Archive for October, 2011

the transverse abdominals beautifully displayed

SECRETS TO A FLAT TUMMY Working the Transverse Abdominals

Ladies, ever wonder why you never seem to get that flat stomach when you’re relaxed?  No matter how effectively you work your abs typically you will be working them in just one direction, up and down, or, more properly along the length of the rectus abdominus. But what about the abdominals that go from side to side? Can we exercise those?  Well, yes you can, the transverse abdominals (TA) flatten the tummy from side to side, so read on because I’ve got some information to share with you about working your Transverse Abdominals.

The TA complex belong to a group of core muscles that lie below the rectus abdominus and are often neglected in standard ab routines. Typically most abdominal exercises target the vertical rectus abdominus largely ignoring the horizontal transverse abdominals. Even crunches, the staple of most abdominal workouts, do nothing for the transverse abdominals. This group of muscles connect to both the lower back and the rectus abdominus to form a powerful support for the entire abdomen. Any routine aimed at flattening the stomach should include the transverse abdominals as a focus. Using the following exercises, you can target your transverse abdominals and really make progress towards that flat tummy.

Transverse Abdominal Crunch
Lie face up on a mat and plant your feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart, maintain contact between the mat and the small of your back. With the fingers of both hands find the tips of your hip bones on either side of your tummy. Move your fingers inwards slightly towards your centre line just off the hip bone, don’t worry your hip bones are easy to find even if you’re carrying a lot of fat. Now this is an easy exercise to master once you know how to “feel” the transverse muscle working, here’s how, press down slightly with your fingers and cough! You will feel the transverse abdominal wall tighten and jump beneath your fingers. To use the exercise, first cough to initiate the contraction and then hold for a count of ten and relax, repeat for sets.

Pelvic Tilts
Lie on your back on a flat surface, such as a mat or a bench. Roll a towel to cushion the small of your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Raise your pelvis off the floor,  hold momentarily, and lower under control. Repeat for sets. Maintaining a controlled movement is crucial to this exercise, use your abdominal muscles not your body’s momentum to do the work. Be sure to keep your upper body on the floor throughout to target the transverse complex.

Crunchless Crunch
This exercise is fairly simple but can be difficult to master. In a nutshell we’re going to try to pull our belly button in towards our spine, this involves muscles which you may not be accustomed to working, it can take time to make the mind muscle connection. Start by either lying on your stomach or supporting yourself on hands and knees. You might want to try both ways and see which helps you feel the exercise better. Relax your body as much as possible; use only the lower abdominals to try to move your belly button toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds. If holding for ten seconds feels easy, hold for a longer period. You should aim to hold the contraction until you either cannot feel it anymore, or you feel other muscles working harder than the transverse abdominus. When you feel this, release the contraction and relax.

Scissor Kicks
Again start by lying on a mat or bench, place your hands under your backside and try to keep the small of your back pressed down. Start by slowly raising one leg to a height of about ten inches, then slowly lower it back to the floor, as your lower one leg, raise the other. Repeat this movement for reps and sets. Keep disciplined, focus, don’t let momentum rob you. Your upper body should remain on the floor through the entire move.

Transverse abdominals aren’t show muscles but if you want a flatter tummy vitalising these muscles will take you a lot closer to your goals. Exercises like these are key to any tummy flattening plan, and they are especially good for pregnant and postnatal women.

BODYBUILDING SECRETS REVEALED #5  6 tips for better ab training

By Steven Milner 

Tip 1 Don’t eat too many fast-digesting carbohydrates. Fast carbs spike insulin, which affects fat-burning and fat storage, particularly on top of your abs. Carbs to limit are white bread, white potatoes, pop, sports drinks, table sugar, etc. Instead, try whole grain, rye or “best of both” breads, porridge, sweet potatoes, fruits, leaf and root vegetables, brown rice and so on. One exception here: You can eat fast-digesting carbs right after your workout when they’ll be put to work boosting muscle recovery and growth.

Tip 2 Don’t neglect isometrics or continuous tension techniques, this means flexing a body part, in this case the abs, and holding that position for an extended period of time (a bit like a bodybuilder posing). To do this, tense your abs for 6–10 seconds, then relax for 6–10 seconds. Repeat for 10–20 sets. This is a great way to hit your abs while sitting in your car, on your couch or at your desk. I’ll be posting a technique specifically aimed at flattening a tummy (not just for ladies) that uses this principle in isolation. Transverse abdominal crunches coming soon.

Tip 3 Don’t neglect your breathing. When performing an ab exercise such as the crunch, exhale when you reach the finish or top position. This is important because it helps you better contract your abs. Contracting the abs in the position of greatest resistance for a second or two will maximize muscle-fibre involvement.

Tip 4 Generally we train in specific rep ranges, such as 8–10 or 12–15 reps per set. You can and should train your abs in this rep range and add weight (i.e. a plate held across your chest) to keep the progressive resistance going. Many people worry that if they do weighted ab exercises, their abs will become thick and blocky. Abs are muscles just like biceps, so they need definition and separation to stand out, try weighted movements in the 8–10-rep range for optimal ab development.

Tip 5 Don’t do abs first. Some trainers recommend that you begin your workout with ab training to make sure you don’t skip it. This isn’t always true. Recent studies have found that when trained lifters did abs before legs in a squat workout, they completed fewer reps of squats than when they trained abs after the squat workout. This is because the abs, obliques and transverse abdominis work together to stabilize the core, which allows you to produce greater force. Training abs first fatigues them, which lessens your core stability and weakens your base, as well as your ability to generate force.

Tip 6 Don’t train abs always at the same speed, change up your rep speed from slow and smooth to fast and explosive, allowing you to utilize more fast-twitch muscle fibres to build more power, strength and size. According to new research from Spain, scientists tested the muscle activity of subjects’ rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and spinal erectors while they did crunches at rep speeds of four seconds, two seconds, 1.5 seconds, one second or as fast as possible. They reported in a 2008 issue of the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research that as the rep speed increased, so did the activity of all four muscles. The greatest boost occurred in subjects’ external obliques, which were hardly involved in the crunch at slower speeds but increased by more than six times at the fastest speed. So don’t fail to vary your rep speed. The fast reps will help recruit more muscle fibres in the midsection and turn the crunch into an excellent oblique exercise.


By Steven Milner (please refer to the credits at the end of the article)


If you want to perform at a high level, you need to drink. Water, that is. For each percent of body weight lost due to dehydration, your performance slips by about two percent, and a meager two-percent loss in weight can force your heart rate and body temperature to spiral upward, making strenuous exercise almost impossible to carry out. If you’re going to be exercising for 20 minutes or less, dehydration is not usually a problem, but difficulties can arise during longer exertions. For example, copiously sweating athletes can flush about 1.5 litres of fluid per hour through their sweat glands, a total of three pounds per hour. If these heavily perspiring individuals weigh 150 pounds, that’s a two-percent loss in weight after just one hour, producing a four-percent dip in performance if no fluid is taken on board. The downturn in performance would be smaller, about two percent, after 30 minutes, but that’s still enough to make a difference to serious athletes who are interested in winning. But what are the rules for fluid intake? How much do you really need and what should your drink be like? To make it easy for you, I’ve listed the seven rules of fluid intake during exercise below. If you follow these rules, you’ll keep your body water intact during exercise and perform at a much higher level.

RULE NO. 1: The rate of passage of water from your stomach into your small intestine depends on how much fluid is actually in your stomach. If there’s lots of water there, fluid flow from stomach to intestine is like a springtime flood; if there’s little water, the movement resembles a lightly dripping tap. Therefore, to increase stomach-intestinal flow (and overall absorption of water) you need to deposit a fair amount of liquid in your stomach just before you begin your exercise. In fact, 10-12 ounces of fluid is a good start. This will feel uncomfortable at first, so practice funnelling this amount of beverage into your ‘tank’ several times before an actual competition.

RULE NO. 2: To sustain a rapid movement of fluid into your small intestine during your exertions, take three to four sips of beverage every 10 minutes if possible, or five to six swallows every 15 minutes.

RULE NO. 3:  If you’re going to be exercising for less than 60 minutes, don’t worry about including carbohydrate in your drink; plain water is fine. For more prolonged efforts, however, you will want the carbohydrate.

RULE NO. 4: Years of research have suggested that the correct concentration of carbohydrate in your drink is about 5-7%. Most commercial sports drinks fall within this range, and you can make your own 6 %  drink by mixing five tablespoons of table sugar with each litre of water that you use. A bit of sodium boosts absorption, one-third teaspoon of salt per litre of water is about right. Although 5-7%  carbohydrate solutions seem to work best for most individuals, there is evidence that some endurance athletes can fare better with higher concentrations. In research carried out recently at Liverpool John Moores University, for example, cyclists who ingested a 15% maltodextrin solution improved their endurance by 30% compared to individuals who used a 5% glucose drink. The 15% drink also drained from the stomach as quickly as the 5%, though many other studies have linked such concentrated drinks with a slowdown in water movement.

RULE NO. 5:  A 6% ‘simple sugar’ drink will empty from your stomach at about the same rate as a fancy, 6% ‘glucose polymer’ beverage, so don’t fall for the idea that the latter can boost water absorption or enhance your performance more than the former, and don’t pay more for the glucose-polymer concoctions.

RULE NO 6:  Contrary to what you’ve heard, cold drinks aren’t absorbed into your body more quickly than warm ones. However, cold drinks are often more palatable than warm ones during exercise, so if coldness helps you to drink large quantities of fluid while you exert yourself, then keep your drinks cool.

RULE NO. 7:  Downing drinks during exercise does not increase your risk of digestive-system problems. In actuality, most gut disorders that arise during exercise are caused by dehydration, not from taking in fluid. Dehydration induces nausea and discomfort by reducing blood flow to the digestive system, so by all means keep drinking

Source: The Maintenance of Fluid Balance during Exercise’, International Journal of Sports Medicine, vol..15(3), pp. 122-125,1994, and ‘The Effect of Different Forms of Fluid Provision on Exercise Performance’, International Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 14, p. 298,1993


By Steve Milner

Have you heard the one about drinking 2 litres of water a day to stay optimally hydrated?

You are not “optimally” hydrated if you drink water to the extent that you start to “shed” water. Don’t get me wrong moving water in and out and even around the different tissues of your body is remarkably easy to do, but tricky to get just right. If you’re dialling down for a comp and you’ve never done it before DON’T experiment with anything. When you are “optimally” hydrated any length of time without water will have an immediate effect on your muscular performance so you have to keep replacing it all the time. We take more water from our food than you might think, in fact foods like melon, cucumber, carrots etc., contain as much as ninety percent water. Now, listen carefully, you have 22 ½ foot of small intestine then 5 foot of large intestine that absorb the water from the food as it passes through your body over the next 24 to 72 hours. Healthy non processed foods are key to bodybuilders not least because of the nutrient quality but also because of the slow release water content. If you’re a woman you should see the miracle effects food hydration has on your skin! I know how proper hydration can make you look years younger. Read on?


By: Steve Milner

What is fat? Among other things fat is an energy source three times richer than carbohydrate and protein and it’s also where you’re body stores some of its toxic waste. Surprisingly our fat cell count is the same whether we are fat or thin, so when we get fat, we don’t get more fat cells, we get bigger fat cells. Fat is mainly water and the fatter you are the more water you carry (hey, camel boy…); you can read more about Hydration in my other articles. Different fat compositions are deposited in different places around your body for different reasons. For instance, fat is an insulator it stops us cooling down too fast, it serves as padding both around and inside all of our major organs, it cushions and supports our joints and just for a laugh it helps you float, which is why when you go to the baths (active rest) you will see fat people gliding slowly and effortlessly up and down the pool all day long, which is nice for them. Here’s the secret bit, good bodybuilders know and accept that body fat is crucial to maximum effort, hydration, joint support, anabolic growth and recovery to name but a few. Through diet and exercise we can decide when and to what extent we use our essential fat deposits to our advantage and when to grow them and when to reduce them. When body building becomes an integral yet distinct part of your nature, being fat doesn’t happen to you anymore unless you want it to.