How To Develop A Tapered Waistline

by Robert Osgoodby

WARNING!! Always seek the advice of a Medical Doctor before starting, or making changes in your diet or exercise program.

Did you know that over 90% of all women and over 80% of all men are dissatisfied with some aspect of their bodies? Of all of the body parts and muscle groups, guess what the number one complaint area is? By the title of this month's newsletter, I'm sure the answer won't surprise you. Having a flatter stomach and ripped midsection was at the top of the majority's wish list.

Your abdominal area is your visual center. In studies of eye movement, it is a fact that our eyes are drawn back to the middle of any object we are looking at. On the human body, this means that the main focus and visual emphasis is on the abdomen. So remember, when you are in a bathing suit, no matter how impressive your other body parts may be, peoples eyes spend more time on your abs than any other region. Since men carry a large supply of fat cells in this area compared to women, this type of visual emphasis can be a scary thought for the male species!

This article is dedicated to show you several things you can immediately incorporate into your diet and exercise program to make your visual center more attractive for summer. Let's get started.

There is a lot of controversy and conflicting opinions on whether or not you should use weight while training your abs. One school of thought is that you should not use weight and just do more repetitions. The reasoning behind this opinion is that if you use weight, you will build muscle mass in your waist and it will not be tapered. When you have a ripped, narrow waste it tends to make your other body parts appear more impressive. Most bodybuilders do not use weight in their ab training routine.

Another school of thought is that you should use weight to train your abs. The reason for this opinion is the tiny increase in the circumference of your waist is well worth the visual improvement that incorporating weights into your ab exercises will provide, and really helps you put the finishing touches on your waist. If you choose to use weight in your ab program, use a light amount.

Other areas where there are conflicting opinions are how many sets and reps of each exercise you should do, and how many times a week you should train your waist. If you are a beginner who has been training for at least one month, do three sets of each exercise to muscle failure. Keep going until you feel the burn and can't do another rep. If you are at an intermediate or advanced level, do four sets of each exercise to muscle failure.

Some people believe that abs can and should be trained every day or every other day. I used to agree, but after reviewing some pretty convincing research, I have to change my stance. Your abs are a muscle, just like every other muscle group and need the proper amount of rest and recovery for maximum results. Train your abs twice a week like every other muscle group and give them at least 72 hours rest before you train them again. For my clients whose personalized program has them training waist three times a week, cut it back to two for maximum results.

Your midsection is made up of four muscle groups, the rectus abdominus, obliques, serratus, and intercostal muscles.

The rectus abdominus is the row of washbord-like muscles in the center of your midsection. When someone talks about a six-pack of abs, they are referring to well-defined rectus abdominus muscles. The rectus abdominus is the primary muscle you use when you are doing a sit-up or forward crunch. They pull your chest towards your pelvis.

There are several great exercises you can use to train your rectus abdominus. Like several other muscle groups including the lats and pecs, certain exercises focus on the upper section of the muscle group and certain exercises focus on the lower section.

One of the best exercises for the upper section of the rectus abdominus is the forward crunch. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Bend your knees up and put both feet flat on the floor. Putting your legs in this position will flatten your lumbar curve and take all the pressure of your lower back. Next raise your head and shoulders off the floor, pulling them towards your knees. Concentrate and focus on contracting the upper section of your rectus abdominus muscle. This is a short movement and you don't want to come all the way up.

Through the entire exercise, your lower back should remain firmly on the floor. Most gyms also have several exercise machines that mimic the motion of the forward crunch and focus on those upper rectus abdominus muscles.

Leg Raises are a great exercise for the lower rectus abdominus. Leg raises can be done in a variety of positions including sitting, hanging or lying on your back. Most gyms have a leg raise chair or machine. If they don't, lay on your back on the lying hamstring machine, tuck your feet under the leg pads and bring your knees up to your chest. This exercise can also be done on the floor or on a sit-up board without using weight.

Another great exercise for the lower section of the RA is seated leg tucks. This is a sitting variation of the leg raise. Sit at the end of a weight bench with your knees bent and legs hanging over the end. Bring your knees up toward your chest.

The obliques are the muscles that help you bend from side to side and rotate the torso. When people speak about love handles, they are usually speaking about fat deposits in the oblique area. A great way to train your obliques is using side crunches on a hyperextension bench. Tuck your feet and lower legs under the leg pad so that your left hip is down and level with the top of the hyperextension bench. Clasp your hands behind your head and bend at the waist as far as you can towards the floor. Next raise your upper body upwards as high as you can (pivoting at the waist) and contract the muscles in your waist concentrating on contracting the obliques on the right. Don't forget to switch positions and train the muscles on the left side.

You can train your serratus and intercostal muscles using a modified version of the side crunch. Instead of pivoting at the waist, use a shorter seesaw motion and pivot higher at the level just below your armpit. This motion places a higher concentration on the intercostal and serratus muscles, rather than the obliques.

You can also train your obliques, intercostals, and serratus using seated twists with a broomstick behind your neck. These can be done on a hyperextension bench or sit-up board. Tuck your feet under the lower leg pad, lean back at approximately a 45 degree angle and twist at the waist from side to side in a rotary fashion.

Hyperextensions are a great exercise to develop the muscles in your lower back. They are much safer than Good Mornings using free weight. The lower back is one of the most ignored muscle groups when it comes to waist training, but the results hyperextensions produce are well worth the extra effort. They really help narrow your waist and finish the product.

To have a great waist your diet is also a big piece to the puzzle. You can have rock hard, well developed abs, but if their hidden underneath a layer of fat, they can't be seen. No matter how hard you train, your abs will never be visible and impressive unless you get your body fat percentage low enough. A low fat, calorie restricted diet will help finish the package and bring everything together.

Another great abdominal tool is the AbRoller. This neat piece of equipment makes sure you are using proper form, takes the stress of your lower back and can be purchased at any sporting goods store for less than $100.00. Most gyms and health clubs have several of them. The AbRoller comes with a videotape which shows you exactly how to use it for forward crunches, leg lifts, and side crunches. I personally use it and highly recommend it especially if you are a novice or suffer with lower back pain.

Last but not least, there are many good ab specific exercise video tapes like "8 Minute Abs" and "Abs Of Steel." These programs can all be done in the comfort of your own home - all you need is a VCR. Many aerobic exercise tapes also have an ab program at the end of the tape.

The following is a sample intermediate/advanced program for training your waist:

Forward Crunches - 4 sets to muscle failure
Leg Raises - 4 sets to muscle failure
Side Crunches - 4 sets to muscle failure
Seated Twists - 4 sets to muscle failure
Hyperextensions - 4 sets to muscle failure

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