The rectus abdominis and obliques are the abdominal muscles in your stomach. The rectus abdominis runs from the chest to the pelvis and the obliques are on the sides. If your stomach lacks definition and you want to build big abdominal muscles fast, you need to go about it the right way. Performing ab exercises is definitely part of the game plan, but you also have to involve other body parts.
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Incorporate Compound Exercises
Perform compound exercises to increase muscle mass throughout your entire body and to build stomach muscles. Compound exercises work more than one muscle at a time which leads to fast size and growth. They also require you to forcefully engage your abs to generate power and remain in good form. Do exercises like dumbbell chest presses, barbell shoulder presses, pull-ups, dips, squats and deadlifts. Take one day off in between workouts and train three days a week. Perform 10 to 12 reps and three to four sets with the heaviest weights you can lift.
Exercise Your Whole Abdomen
Exercise all regions of your stomach. Do exercises for your lower abs, upper abs and obliques to ensure you target your whole abdominal area. Hanging leg raises, knee pull-ins, side bends, bicycle crunches, stability ball crunches and v-ups are examples.
Use Proper Form
Execute proper form with your exercises, says the American Council on Exercise. Take the hanging leg raise for example. Hang from the bar with your legs straight down toward the floor. Keep your legs together, lift them up in a steady, but not fast, motion and stop when they at least parallel the floor. Squeeze your abs forcefully for a full second, slowly lower your legs back down and repeat. Exhale as you lift your legs and inhale as you lower them. Apply these same techniques to all of your ab exercises.
Add Resistance for Max Effect
Add resistance to get a maximal amount of muscle fiber recruitment. Wear ankle weights with leg lifting exercises and hold dumbbells, barbells or a medicine ball in your hands with exercises that involve your torso, such as side bends and stability ball crunches.
Aim for Quality Not Quantity
Sacrifice quantity for quality. Doing hundreds of sloppy reps with your exercises will not produce quality results. Keep your reps in the 15 to 20 range and aim for three to four sets with each exercise. Increase resistance with your exercises as soon as you are able to do 20 reps easily. Work your abs three days a week and take at least one day off in between to prevent over-training.
Get a Move On
Reduce the fat on your stomach by doing cardio at least 150 to 300 minutes a week according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Perform any type of cardio you enjoy, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or kickboxing for 30 to 45 minutes at a moderate intensity. Work your abs right after your cardio sessions.
Sleep the Night Away
Improve your sleeping habits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Make sure to meet these guidelines to help promote muscle recovery and to keep your body energized during your workouts.