T Nation

Ab Exercise: Weighted or Bodyweight?

First off, I know that your diet is one of the, if not, the most important thing to getting defined, visible abs.

With that said, I have a few questions after reading a bunch of posts and articles.

I want abs that are defined without having to flex but at the same time have a small waist and not look blocky. My diet is currently very strict, so:

Should I do weighted exercises to get better definition?
Or should I just stick to bodyweight exercises?
Also, will doing vacuums help make my stomach smaller (what other exercises will do this)?

I plan on doing decline crunches, V-ups, reverse crunches/leg lifts, and vacuums. Is this a good start? What else should I add?

[quote]thoughts1053 wrote:
First off, I know that your diet is one of the, if not, the most important thing to getting defined, visible abs.

With that said, I have a few questions after reading a bunch of posts and articles.

I want abs that are defined without having to flex but at the same time have a small waist and not look blocky. My diet is currently very strict, so:

Should I do weighted exercises to get better definition?
Or should I just stick to bodyweight exercises?
Also, will doing vacuums help make my stomach smaller (what other exercises will do this)?

I plan on doing decline crunches, V-ups, reverse crunches/leg lifts, and vacuums. Is this a good start? What else should I add?[/quote]

Muscle definition = size + low Bf%

No exercise can change the form/shape of you muscles, they can simply shrink or grow. Nothing else.

The role of the rectus abdomis is to prevent torso flexion/rotation.

The best way to train a muscle is to do whatever the muscle was designed to do in the first place, for the Abs that would be movements where the torso needs to be stabilized against heavy overload : Squats, DLs, any kind of overhead pressing, any kind of Olympic lifting

If you ask to chose specifically between weighted and bodyweight only movements, weighted wins.

There is nothing short of an expensive operation that will make your stomach smaller

If your mid section seems to be too big and you have your diet in check, the only reason is that everything else is too small in comparison. The solution is to put on mass all over.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:
The role of the rectus abdomis is to prevent torso flexion/rotation.[/quote]

The rectus abdominus is used for torso flexion and prevents torso extension.

Weighted crunches(and other exercises) are best because the abs are mostly fast twitch fibers. I learned this from some article on here idk what.
Anyways do squats also they work the abs through stabilization.

So it seems like weighted ab work wins over non-weighted ab work.

As for making my stomach smaller, I just mean as in the vacuum pose/exercise. I know Arnold and Zane liked to incorporate it into their ab routines.

Do them stomach vacuums all day long until it becomes natural.

[quote]skw wrote:
Do them stomach vacuums all day long until it becomes natural.[/quote]

Uh… vacuum pose works the transverse abdominis (sp?), which is the muscle that holds in your gut. Unless you’re actually competing with it (and you’re not, because no competitive bodybuilder does it anymore) it’s probably a waste of training time.

If you’ve got the time, go for it. Otherwise, do some HIIT and shed the fat.

I find the vacuum to be tremendously useful. The transverse abdominis (TVA) muscle acts as the body’s natural corset. A strong TVA will pull your tummy tight all the time, even when you are relaxed.

Do vacuums lying (with arms above head, perpendicular to the floor, pointing at ceiling), lying (with arms above head, parallel to the floor, pointing behind you), seated, and standing (this is in order of difficulty for me).

Additionally, think about why you are doing decline crunches. At the gym, they seem to be one of the most misunderstood exercises.

The reason to crunch on a decline is because it increases the range of motion (you can go beyond where the floor would stop you if you were on a flat surface)… it also adds resistance, but this is less important for now. Yet, I see everyone at the gym crunching on a STEEP incline, yet going down only a couple of degrees (not even to where the floor would stop them). If you will use a decline, go down ALL the way (to RIGHT before when your back will hit the bench).

The other tip that I have is to emphasize the eccentric portion of crunches. Instead of doing a million crunches, do 3 crunches where you lower yourself as slowly as possible.

Shoot for 3 crunches with 30 seconds of lowering, and explosive lifting (the “positive” or “eccentric” or “crunch” portion is as close to immediate as possible). If you can do 3, then increase the time to 40 seconds or add a rep, or something.

CAUTION: when doing eccentric-emphasized decline crunches, don’t put stress on your back by rounding your back. Keep your shoulders back and your neck in line with your spine at all times, even though this forces you to be working HARD with your abs. That is the point!

If you can’t do this cleanly, safely, and in control of your upper body, you should reduce the length of the lowering phase by a few seconds or do one fewer rep…

let me know how this goes!
Dan

I was doing some weighted ab work last night and it felt uncomfortable. I grabbed a 35lb wieght and put it on my chest for crunches. Also, used it for side bends and Saxxon side bends (which I could barely do). For the Saxxon side bends, should I lower the wieght or was I just fatigued since that was the last exercise I did?

Also, I was messing around with the Vacuum exercise and was not sure of the proper way to do it. Do you just pull in your stomach or actually create a vacuum? With the former, I feel it in my lower/middle abs and the top ones don’t come in. When I do the latter, I feel it in my middle/upper abs and my upper abs actually come in under my ribs (somewhat like Zane but not nearly as much).

[quote]thoughts1053 wrote:
Also, used it for side bends and Saxxon side bends (which I could barely do). For the Saxxon side bends, should I lower the wieght or was I just fatigued since that was the last exercise I did?[/quote]

Read through some articles and saw that with Saxxon bends, you need to lower the weight. It is suprising how little weight needs to be used.

For vacuums, my trainer taught me to visualize trying to touch my navel to my spine. Easy enough to this in your car as you’re driving.