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Travis D. in LA wants ABS. He's 53, 5'10" weighs 155. Todd Y. is fed up with his unlovable love handles. He's 31, medium build. They both do the usual drill. Guys, have you tried the tuna and water diet for 6 weeks, dropping your bodyweight to 120lbs and doing 500 crunches and leg raises a day along with scream therapy and wind sprints every morning at 6am? A little harsh I agree but has potential. No? Ok, here are some other thoughts.

Ladies, your attention, too, please. Your abdominal and oblique area will definitely improve as you continue to apply yourself. My mid-section has become stronger and more muscular in the most recent years. First, I stopped thinking of the all too illusive "abdominals" and began thinking of trunk development - for stability and full body power. This change of perception gave me more purpose to train the mid-section. The stretching, focus and athletic warm-up added to my motivation; the constant and intense movement afforded legitimate aerobic value. Considering all these benefits I came to enjoy the movements - improvising bench angles and body stabilizing positions, contraction and extension rhythm and exercise combinations. Soon I brought in weighted exercises for warm-ups to prepare me for my forthcoming bodypart workout. The whole blend of movements over the seasons - the pump, the burn, the ability to locate, isolate and contract specific areas (oblique, intercostal and abdominal ranges) gave me more than agreeable results.

I like weighted crunches mixed with high rep unweighted crunches, all within one set of 200 on a 10% angle. I arrange a bench under a Smith press and hook my heals over the bar for stability. I assume a suitable position and breathe in. From full flat, hands behind the head, I exhale and intensely contract the abs, rolling up into a "C" position, without momentum, without the flat of the back coming off the bench risking the lower back. 25 reps to the front, 25 to the right, 25 to the left, engaging abs, intercostals and obliques in the process. I then put the flat of my foot on the bar and repeat the count, this time raising my hips by foot pressure to meet the rolling contraction. Intense muscle activity is accomplished (I call this the super crunch). I then add in the final reps with a 10 or 25lb plate.

These reps when performed with rhythm and beat build momentum and are meditative. They are not done fast as I see some do them; fast is abusive, agitating and shallow. Work the mid-section, abs, et al, as you would work your biceps or any other part with concentration, depth and interest - almost curiosity.

Train, of course, according to your own physical condition. Guys, you might try the incline at the height of a 4 inch block, 10 reps to the front, left and right, shift foot position and do the super crunch for the same sequence. Practice with an appropriate weight, a 5 or 10lb plate. It takes some time to get to know the elaboration of the standard crunch action, worth the time and practice.

Swing around and put your hands on the end of the bench, backside comfortably on your hands to ease low back stress. Do leg raises to near failure, 20-25, whatever, and repeat. Magnificent.

Hanging leg raises using AbOriginal straps are dynamite for the lower ab region, groin-hip-flexor area, 4x15-25 reps, no swinging.

Another thought…rope tucks are super torso builders. There are so many variations of body positioning to get the whole upper body warmed up, pumped and near thoroughly conditioned. Be inventive, 4x25-35 reps using mixed positions. No lunging with bodyweight to ease the work. Use the muscle.

Hyperextensions for the spinalis, hams and glutes make a nice addition twice a week, 3-4 sets x15-20 reps. Muscle up with no momentum.

Don't forget, this is not just abs. This is extensive torso muscle building to accommodate your training and practical daily activities. Maybe you better tune in to the general nutrition page and remind yourselves of the basics. Those stubborn love handles - we hate them - represent fat that must be burned off by continuing this type of intense training. Sorry.

About the tuna and water…I wasn't really kidding. We'll talk about that another time. Have fun.




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