How to get a six pack for martial arts

Six pack abs are another very important set of muscles for the Karateka. In addition to being necessary for all round body strength, they are equally vital in protecting the internal organs against body punches, either accidental or intentional. It doesn’t matter how strong you are everywhere else, if you are weak in this area you are very vulnerable.
Fortunately, abdominal muscles are not hard to develop. What does seem hard, is for the average trainer to know just how to develop them properly. In any Gym or Sports centre you see people in all sports doing endless sit-ups and leg raises. These movements are now regarded as obsolete for the following reason.
Essentially, the abdominal muscles are not muscles of movement. Unlike, say, the biceps muscles which have the function of rotating the wrist and curling the hand to the shoulder; or the chest muscles which primarily draw the arm across the chest; the abdominals have no similar function involving movement. Their main purpose is to hold the body erect. Every body movement backwards, forwards or sideways involves the ab­dominals in a tensing movement, in an effort to keep the body upright.
It is now therefore realised that only very slight physical move­ments are necessary to work these muscles. While it is true that old fashioned sit-ups and leg raises do develop the abdominals to some extent, they are nevertheless, not true abdominal movements. When doing sit-ups with your feet hooked under a bar or strap you are getting a lot of assistance in sitting up from the legs and lower back. Likewise with leg raises, the lower back is very much involved in raising the legs upwards and backwards. The key to effective training in this area is to isolate the abdominal exercise from the assistance of the legs and lower back. This can be done quite easily and a whole number of movements have been developed with which to do this. Not only is it more effective, it’s easier too.
For the upper abdominals, the best exercises are what are termed ‘crunching movements’. These are performed very simply, so simply in fact that at first you may feel that you are not doing enough, that the movement is not working. You will in fact be working the abdominals more efficiently than ever before, if you have never done this type of movement previously. One of the best is performed as follows: You lie on the floor. Draw your heels right up to the buttocks with your knees pointing out to the side. If possible tuck the heels under the buttocks slightly. Now, place your hands on to the sides of the waist. Bring your chin on to your chest so you are looking forwards. Now, in a rapid crunching movement sit up as far as you can, lower steadily, sit up again, and repeat for the required number of repetitions.
If you are performing it right, you should be moving no more than about six inches. Naturally enough this varies, but the movement has to be quite short to be effective. The main thing to watch is that your knees remain pointed out to the sides as there is a tendency to let them drift in to the centre in an unconscious effort to assist the abdominals to perform the act of sitting up. If you resist this tendency you will be placing all the work on the abdominals, and none on the legs and lower back.
A similar movement is performed on a bench, or a pad or towel on the floor. This time lie down, place your hands behind your head and pull the head forward. Next bring your knees back­wards so that they are virtually touching your elbows. In this position, bring the elbows forward and the knees back to touch each other, at the same time contracting the abdominals strongly. After a few reps the abdominals will ache and continue to ache more and more as you continue.
A similar action is used for developing the lower abdominals. You sit in the middle of a fairly high bench, feet hanging down, hands on each side, supporting you. Now, keeping the knees bent, bring them up to the chest, lowering your chin forwards, so that at the completion of the movement you are in a tuck position, tensing the abdominal muscles strongly. Lower the legs back to the start and repeat.
Those are the three basic new abdominal movements, and con­tinued practice of them is all you need for strong, well developed abdominals. Forget about the old way of doing sit-ups and leg raises, whatever anyone tells you. All you’ll get with them in the long run is lower back ache.
It’s worthwhile at this point to say a word about the number of repetitions required to train the abdominals. Many people are of the belief that to train the waist, and reduce it, you need to perform hundreds and hundreds of reps. This is not so. First of all, it would not matter if you did ten thousand sit-ups a day, you would not reduce your waist if your diet wasn’t right. Diet is what reduces waist size, exercise is what develops the muscles. The abdominals are quite small muscles and don’t use very many calories, so even performing thousands of sit-ups doesn’t have much effect in using calories up and thereby reducing the weight and the waist. In fact, if you were trying to use up excess calories, doing 10 reps of heavy squats, using the large leg muscles, would burn more calories up than a hundred sit-ups, or leg raises for that matter. The simple truth is that the abdominals get a lot of exercise in most other training movements. During the course of a workout, they are in an almost continuous state of tension and receive a great deal of work.
Therefore, you only need to give them a small amount of direct work to keep them in top condition. On average, three sets of about twenty repetitions is all you need of one good exercise, in order to keep the abdominals in top shape. As far as the side of the waist is concerned, the Karateka needs to take no direct action as far as exercise is concerned. Not only is this part of the body worked during other routine movements, but the sport of Karate itself gives a lot of work to this area, so there is no need to give it any further attention. This covers the exercise descriptions of the basic exercises for the major bodyparts. The specialist routines described later in the book will include many of these movements, adapted to the requirements of the Karateka. Where any movement has not been described in this section, as for example the leg exercises, then details will be given in the routine. These exercise descriptions and special ways of performing them will be of considerable advantage to you in your weight training, little things make a lot of difference in weight training, as they do in Karate.
Therefore, for the best results try and follow the methods outlined, always allowing of course for your own particular body structure and body type. After a certain period of time, you will find that you will get into a kind of training groove, in which all the movements you do will feel just right to you. This, like anything else, comes with experience. Next, before going into the actual routines, we will describe how to use them for maximum benefit.

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