Best Exercise Routine to Develop Abs in Men or Women


By doing specific abdominal exercises, you can strengthen and build abs muscle and finally have a midriff that will elicit admiring glances from onlookers.

Whether you’re male or female, when you wear a swimsuit or cut-off top, it seems that an onlooker’s eyes are invariably drawn to your abs. According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, seven-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title, this is the case because “the abs are the visual center of the body.

In fact, if you impose an ‘X’ on the body, with the terminal points being the shoulders and the feet, the two lines cross at the abdominals, and this is where the eyes are inevitably drawn” (p. 502). Perhaps this is the reason why everyone appreciates “washboard” abs, and you can be one of those people who elicit admiring glances at your midsection if you undertake an exercise regimen to strengthen, tighten, and tone your ab muscles.

Location of Upper and Lower Abdominal Muscles

Beginning at the rib area near the breastbone and extending to just above the pelvic area, the abdominal muscles (stomach muscles) are comprised of two main areas: upper and lower.

The upper abdominals are located near the waist and lower chest area, while the lower abdominals are located between the waist and pelvic area. Moreover, as professional bodybuilder and fitness expert Gladys Portugues says, since a person’s strength originates from the abdominal region, these muscles actually come into play in almost every exercise performed.

How Often to Exercise Abs Muscle for the Best Results

Although some physiologists contend that people can overdo exercises for the abs and intense workouts that concentrate on this area won’t eliminate fat around the mid-section, Schwarzenegger argues otherwise, maintaining that doing strenuous abdominal training that works the muscles “to the maximum” burns fat and makes the abs “leaner, harder, and more defined” (p. 507). Therefore, he contends that you should train abs everyday.

Schwarzenegger’s argument applies not only to men but also to women. In fact, Portugues says that although you should normally rest at least one day between workouts “so the muscles can develop and recuperate properly,” this rule does not apply to the abdominals or the buttocks since, “in order to become tighter and more refined, these muscles need additional stimulus to shed the excess fat that covers them” (p. 12).

The Different Kinds of Abdominal Exercises to Build Abs Muscle

Schwarzenegger says, “The number of abdominal exercises is seemingly endless”(p 507). Moreover, each exercise has numerous variations, but most variations have a nearly identical effect upon the abs. However, as he says, initially the most important thing is to build basic strength in the abdominal region, after which you need to increase that strength and then begin to put increased emphasis on adjacent muscles. As a result, Schwarzenegger recommends a beginning and an advanced routine for ab workouts.

Beginning Ab Exercise Routine to Build Basic Muscle

Schwarzenegger suggests the following ab exercises for a beginning routine:

  • Alternate each day between five sets of sit-ups (regular or incline) and five sets of leg-raises. (Although both exercises work the abs as a whole, sit-ups put emphasis on the upper abs, and leg-raises on the lower abs.)
  • Work on your stomach “vacuum” by blowing out all of your breath, sucking in your stomach as far as possible, and holding it for a count of 15 to 20 seconds. (Schwarzenegger says that producing and holding a vacuum reduces the size of your waist.)
  • Tense your abs frequently and hold in your stomach as you go about your daily affairs.

Advanced Ab Exercise Routine to Strengthen, Tone, and Tighten

Schwarzenegger recommends adding the following ab exercises to your workout once you have strengthened the abdominal muscles:

  • Begin with a warm-up session of Roman Chair sit-ups.
  • Perform five sets of bent-knee raises, leg raises, over-twists, and crunches.
  • Do a series of non-stop ab exercises, including kickbacks, rear leg-raises, and lying side-scissors. (Schwarzenegger maintains these exercises give your abs “a new kind of shock and force them to develop faster.)

In summary, whether you are male or a female, if you follow the advice of these two bodybuilding experts, you can have washboard abs that elicit admiring glances from onlookers at the beach, at the pool, in the gym, or whenever you wear a midriff-exposing top.


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