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Get the Body You Deserve: Three Rock-Hard Ab Workout Techniques
There’s no need to break your back to harden your gut. but it worked for Owen McKibbin. He built his chiseled midsection while suffering from a broken back. Doctors think McKibbin, who has appeared on seven Men’s Health Magazine covers (including November 2000), may have been born with a fractured vertebra in his lower back, or he may have broken it in college while exercising with an injured ankle. Either way, McKibbin carried that snapped bone around with him until a physician diagnosed it when he was 30.
“The only thing that relieved the pain was keeping my stomach tight and my hamstrings loose,” says McKibbin, now 35. He still works out six days a week, training his midsection and doing 45 minutes of aerobics. For those ambitious athletes out there looking for a rock hard abs workout, here’s McKibbin’s three-part plan:
1. Cat back
A traditional yoga move, this exercise works the strap of muscles that run from the top of your hip-bones to the bottom of your neck. Rest on your hands and knees on a padded surface, with your hands (palms down) directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Slowly raise your head toward the ceiling, and reverse arch your back by pressing your midsection toward the floor. Hold this starting position for a moment; then, drop your head between your arms and suck in your gut to round your back, like a cat. Pause and return to the starting position. Do three sets of 20 repetitions.
There’s a reason so many people use crunches in an attempt to create a hard ab workout — the results are astounding. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, your fingers touching (but not interlocked). Bring your heels close to your butt, keep your knees together, and pigeon-toe your feet. Once you’re in position, sit up and lift your shoulders as if you were trying to touch your ribs to your pelvis. Pause for a second, then lower your shoulders (but don’t relax your abs), and repeat. McKibbin breathes through his nose for a more effective crunch as part of his rock abs workout. Do one set of 25 reps.
3. Decline Curlup
This is tough, and you will need to use a decline bench (slant board) adjusted so it’s almost flat, but slightly declined. Lie on your back with your head near the top of the board, secure your feet under the padded bars and grab the board above you. Bend your knees and lift your feet so they’re close to your butt. Slowly curl your knees toward your chest as you exhale. Inhale when you lower your hips. McKibbin does five sets of 20 reps; you should probably start with two sets of 15. Increase the angle of the decline bench as you gain strength.
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