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Good ol love handles
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Gettinhuge_pump's Avatar
Posts: 379
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: In the hills of the southeastern U.S.
Good ol love handles - 01-21-2005, 11:59 PM

I am one of the many cursed people out there who can't seem to get rid of these fucking love handles. I have gained almost 15 lbs on my cycle, and am planning on doing a cutting cycle next, but any info or tips on getting "ripped" abs and stomach would be much appreciated. thanks
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Robin Hood
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01-22-2005, 09:27 PM

The Ab***inal Training FAQ
The Ab***inal Training FAQ

The Ab***inal Training Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ)
is intended as an introduction to the basic principles of training
the ab***inal area, sometimes known as the belly or the abs. The
creation of this FAQ was motivated by frequent questions on the
topic in the newsgroup

This is version 0.13c, Last modified Thu 4 Apr 1996

Table Of Contents

Q1: How do I get abs like giant ravioli?
Q2: Should I do lots of situps to reduce fat around
my middle?
Q3: How do I reduce the fat covering my middle?
Q4: How do I exercise the abs?
Q5: What's wrong with situps?
Q6: What are good ab exercises?
Q7: Is there a specific order I should do exercises
Q8: How do I structure an ab routine?
Q9: How often should I train abs?
Q10: Should I do side bends to reduce my love
Q11: Gee, but shouldn't I balance my abs with my
spinal erectors?
Q12: Are there any special ab***inal exercises
during pregnancy?
Q13: Does the XXX ab machine/gadget work?


The information in this FAQ is based on

Health For Life's Legendary Abs booklet
endless threads about ab***inal training in
and on the weights mailing list and
sundry other sources.

See the references list at the end for how to get hold of these
things for yourself.

This FAQ is once again under constant monthly revision. If you
are reading a version which has a Last-Modified date which
shows it to be more than a month old then you should try to get a
more up-to-date copy. New versions of the FAQ are posted
every month to and misc.answers.

A hypertext WWW version is available for World Wide Web
browsers like Mosaic using the URL:

The text version is also available via anonymous ftp from the
following sites: /pub/usenet-by-group/***inal_Training_FAQ /usenet/FAQs/***inal_Training_FAQ /USENET/FAQ/misc/fitness/The_Ab***inal_Training_FAQ

Folks who cannot access ftp or the Web can get the FAQ from
the Weights Mailing List archive server by sending mail to
[email protected] with the command "abs" in
the body.

Finally, if nothing else works, requests for the FAQ may be sent
to the FAQ maintainer:
Tim Mansfield <[email protected]>


Q1: How do I get abs like giant ravioli?

Getting visible ab***inal muscles or "abs" depends on reducing
the amount of fat covering the abs, see Question 3. Getting hard,
lumpy abs depends on developing the underlying muscles, for
details, read on...

Q2: Should I do lots of situps to reduce fat around my

No. Exercising the area from which you want to lose fat is called
"spot reduction". Spot reduction is now believed to be a myth.
Research shows that fat is lost all over your body, not just in the
area that you work. Situps are also bad for your lower back (see
Question 5).
Q3: How do I reduce the fat covering my middle?
The answer comes in two parts: diet and aerobic exercise.


This is controversial, but most people agree that eating very little
fat and lots of complex carbs (like rice, pasta and potatoes) helps
ensure that you don't add additional fat. Then you have to work at
using the fat you already have stored which involves...


Again a bit controversial, but it's widely agreed that regular,
moderate, aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week works best to
burn fat that's already stored.

"Moderate" because intense exercise burns glycogen not fat, so
keep the intensity at about the level where you are beginning to
puff a little.

"Aerobic" means (very vaguely) the kind of exercise that requires
you to inhale more. Some suggest that building more muscle
through weight training helps as well, since muscle burns fat just
by being there and moving your body about; so some weight
training couldn't hurt and will probably help.

Many people agree that exercise periods of more
than 20 minutes work best. But note that the longer you exercise,
the more prone you are to injury since your muscles also begin to
weaken. Two things which help prevent injury are:

a good warmup
5-10 minutes of light exercise to warm your muscles, try
to break a sweat
cautious 20-30 sec stretches for every muscle (for an
excellent source of information on the topic, see the
Stretching FAQ).

For more information on exercise in general consult the FAQ.

Q4: How do I exercise the abs?
The abs are designed to perform one main task, to shorten the
distance between your sternum, or breastbone, and your pelvis.
The only way to do this is to bend your spine in the lower back

In short, any exercise which makes you move your sternum
toward your pelvis or your pelvis toward your sternum is good.
To do this safely, the lower back should be slightly rounded, not

In general when exercising the abs, try to maintain the natural
arch of you lower back. The lower back will round slightly as
you perform the exercises. Don't fret about pressing your back
into the ground.

Q5: What's wrong with situps?

Traditional situps emphasize sitting up rather than merely pulling
your sternum down to meet your pelvis. The action of the psoas
muscles, which run from the lower back around to the front of
the thighs, is to pull the thighs closer to the torso. This action is
the major component in sitting up. Because of this, situps
primarily engage the psoas making them inefficient at exercising
your abs. More importantly, they also grind the vertebrae in your
lower back.

They're inefficient because the psoas work best when the legs are
close to straight (as they are when doing situps), so for most of
the situp the psoas are doing most of the work and the abs are just

Putting the thighs at a right angle to the torso to begin with
means that the psoas can't pull it any further, so all of the stress is
placed on the abs.

Situps also grind vertebrae in your lower back. This is because to
work the abs effectively you are trying to make the lower back
round, but tension in the psoas encourages the lower back move
into an exaggerated arch. The result is the infamous "disc pepper
grinder" effect that helps give you chronic lower back pain in
later life.

There may be a way to do situps safely and thus exercise your
psoas muscles. If anyone knows what it is, please let the FAQ
maintainer know.

Q6: What are good ab exercises?

We've divided the exercises into upper and lower ab exercises.
Note that there aren't two separate muscles that you can truly
isolate, so all the exercises stress the whole ab***inal wall.
However there are "clusters" of muscle separated by connective
tissue (these make up the "washboard" or the "six-pack"). You
can focus on the upper clusters by moving just the torso and the
lower clusters by moving the pelvis.

For the lower abs, in increasing order of difficulty:
lying leg raises
reverse crunches
vertical lying leg thrusts
hanging knee raises
hanging leg raises

For the upper abs:

ab crunches
1/4 crunches
cross-knee crunches
pulldown crunches

Lower Ab Exercises

Lying Leg Raises

Lie on your back with your hands, palms down under your
buttocks. Raise your legs about 30cm (12") off the floor and hold
them there. Now trying to use just your lower abs, raise your legs
by another 15cm (6"). Do this by tilting the pelvis instead of
lifting the legs with the psoas. Make sure your knees are slightly

If you're big or have long legs or both, you should probably avoid
this exercise. For people with legs that are too heavy for their
lower abs strength, this exercise pulls the lower back into an
exaggerated arch which is bad (and painful). For reasons why it's
bad, see Question 5. If you have this problem you can either try
bending your knees slightly and making sure you keep your lower
back fairly flat, or just try another exercise.

Reverse Crunch

This exercise can be done on the ground or on an incline situp
board. All you need is something behind your head to hold. If you
use the incline board, use it with your feet lower than your head.

Lying on your back, hold a weight or a chair leg (if lying on the
floor) or the foot bar (if using the situp board). Keep the knees
slightly bent.

Pull your pelvis and legs up so that your knees are above your
chest and then return to beginning position.

This exercise is very similar to a hanging knee raise, but a little
less intense.

Vertical Lying Leg Thrusts

Initial position:

Lie on your back.
Put your fists under your buttocks to form a cradle.
Raise your legs in the air 20-30cm (10-12") off the
ground, knees slightly bent.
If you feel any strain on your lower back, bend your knees
a little more.
Raise your head and shoulders off the ground slightly if
you can to help keep the abs stressed.

The exercise itself has four phases:

1. Raise your legs until your feet are above your pelvis;
focus on contracting the abs.
2. Thrust your heels to the ceiling, breathe out, keep
contracting the abs raising the pelvis out of the cradle of
your fists.
3. Lower out of the thrust back to your fists, leaving your
feet above your pelvis.
4. Lower your legs back to the initial position.

Legendary Abs II recommends these as safer than Lying Leg

Hanging Knee Raises

You need a chin-up bar or something you can hang from for this.
Grab the bar with both hands with a grip a bit wider than your
shoulders, cross your ankles and bring your knees up to your chest
(or as close as you can get). Your pelvis should rock slightly
forward. Pause at the top of the movement for a second and then
slowly lower your knees by relaxing your abs. Don't lower your
legs all the way. Repeat the movement using just your abs to raise
your knees.

Make sure that you don't start swinging. You want your abs to do
the work, not momentum. It's important that you don't move
your legs too far or your psoas muscle will be doing a lot of work
and possibly causing back problems as in a situp.

Make sure your pelvis moves, your lower back stays neutral or
slightly rounded, not arched, and that your abs are doing the
work, not your hips.

Hanging Leg Raises

Just like knee raises except you keep your legs straight. This
requires good hamstring and lower back flexibility, see the
Stretching FAQ for details.

Although Legendary Abs recommends these, The American
Council on Exercise's Aerobics Instructor book warns that they
have the same back problems as conventional situps. This makes
sense since, like situps, the legs are kept straight and the hips
move. The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)
also regards hanging leg raises as dangerous.

For safety you should probably stick to leg thrusts and knee raises.

If you do do hanging leg raises, make sure your lower back stays
neutral or rounded.

There is an isometric variant done by gymnasts called the
"L-Support", which basically consists of taking the leg raise
position with the legs held straight at a level just above the hips.
The position is held for 10 seconds. When you can complete this
easily, try a higher position. The same cautions about back
position still hold.

Upper Ab Exercises

Ab Crunches

Lying on your back, put your knees up in the air so that your
thighs are at a right angle to your torso, with your knees bent. If
you like you can rest your feet on something, like a chair. Put
your hands either behind your head or gently touching the sides
of your head.

Now, slowly raise your shoulders off the ground and try to touch
your breastbone to your pelvis, breathing out as you go. If you
succeed in touching your breastbone to your pelvis, see a doctor

Although the actual movement will be very small (your upper
torso should move through less than 30 degrees) you should try to
go as high as possible. Only your spine should bend, your hips
should not move. If the hips move, you are exercising the psoas.

Do these fairly slowly to avoid using momentum to help.

You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by extending your
hands out behind your head instead of keeping them at the side.
Make sure you don't jerk your hands forward to help with the
crunch, keep them still.

1/4 Crunches

Same as an ab crunch except that you raise your shoulder up,
instead of pulling them toward your pelvis. You can do these
quickly, in fact it's hard to do them any other way.

Cross-Knee Crunches

Like ab crunches, take the lying, bent-knee position, but this time
crunch diagonally so that you try to touch each shoulder to the
opposite hip alternately. At the top position, one shoulder and one
hip should be off the ground.

Pulldown Crunches

Drape a towel or rope around the bar of a pulldown machine so
that you pull the weight using it instead of the bar. Kneel facing
the machine and grab hold of the towel and put your hands
against your forehead. Kneel far enough away from the machine
so that the cable comes down at a slight angle.

The exercise is the same movement as an ab crunch, but using the
weight instead of gravity. The emphasis is still on crunching the
abs, pulling the sternum (breastbone) towards the pelvis and
making sure you exhale all your air at each contraction.

Q7: Is there a specific order I should do exercises in?

According to Legendary Abs, you should exercise the lower abs
before the upper abs and do any twisting upper ab movements
before straight upper ab ones. Twisting exercises work the
obliques as well as the upper abs.

Q8: How do I structure an ab routine?
According to the guidelines in Legendary Abs:

Try to do sets in the 15-30 rep range.
Follow the ordering rules in Question 7.
Pick easy exercises to start with and when you can happily
do about 2 sets in a row of an exercise, try harder ones.
Only rest when you absolutely must, so take a short
(10-15sec) rest between two sets of the same exercise, but
none between lower and upper abs.
Try to take about 1 second for each rep, except for ab
crunches which you do slower (2 secs/rep) for a better
contraction and 1/4 crunches which you should do fast (2
reps/sec) because you're hardly moving.

Q9: How often should I train abs?
Some writers recommend doing abs at every workout. Others
recommend doing them however often you do anything else in
other words treating them as you would any other body part.
Health For Life's Legendary Abs recommends three or four
times a week.

Since most people want good ab***inal tone more than freaky
ab***inal size, it probably makes sense to exercise the abs with
lower intensity and more frequently, rather than with high
intensity and less frequently.

Q10: Should I do side bends to reduce my love handles?

Nope. Love handles (the pads of fat above the hip bone at the side
of the waist) are fat and only shrink with a low fat diet and
general aerobic exercise (see Question 3). You can't just remove
the fat from that area on its own. Legendary Abs claims that side
bends develop the oblique muscles under the fat and therefore
make the fat more prominent, but some people feel that the
obliques simply can't get big enough to be noticeable. If anyone
feels they can offer an authoritative answer on this question,
please contribute.

Q11: Gee, but shouldn't I balance my abs with my spinal

Thanks for asking. If you develop your ab strength without
similarly developing your spinal erectors (the muscles that
straighten your lower back), you will end up with strange and
possibly damaging posture.

Hyperextensions are a good lower back exercise. Deadlifts, both
straight and bent-legged give the lower back a lot of exercise, so
if you do them you don't need to add anything else. Make sure
you get someone to show you how to do them properly and keep
your lower back arched through the whole movement. For more
details consult the FAQ which contains extensive
descriptions of both sorts of deadlifts and lots more besides.

One other exercise is a gymnast's basic strength move called a ``
back lever'' which among many other things strengthens your
spinal erectors.


Hyperextensions are best done on a hyperextension bench, but can
be done on a bed or ordinary bench with something (or someone)
holding down your ankles.

Lie face down, with your hands touching the sides of your head
and your body draped over the edge of the bench. Make sure your
hips are supported so your pelvis can't move. Slowly raise your
torso to the horizontal position, but no higher.

Keep your head, shoulders and upper back arched through the
whole movement.

Try to do a couple of sets af around 12 reps after each ab routine
or after each back routine. Don't exercise your lower back more
than about three times a week. Don't exercise it if it's still sore
from the previous workout.

The Back Lever

The back lever is a gymnastic strength move, it requires a lot of
upper body strength and basic gymnastic conditioning before you
even attempt it.

This exercise is dangerous for many people, use caution!

The exercise can be done on still rings, the high bar or a chin bar
set a fair way from the ceiling. You hang upside down with an
underhand grip. If you're using a bar, the bar has to be behind you
so try hanging with the bar in front of you and walk you legs

When you have the position, lower yourself, pivoting at your
shoulders until your body is parallel to the ground (or as close as
you can safely get) belly facing downwards and hold the position
for several seconds. When you can't hold it anymore bring your
self back up to vertical.

Take care as you have to be able to get out of any situation you
get into, so don't go too low on the first try and make sure you
only do it over a crash mat or with a couple of helpers to catch
you if you have to let go.

If you're confused about the description, the HTML version of
this FAQ available via the World Wide Web, contains pictures
which will be below if you're using a graphical browser like

Many thanks go to Keith Smith for patiently explaining the back
lever to me.

Small in stature...
Wide in vision... :smoker:

Age - 45 ( climbing the )
Stats - Height:5'6
Weight: 132 lb
B/F = 5.9%
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Blackbird's Avatar
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01-22-2005, 09:38 PM

Good post I wasn't aware of the order of exercise in question 7

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Gettinhuge_pump's Avatar
Posts: 379
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Location: In the hills of the southeastern U.S.
01-22-2005, 09:42 PM

Sweet post. Thanks for the help Bro!
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Perfection Personifide
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Posts: 3,069
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Location: Tx
01-22-2005, 10:06 PM

Thanks for the post. I needed to do some ab work on this cycle. Tired of carrying around my 2 litter bottles instead of a 6 pack
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Posts: 26
Join Date: Jan 2005
01-24-2005, 01:41 AM

Interesting post bro............ab work+ diet.........
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01-24-2005, 11:12 AM

that was a very good post on ab exercises, but one thing you must remember is that you can not spot reduce fat through exercise. the ONLY way to reduce fat is through diet adjustments and cardio. the fastest way to loose fat is through a ketonic diet where you cut carbs down to about 20-30 carbs total per day and do high protein, high good fats. this will reduce your fat levels quite rapidly and once you acheive the required reduction in the areas where you want it then go back to a good clean diet with a balanced mix of fats, carbs, & protein.

all the ab exercises in the world will only build you a great set of abs but you still will not see then unless you do something to actually reduce the fat.
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