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Putting The Finishing Touches On Awesome Abs

Well-defined abdominal muscles are a prominent goal for a lot of men. What exactly does this mean, though? Are you just looking for a stomach that shows off the existence of your abs? Or would you rather develop abdominals with real heft to them that show off both bulging muscles and chiseled valleys?

The difference between the two is clear if you flip through a magazine or two. You'll see that simply getting lean is enough to demonstrate the existence of the abdominal muscles. It takes serious muscle mass to build and show off three-dimensional abs that have real heft to them. 

Now it's true that from a fitness standpoint, bulking up your abs doesn't really convey any health benefits. The abdominals perform a modest job in keeping you healthy and fit, and they don't need a lot of power to do it. That doesn't matter from an aesthetic standpoint, though. Plenty of bodybuilders have demonstrated that's it's possible to bulk up the abs, and so it's something a lot of us aspire to. All it takes is plenty of effective exercise with plenty of resistance.

First things first: You have to keep in mind that low overall levels of body fat are the essential prerequisite to showing off your abs. Until you get your body fat down to nine (or even eight) percent, any work you put into developing your abs is going to remain hidden. Hit that number, though, and your abdominal muscles will appear as if by magic.

Don't be dismayed if your initial look at your abs doesn't live up to your expectations. Once you can see them, you can really start working on them!

This general tension between leanness and muscle mass can be seen in other areas of your body. In your arms, for example, keeping fat to a minimum will expose the muscles and the divisions between them, but it won't lend any size to individual groups like the biceps and triceps. You're probably already aware that you need to do plenty of curls to build up the biceps and triceps. Increasing the amount of weight you use over time increases the amount of resistance you subject the muscles to. This forces them to get stronger and bigger as you continue to work out.

You can use the same methodology to cultivate bigger, more prominent abdominal muscles.

Basic ab exercises will provide a little bit of a workout. You may be spending plenty of time on hanging leg raises or planks or rollouts on an ab wheel or a Swiss ball. You'll note that there's a limit to what these exercises can do for you, though. Your body adapts over time and eventually it will be more than strong enough to handle these exercises no matter how many reps you subject yourself to. 

In order to move forward, you're going to need to work against more than the weight of your own body.

You can make hanging leg raises effective again by strapping on a pair of ankle weights. (If you're looking for a real challenge, try holding a medicine ball with your ankles while you do your leg raises.) When they have extra weight to cope with, your abs will start to burn. Over time they'll begin growing again, leading to the prominence and mass you're looking for.

Apply this same general principle to all of your ab exercises. Put on a haversack and throw a weight plate or two in it before you hit the ab wheel. Hold a plate in both hands and try Swiss ball crunches again. Do you favor the classic crunch? Try doing them while you hold a weight plate beneath your head.

It takes time and effort to build the sort of 3-D abs that people find truly impressive. Tackle the problem with dedication and challenge yourself with added weight when you do your ab exercises. It's not easy, but it works! 

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