The Best Exercises To Work Lower Abs

September 16, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

work lower abs

In an earlier post I described methods on how you can build a 6 pack. That was some weeks ago, and if you have worked hard since then, it is quite possible that you have developed a nice set of abs. If that is the case then it is possible that you may have developed the upper abs, done the same for the middle abs, but then thought to yourself

‘Ok, that wasn’t too hard, but how do I get these lower abs to show, I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work?’

Well, after I had built my 6 packs within 12 weeks or so, doing just sit ups, I had faced the same problem. The reason why it bothered me so much is that even though I had a 6 pack, the lack of muscles on the lower abs makes you feel like you still have a ‘pop belly’. Or it makes you feel that if you don’t work the lower abs, then your ‘pop belly’ will come back you if stop working on your lower abs one day.

You may be thinking similar things, or quite simply you are just a perfectionist that just wants it all, and half hearted efforts are far from acceptable. Never the less, I am going to show you the lower abs exercises that worked for me. They are more painful than your average sit up or leg raises, but hey, no pain no gain!

The diet exercise

‘Diet… that’s not an exercise’

Well you are right, it’s not an exercise, but maintaining and keeping to a good diet is critical when trying do bring out the lower abs from that annoying layer of fat. So focus on a low calorie meal plan when doing the exercises below.

In al of these exercises, perform 3- 6 sets/ 15-25 reps depending on your fitness level

Decline Reverse crunches
Decline Reverse Crunch

  • Lie down on a bench (decline) with your knees bent and your upper legs at a 90° angle
  • Grab the bench above your head to keep yourself stable.
  • Start with your legs horizontal to the ground.
  • Use your abs muscles to pull your knees towards your chest until they reach your elbows.
  • Hold the crunch position for three seconds and return to the starting position.

When I first began to do this exercise I was doing it completely wrong. But one day somebody in the gym that I was in kindly alerted me on how to do the exercise correctly, and when I did… man, did I feel the burn!

Exercise Ball Rollout

exercise ball rollout

  • Start with the ball in front of you and place your hands on the ball.
  • Lower your body by rolling the ball out (forward).
  • Keep your abs tight. Doing this allows you to maintain stability and to keep your balance so that you don’t fall.
  • When you come to a full stretch, return to the starting position by contracting your abs.

When I first saw this, I just thought it was a pointless exercise. But I was wrong! Do this exercise as described and you will feel the burn, and it will work your lower abs.

Reverse exercise ball crunches

Reverse exercise ball crunches
This one is similar to the decline reverse crunches except you use a ball instead of a bench. Again, perform this exercise and you will feel the burn.

  • Find a bench, wall, or stationary apparatus that you can hold onto (full fist)
  • Place the ball beside it.
  • Sit on the ball and roll down until the ball is resting under the mid-back, knees bent.
  • Place your hands behind you and hold onto the apparatus for stability.
  • Use your abs muscles to pull your knees towards your chest until they reach your elbows.
  • Hold the crunch position for three seconds and return to the starting position.

Perform these exercises, as a lower abs workout routine and when doing these exercises make sure you take short rest periods. Taking short rest periods will cause more sweating and force a lot of oxygen debt.

Don’t count like a robot

Now what I mean by this, is that you shouldn’t make counting during your sets a priority, you don’t need to be a robot. Yes you should count so that you can monitor your progress, but don’t make it a priority, instead focus on

  • Intensity
  • Sweating
  • Pumping your blood flow
  • Increasing your heart rate

Performing all of these lower abs exercises is what will get you your ‘real 6 pack’. Not doing thousands of sit-ups like I did. Focus on the procedure laid out here and those lower abs will rise through that annoying layer of fat.

See you in the comments

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Muscle Growth Has Stopped! I Want My Pump Back! What to do?

September 11, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Without a doubt, this is possibly the most frustrating thing that will happen to all of us muscle heads.

  1. The first few months of working out = explosive growth
  2. The next few months after that = maintenance
  3. Then… muscle growth comes to a halt

This has happened to me a few times, and when I look in the mirror, it simply makes me want to cry :'( . Sometimes it may even be worse and muscles might even shrink. The worse thing about this is that I have seen guys who’ve trained three days a week and never noticed that they’ve had five months of no progress whatsoever!

But not to worry, you are on stayfitbug.com and when you are, you can expect to find a solution to your problem. The main problem here is that you would have overworked your muscles for this to have happened, but here’s what you can do to fix it.

Alternate exercises

I’ve talked about this endlessly throughout various previous posts. Over working any muscle group will actually make them sore, and can cause them to shrink. But the good thing about this plateau that you hit is that it will be short lived, and the slowdown in progress will likely show up in one or two exercises out of an entire workout, giving you time to act. The key thing here is to make adjustments in your training before full-blown stagnation sets in.

Doing to many standing tricep pull downs? Switch it up and focus on bench dips. An even better thing to do may be to leave that muscle group alone for a few days.

Take time off

When you are ‘In the zone’ when working out, this may seem like a painful thing to do, and your reaction would be something like,

‘WHAT! Stop working out? I’m going to shrink dammit’.

Yes you will shrink… if you carry on working out that is. By simply not lifting weights for a few weeks, you allow your body to fully recover… and add new muscle growth that you’ve already stimulated, so you can return to the gym and resume training effectively.

72 hour breaks instead of 48-hour breaks

When you first begin to workout, you will probably be working out 3-4 times a week, and right fully so, as you will be in the early stages of building up muscle mass. But as you begin to grow and become stronger, your workouts will need to be spaced further apart. This is essential for further muscle growth to occur and it will prevent you from falling into the same trap again.

Do heavy leg training

By far, the best exercise you can do to increase your body’s anabolic activity is heavy leg presses. Surprised I didn’t say squats? Squats are a great all-around exercise but they are limited by how much weight you can comfortably support on your shoulders. Many people I work with do 3,000-pound leg presses. Accounting for the 45-degree angle of most leg presses, that’s equivalent to a 2,100-pound squat, something that not many people do!

The legs contain the largest muscles in the human body and when those muscles are forced to operate at the limits of their capacity, the systemic anabolic effect spills into every muscle group in the body. And now to surprise you

Heavy leg training gives you bigger arms!

Might seem strange, but is very true.

The next time you hit a plateau and your muscles stop growing, follow these tips and you will be back on track to putting on those much wanted gains.

See you in the comments

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Build Your Scrawny Ankles – Don’t Forget To! (Muscles around them)

September 8, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

It’s that time again! It’s only been a few days since posting about ‘ building those neglected body parts‘, but I guess I am passionate about getting you to look your best and to look that little bit better than your peers. Anyhow, today is all about how to build stronger and better-looking ankles. I wouldn’t necessarily put scrawny ankles in the same category as chicken legs, as the exercises involved to build both do differ.

On most people (mainly guys), the ankles simply are not seen as a glamorous body part. You don’t hear people saying,

‘Ooh, flex those hot ankles for me’

Or

‘Take off those socks and let me see those lovely ankles’

It just doesn’t happen. However, I think this is not the case when women are concerned. Women ankles are naturally more feminine than a man’s set of ankles, and because of this, I find that ankles are one of the sexiest body parts there are (on a woman). This is why there is a market for ankle bracelets.

Why build a stronger and sexier set of ankles?

This is mainly targeted at guys, but if you are a lady and you have bony, unsightly and weak ankles, then this is for you too. So lets begin our journey to building strong and sexier looking ankles.

Strong ankles prevent injury

Injury is the number one reason why people take timeout from exercise and training, whether for sport or fitness training, but by having strong ankles you can prevent this. I have personally faced the benefits of this in previous sporting activities, especially in sprint training. There was many a time where I would literally not realize how fast I was running. I would suddenly stop running, yet my body would keep moving. When ever this happened early on in training it would lead to a sure injury, but as I began to build my ankle strength, my ankles would take the pressure and I would carry on as normal.

Improves balance

Having strong ankles will definitely improve your balance and not just for training, exercise or sporting activities either.

If you are,

  • On the beach having a fight in the sand.
  • On a very unstable train ride.
  • Take long walks regularly.
  • Take a serious blow to the body in a ‘real’ fight.

Stronger ankles will help you in all of these types of situations.

Building for a stronger and sexier set of ankles

Standing and balancing on one foot

Balance on one foot
Yes, I all know we done this in the playground as kids, but this is actually a very effective way to train your ankles to be stronger. What we didn’t realize as kids doing this, is that all that struggling and shifting around to keep balance is actually working the key muscles in our ankles. You can do this exercise anywhere, but only do it in a public place if you don’t mind that people might think that you are a bit loopy!

If you are already a highly balanced ballerina type, then try it with your eyes closed. Taking away one of your senses will make for harder work on your muscles.

Standing and balancing on one foot (with weights)

balance on one fit with dumbbells

This is basically weight training for ankles. This is where you will really begin to build up muscle and strength. What you do is grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them in each hand. All of the rocking from side to side will be the movements that will work the ankle muscles. If you wish, you can also use a barbell and place it behind your neck and balance with that.

Standing and balancing on one foot with weights (on an unstable surface)

build your scrawny ankles

Warning! Only do this once you have mastered the above methods.

This is a real challenge and definitely a step up from the two previous methods, but will again… strengthen and grow your ankle muscles. My favourite for this is to grab a set of towels and role them up together, stand on and balance.

Balance and coordination

Build your scrawny ankles

  • Put the weights down
  • Balance on one foot (or on an uneven surface)
  • Get some one to throw a ball at you
  • Or throw a ball at the wall (if you are alone)

This one is actually funny, as I used to do this all the time as a kid. But doing this will improve your balance and coordination while working your ankle muscles.

All of these techniques will do wonders for your chicken stick meatless ankles.  Especially when wearing the best shoes for insanity and T25. The great thing about them is that they are simple to do and promote functional movements (and are unique, which most exercises like this are – forearms, neck). Start doing these today and in a few months time it would be great if you could post some before and after shots of your ankles for everyone to see 🙂

How do you work your ankle muscles? Have you tried any of the above?

See you in the comments.

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I have man boobs! How can i fix my chest?

September 3, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

This has been an on going problem for me, ever since I built my body up for muscle mass. But guess what’s surprising? I have a mesomorph body type; I am in my 20’s, yet my chest is in danger of being classed as having man boobs.

I have yet to fix the problem entirely and I have since had ladies make jokes that I have an A-cup chest… something some ladies don’t even have! This can affect anyone from those who have built muscle to those who want to lose fat. So for all those who have this same problem, read on and together we can all build our chests to how they should really look on a man.

Watch your diet

In general, man boobs would usually exist on those individuals who have 30% body fat or more and their chest would look like this.

Fix Man boobs

Whenever this occurs, on almost any specific part of the body, there isn’t really any solid way to fix it apart from refocusing your diet. One will need to keep their saturated fat intake down. Tomorrow I will be posting ‘Killer foods for fitness (part 2)’. This will cover some of the best foods you can include in your diet to keep the fat off. If you are having real trouble you can always refer to ‘How to increase metabolism‘.

Once you have got your diet under control, you then want to get your body fat percentage down to at least 15% before you start to do any man boob fixing exercises.

What to avoid

If you are currently hitting the gym whether you trying to lose weight or gain muscle, it doesn’t really matter, man boobs are man boobs and you have to get rid of them. Maintaining a good diet is down to you, but in the gym, the one exercise that is regarded as the ‘manhood’ of all chest exercises is what you must avoid.

THE FLAT/ DECLINE BENCH PRESS

Why?

The classic flat or decline bench press exercise mainly focuses on the lower part of your chest (An area that you have already developed). By continuing to do this exercise you are only building up this area more. This will only hamper your efforts in fixing your man boobs and to build the perfect chest. What you need to focus on is,

INCLINE BENCH PRESS EXERCISES

This is the exercise that you want to put at the forefront of all your exercises at this man boob fixing stage. The incline bench press is the exercise that will give the support and structure for your upper chest. Here are the key incline bench press exercises that will work your upper chest.

  • Barbell incline bench press
  • Dumbbell incline bench press
  • Front dumbbell raises

Work your upper back

The key reason for adding upper back exercises to your workout is to create balance. Not only that, it will also,

  • Strengthen your ability to bench
  • Prevent shoulder problems
  • Improve your posture

And best of all, it will give your chest a great side view, making it look bigger!

Once you have finished with those, your chest will have gone from this,

Classic man boobs

To this

perfectronaldPerfect chest muscles
Building a perfectly shape chest isn’t always easy and like most things, it will take hard work and effort on your part. But once you have fixed those man boobs, the key thing is to then find a balance out and work with a variety of exercises to ensure you maintain the chest you have developed. Before I leave you, here is a routine to take away and follow AFTER you have fixed your man boobs.

This workout consists of more sets, more reps and will hit the chest from every angle and will give you the ultimate definition.

  • Barbell or dumbbell bench press (flat and incline) 3 sets of 3-5 reps
  • Dumbbell or cable fly’s 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Push-ups – 3 sets of 20-50 reps

Do you have man boobs? Have you managed to fix them?

See you in the comments

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Getting Your Groove Back After Injury

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Avoid gym injuries

If there has been one thing that has affected me (like some kind of chronic disease) since I began to workout, it would injury. Whether it’s been self-inflicted or not, this has been the No.1 reason that has hindered me in achieving top workout results.  In my case, it had been an on going battle with a dislocated shoulder. Once you have a dislocated shoulder, it can always come back out, all it takes is for one odd ‘out of motion’ movement to happen and ‘pop’… out it comes. Injuries like this not only affect you physically, it also affects you mentally as well. The mental aspect of an injury will lead to thoughts such as

‘I’m injured, I’m gonna be out of action for weeks… again!’

‘That pain was insane… what if it happens too many times, my arm my fall off!’

Some of it might sound a bit silly, but when you are in pain you can’t help but think the worst. But it doesn’t have to be like that, after all, there is a positive in every negative. A silver lining in every dark cloud!

You can still workout

You can still work out because most injuries consist of one muscle or joint. Yes, if you workout while injured you may feel pain from moving that injured muscle, but most of it is psychological. Just isolate that muscle completely with bandages or whatever else you may decide to use.

The key thing here is that you must change your mind set from,

‘I’m out of action, time to curl up into a ball and cry’

To

‘What exercises can I do now that I’m injured’?

Better yet, try and avoid injury altogether by warming up, warming down and stretching before every exercise.

How to workout when injured

A key thing to avoid is compound exercises. These exercises work all joints of the body, such as doing rows and squats. When you are getting back into the groove of working out there are some things to keep in mind, some may seem like common sense, but many still seem to forget them.

Take it slow

You will naturally still want to push yourself like you do normally, but slow it down, you’re still injured.

Alternate exercises

By doing this you will prevent possible further injury, as working on one muscle group repetitively in one motion can lead to that.

Slight Pains or sores

If you do start to feel pain on your existing injury or else where, STOP!
Rest for a day, and then come back. If the pain persists after this then you should definitely see a doctor… (We don’t want your arm falling off now…eh)

It could possibly be a sore. If it is, you will probably feel soreness 24hrs after the workout, not during. The cure is simple. Rest and eat some pasta with meat and drink coffee or green tea. (Helps with muscle recovery)

Don’t try to be a hero

No one cares that you can train in pain. But you will care once the doctor tells you that you have a near terminal injury that will put you out of action for good. That is not cool, trust me, I’ve seen it!

Exercises to perform when injured
Lat pulldowns

Now that you know what not to do when injured, I’ll now describe what you can do when certain muscles are out of action.

Shoulders and elbows

Shoulder or other upper body injuries often allow the most possibility for continuing traditional cardio exercise because the lower body can still be worked on. This would include activities such as,

  • Walking (Treadmill – with care!)
  • Stair climbing
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical trainer

And exercises such as,

  • Leg press
  • Ab crunch
  • Lunges
  • Low back extensions

Circuit training routines are another option. By doing a circuit with the above exercises you will maintain strength and power in the non-injured muscles and joints. Do these 4-5 times a week and you won’t even realise that you had an injury to begin with.

Leg and knees

This is a tough one, because almost all exercises require the movement of the knee joints. Being injured here might leave you wanting to reconsider and stay at home, but don’t give in. Key activities would include,

  • One-legged cycling
  • Kayaking
  • An upper body ergo meter (hand cycle)
  • Swimming

Key exercises would include,

  • Pull-Up or Assisted Pull-Up
  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pull down
  • Overhead Press
  • Seated Cable Rows

Lower back injuries

These types of injuries really are no joke. If you get an injury here, be sure to consult with your doctor first, as further damage will almost definitely put you out of action for more than 3-4 weeks. Activities would include,

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Recumbent cycling

Key exercises would include,

  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pull down
  • Overhead Press
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Leg Extension Machine
  • Wall Sit

Foot or ankle injuries

Providing that you can still walk and move around and only one foot is out of action, you have plenty of options to workout while injured. Activities would include,

  • Rowing machine or a stationary bike with one leg
  • Swimming is a possibility

Key exercises would include,

  • Leg Extension Machine
  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pull down
  • Overhead Press
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Stability Ball Push-Up
  • Ab ‘Bicycle’ Crunches
  • Hanging Leg Raise

There you have it. No longer will you be curling up into a ball and crying when you are injured. If you are, it’s not likely that your body will change much in 3-4 weeks of being out of action anyhow. They key thing here is finding or keeping that motivation going and keeping in the groove. If you do have troubles doing so, I’d be happy to be your gym partner 😉

See you in the comments.

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Introducing Bugs Weekly Workout Routine

August 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Bugs Workout Routines, The Fitness Bug

Bugs workout routineIt’s Friday folks! The weekend starts today. Well… for most it should, if not then enjoy the time until it comes. By now, I hope most of you have enjoyed the posts and topics I have covered so far on stayfitbug.com. That will not stop! But today it is time to introduce workout routines, those of which I have personally experienced. This is to be known as:

BUGS WEEKLY WORKOUT ROUTINES

Every week I will post a workout schedule, some cardio based, some weights based or a variation of both, and the results that you can aim to achieve from doing them. By outlaying the results you can expect to achieve, it will be easy to identify if the post will be related to you or not. They will be based on what I’ve learned from being an athlete and from since being into fitness, and how effective I found them to be.

Today’s workout routine: Beginner weight training (building for muscle mass)

Ideal for: Beginners and those with busy schedules

I find that it is always best to try and start your workout week on a Monday. This allows you to fully utilize the weekdays and keep your weekends for rest days. Remember this (Balance)

Make sure you perform 1 – 2 sets of Warm-up exercises. Stretch before every first set.

Bugs Workout  Week # 1

KEY

Flat bench press

Flat bench press

Incline bench press

Incline bench press

Dumbbell Flys

Dumbbell Flys

barbell shoulder press

Shoulder press

Lateral raises

Lateral raises

Abdominal crunches

Abdominal crunches

Wrist curls

Wrist curls

Chin ups

Chin ups

Lat pulldowns

Lat pulldowns

bent over rows

bent over rows

Dead lifts

Dead lifts

Bench dips

Bench dips

Squats

Squats

Leg curls

Leg curls

Calf raises

Calf raises

Standing barbell curl

Standing barbell curl

Seated barbell curl

Seated barbell curl

Wrist curls

Wrist curls

Read more

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