T Nation

Ab Troubles

I have noticed something odd about my abdominal development and was hoping I could get some tips and ideas about this:
I have been working my abs well for the last 3 or 4 months (didn’t bother much with them before that) and have gotten a some development, but it seems a bit irregular. Only my top set of abs have grown, the middle and lower sets are firm, but there is no noticable definition or growth! I have been doing pretty good ab workouts too, using mostly CTs articles as a guide. If anyone has any insight on this or any tips to concentrate on only the lower abs they would be appreciated. Oh and if recommending exercises try to pick ones that I can do with free weights at home, I don’t have access to any gym equipment until September.

Try this exercise. Go to the mirror with your shirt off. Now find the fatty looking back at you…did you find him yet? I’m only joking, making light of the situation dawg. Most likely you are seeing ab development in the upper portion of your abs because you lose the fat there first. Continue cutting and the lower portion will come into view.

heh thanks for info. i should have mentioned, i am 5’8" 160, so i’m not heavy. i put up some pictures 3 or 4 weeks ago, check them out for reference: http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=475418

slimjim has a good point nonetheless, you need to get even leaner still to really see a well-defined six pack…

fair enough, and to be honest, i haven’t done a cutting cycle in … well ever. i have always been trying to gain, but i am going to start my first ever cutting cycle in another 3 weeks or so. maybe things will change after cutting a bit, but the way they look i was thinking it was more of a lack of building them properly as opposed to having to cut down on fat. thanks for the replies, keep 'em comin!

slimjim sent me an extremely informative PM and has allowed me to add it to the thread. it answered my question and i felt if anyone else had similar questions it could help them as well:

the following is a section from Charles Staley’s “Truth about Abs” Book

"Myth #3 You have to focus on your lower abs, which are the hardest area to develop

Fact: Ah, the dreaded “lower abs” muth! If you’re like most people, Mother Nature prefers to deposit your abdominal fat below your navel. This leads to the never-ending search for the perfect “low ab” exervise. But wait! Unfortunately, there is no direct metabolic pathway to the lower portion of your rectus abdominus muscle and the fat layer on top of it!

Bear with me as we do a bit of anatomy here: Physiologically, the rectus abdominus muscle spans the distance from your sternum to your pelvis-this muscle does not have a “lower” and an “upper” section(although it does have between 2-4 tendinous “intersecitions” along it’s length-hence the term “6-pack”). Interestingly, the lower section of this muscle does indeed have a seperate nerve supply than the upper portion, leading some to speculate that one can devise specific training drills that target the “lower abs.” I disagree: assume a crunch position on the floor and place one hand on your upper abs and the other on your lower abs so that you can feel the muscle s contract as you perform a crunch. As you curl yourself up into the crunch you’ll feel both portions of your rectus abdominus contract simultaneously. And, as noted before, even if you could preferentially target your so-called lower abs through a particular exercvise, who cares? The fat onh top of your abs(or anywhere else for that matter) will decrease only when you’ve created an energy deficit by decreasing calories and/or increasing your activity levels. Most ab exercises burn relatively few calories compared to big compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups."

Thanks to slimjim for being helpful and also allowing me to post part of his PM.

if there is any problem with me posting part of mr. staley’s book please delete it or let me know to delete it.

Everyone who has posted here is right-- to see your lower abs you need to lose bodyfat. In my opinion you do not need to do a cutting cycle right now, you need to really concentrate on adding some serious meat to your legs and balance out your physique.

Of course, if you want to look like you walked into the gym on an ostrich, that’s your decison. :slight_smile: PM me if you need help setting up a leg program.


RIT Jared

Just to add to Staley’s thoughts on lower ab development, I recently read Stuart McGill’s book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, and he covers abs in there because of their importance to stabilizing the spine. He said that in his research, with EMG machines and whatever other advanced equipment he used, that he found there’s no such thing as upper and lower abdominals, there’s just rectus abdominus.

He said the two reasons that people think they can specifically work the “lower abs” are a) some people have excellent motor control and appear to have some ability to control upper and lower portions independently, and b) we have a vestigal muscle called the pyramidalus that is below rectus abdominus but is absent, mal or half-formed in much of the population, and it is likely this muscle’s activation that has fooled other research with EMG equipment into concluding there are “lower abs.”

But as far as training goes, rectus adbominus functions as a whole and there’s really no benefit to trying to train upper and lower portions independently.