Home Gym Abdominal Secrets

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Question: I have a home gym and some odd questions. Hope you can help me. Should I use weight when doing abdominal exercises, specifically, rope crunches and side crunches? Is there any way to not have to drop dumbbells when I am through with a set? I am afraid I will break something and it sounds like a bomb going off if I drop them.
Answer: I applaud you for having a home gym because it is tough to train at home with the distractions that go along with it. Your questions were valid and universal, not just for home gyms. The abdominal wall is a sheet of muscle that connects the upper torso to the hips basically. There is no real distinction between upper abs and lower abs though you can feel more muscle burn in different areas with different exercises. The function of your abs is to shorten the distance between the shoulders and hips. Without skeletal resistance you would theoretically be able to bend your body into a “U” by contracting your abs fully. Also you still have obliques and intercostals that complete the package. That being said, should you use additional weight to exercise the abs? You may get a little more building in those “blocks” that make up your “six-pack” by using a light weight, up to 10 pounds for incline sit-ups or some crunches. Rope crunches, by the nature of the exercise, need weight resistance but just enough to feel the muscle contract. I would not use any weight for any exercises that work your obliques or intercostals. Those can build, over time, thickness through those muscles making your waist a bit wider. The best method is to really focus on the contraction during the reps. It’s not the number of reps or the amount of sets, it is the contraction on the rep. When you reach the apex of the rep, contract as if you were going to get hit in the stomach. That’s how boxers have trained for years to build that added degree of hardness.
Gym owners have always dealt with the destructiveness of egos and ignorance when it comes to gym equipment. If you are throwing dumbbells down then you simply haven’t been taught how to get them up or down properly. To get them up, place the dumbbell on your knees while you are still squatting just above the bench. As you rock back and your rear hits the bench, lift your knees with the dumbbells attached to them until your dumbbells are just above your chest with your arms extended. You are now in the ready position to begin pressing. When you finish the last rep and your arms are still extended, rotate the dumbbells, lift your knees up towards the dumbbells and move the dumbbells towards your knees. As the they touch, the end of the dumbbell is resting on your knee, your body will upright itself and put you back into a seated position with the dumbbells sitting on your knees as they were when you started the set. It will become second nature with a little practice and it works whether you are using 5 pound or 150 pound dumbbells.
Contract those abs so that they define not grow and remember, if you can’t put the dumbbells down the right way don’t pick them up.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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