays in light contact with the pad at all times. If you let your back arch and come away from the pad, your pelvis just rolled forward and took your abs with it, right out of the equation. The twist? Perform alternate raises (one arm at a time) while performing a sidebend. In other words, as you raise the dumbbell in your right hand, you perform an upper body sidebend to the left. Try three sets of 8-12 reps for each side.
Scissors – Lie on your back, maintain a firm pelvic tilt and drawn-in abdomen, and (slowly!) kick your legs out alternately. This exercise is performed in the gym all the time, but rarely is it ever performed with even a passing regard for pelvic position. Also, most people do it so fast I often think they might take flight. So slow it down and keep your low back glued to the floor. Perform 15-25 reps, 3 sets.
Planks – Think you can perform a pelvic tilt against gravity? Try lying on your stomach and than raising yourself on your elbows and toes. You’ll notice that your low back likes to sag in this position. You won’t work your abs effectively unless you now perform a pelvic tilt, which is the next step. Suck in your abdomen and notice your back flatten (straighten). Do this next to a mirror to insure your entire torso is a straight line, and hold it for 10 seconds. If this isn’t challenging, raise one leg a few inches off the floor and hold it 10 seconds, alternating legs. Try three sets on each leg.
These five exercises can make a fantastic abdominal routine that can be performed just one to two times per week. But don’t limit yourself to just these five. Make a habit of maintaining perfect pelvic posture with all exercises. Especially now that you see how simple it is to perform a pelvic tilt in lying, sitting, and standing positions. So, quite naturally, these lessons can be applied to lying exercises such as triceps extensions and bench presses, and sitting and standing exercises such as curls, presses, and rows. Easy enough, isn’t it? Sure, and you can now consider yourself smarter and stronger, so be sure to pass on the message to those less fortunate.
Getting Lean: Dropping the Fat
If developing a perfect midsection was as easy as following these exercises, there wouldn’t be a need for all those “super-secret” abdominal training articles in major magazines. If you can’t strip the layer of fat from atop your beautiful set of abs, all the training in the world is worthless. This is where a proper diet and additional training is mandatory.
Want to strip the fat? You’ve got to kick-start your metabolism by eating protein-rich meals six times daily and performing high-intensity cardio exercise. In addition to general weight training, these are the best methods for raising your metabolism and stripping fat fast. Start by eating a big breakfast. People tend to lose more fat when they eat a protein-rich breakfast, and it also stimulates necessary elevations in metabolic rate. Avoid eating high-fat meals and also avoid eating carbohydrates alone. Always pair fat and carbs with lean protein sources. Monitor your weight weekly to adjust your caloric intake as necessary.
High intensity cardio exercise (fast running) is probably the best method for reducing fat fast. Not only does it burn calories, but it also spurs the release of hormones that burn fat, and of course, raises the metabolism. Don’t worry about how long you go, just run at what you consider a fast pace, and slowly work up to 20-30 minutes. That’s all you need. You can also try interval training – running very fast for 30 seconds, then slow to a walking pace, repeating every few minutes over the course of a half-hour. Each of these methods beats the weak alternative of a slow-paced cardio program. The only thing you lose with that is your sanity.Good luck.