What workout has made the biggest impact on defining your abs?
I'm afraid I can't add much to this one. I'm a new lifter, so I'm trying different approaches to get the oh-so-coveted six-pack abs. I've done the Abs Diet with no luck (I'm a skinny guy, so how hard should it be?).
What's worked for you guys? With what program did you see the biggest gains in your physique?
Kinda partial to bycicling myself....or whatever the actual movement is called where your on your back with your hands behind your head and the legs are cycling out while you put opposite knee to elbow
other than that try a mix of leg lifts...sit ups and crunches
Other than that, squat 1.5 times your bodyweight, minimum (thanks Poliquin).
Best ab workout ever: heavy squat, heavy deadlift, heavy push press, heavy clean & jerk, heavy snatch. In no particular order.
Current favorite ab movement:
weighted incline abs for sets of 3-6. Use a Jerry Telle kind of angle manipulation instead of weight manipulation. Progress towards inverted ab crunches. Towards the end you'll have to have a partner hold the bench down, so it doesn't tip over and kill you.
There's a book that I bought online yeeeeears ago called "Legendary Abs." It has what is probably the most effective ab training scheme you'll ever find. You graduate to different levels, and the routines get gradually harder. Intelligently designed and extremely effective.
Do a search for Renaissance Body Development. Make sure to do the ESW Energy Systems Work as part of it... don't leave it out. This'll do it a good as anything. But the "kitchen" comment above was great as well.
Ditto on the kitchen comment. That was the first thing that came to my mind when reading the OP's comments.
That said, I'm a big fan of movements like the deadbug variations. I was turned on to them by my chiropractor I go to for ART. The birddogs with ankle weights are good too, as are ab rollouts and Saxon bends. With both of the above (and most others for that matter), keeping the abs braced throughout the movement is critical.
They won't do much, if anything for definition, but you'll build a wicked strong core and protect from back injury.
Legendary Abs is indeed a good program. A friend of mine has that program and it's a tough workout. I don't think it's necessary to put that much emphasis on your abs, but if you're really focusing on hitting them that program will work.
Diet is the main focus though. It's been said hundreds of times on this site, but it's true. Abs are made in the kitchen.
I laugh every single time im in the gym and see guys or girls on a modified "ad-doer" or leg raiser of description because the fact is this if you want aesthetically good looking abs go right ahead do your crunches and sit ups but be prepaired to suffer down the track if you have done nothing to strengthen your erector spinae group (hip extensors).
Your abs work like a rubber band, melting the band will make it hard and pull it together (working it out), strethching the band will make it longer. What i'm getting at is if you want core strength, do transverse abdominis work, if you want aesthetics do crunches/sit ups with the same amount of hyper extensions to prevent upper back curvature later in life. All the best, happy hunting.
I also forgot to mention this: You don't have to actually do sit ups or crunches to get rock hard defined abs, just activate your inner core in activities such bench press, leg press, seated row, lat pull down, to name a few.
Remember your abs are used to assist you to sit up when lying horizontally, when standing they dont play as much a role in keeping u erect as ur back muscles do, so people who say the abs are a slow twitch muscle fibre and should be worked with high reps dont no what their on about. Treat the abdominis like every other muscle lower reps, higher weight. BUT REMEMBER COUNTER BALANCE, WHAT YOU DO TO THE FRONT YOU MUST TO THE BACK TO PREVENT INJURY.
Well, there is a difference between activating your "inner core" and the "6 pack" abdominals. The latter plays a pretty small role in stabilizing bigger movements relative to the TVA. The TVA won't get you a 6 pack, you still need to be working the rectus.
And to the OP, I don't think that the "push away" diet really needs to be something you necessarily need to worry about. The guys admits to being skinny to begin with, so it's not like we're dealing with an overweight man to begin with. You might do better getting stronger and gaining more muscle all over. Don't fall into the bullshit trap of just trying to get the 6 pack. It will leave you skinny and weak.
Actually, I cannot put a time frame to it. So much depends on where one starts (BF levels).
Diet and proper eating will allow for low bf levels. Actually building great abs can be done with very little direct work. Overhead lifts are great in that regard. Squats, deadlifts, all those big lifts. Walks with dumbbell(s) overhead is great too.
Don't forget CT's ab routine http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459658 I've been doing this for a few weeks now and it's brutal. Train your abs like all your other muscles. I think going heavy with a crunch machine is very effective.