During my bodybuilding heyday, I was known for a few bodyparts — my chest, my biceps, my back and even my calves. However, it was my abdominals to which I paid the most attention. I knew then, as I do now, that you could have the biggest arms, the broadest shoulders and the most cut thighs, but if you have poor abdominal development, you’ll look simply overgrown rather than Herculean.
Conversely, if you have a taut set of abs, you can get away with a less than spectacular physique. People’s eyes are naturally drawn to the midsection, and if yours is well developed, you will give the viewer the immediate impression of being in shape.
Oddly, I have found that the majority of bodybuilders do not pay nearly as much attention to their midsections as they should. Many perform ab exercises once — maybe twice — a week, while others don’t train their abs at all! Then, when the summer rolls around, they’ll be in the gym doubling up on ab training, trying to get some semblance of development before they have to reveal their torsos at the beach.
By training your abdominal region regularly, not only will you ensure that your midsection has the requisite ridges and valleys come summer, but you’ll also build yourself a strong core, which will help you to prevent future injuries — the kind that come from imbalanced strength.
When I think of great abdominal development, one of the first men to come to mind is my friend Frank Zane. He had such a tiny waist and a midsection that was so well balanced — from serratus to obliques to intercostals to rectus abdominis — that he looked like the living, breathing incarnation of Michelangelo’s David. I remember it seemed like I saw Frank on a Roman chair every workout, both at the beginning and at the end. He would go for 500 reps each workout. I used to chide him about all that time he spent training his abs, but I couldn’t deny that it did the trick.
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