While most bodybuilding fans pay attention to the arms, back, or legs, it’s the abs that truly make a competitor’s physique look like a work of art. A well-defined six-pack and a tight waist make the rest of the body appear larger and give it a more appealing look.
And it’s not just for the smaller competitors in categories like classic or men’s physique — the biggest mass monsters have had to work on their midsection to secure a Sandow. History has seen competitors lose points, or even a title, for neglecting the abs.
Your abs are made up of six muscle groups: the rectus abdominis, multifidi, erector spinae, internal obliques, external obliques, and transverse abdominis. Most exercises and trainers only focus on the first one, as this is the muscle group that’s most visible and gets the most action — it’s responsible for pulling your knees to and from your torso (so it’s pretty vital when it comes to moves like hanging leg raises or the classic crunches). But a good bodybuilder knows that you have to hit every muscle group to get a set of abs that’ll turn heads during beach season, or impress judges at bodybuilding’s biggest event.
When done properly, there are plenty of compound moves that hit the abs, but you’re leaving plenty of gains on the table by not doing some isolation moves on them. While abs are made in the kitchen, they’re certainly sculpted in the gym, and these four Mr. Olympia winners knew that and committed serious time to their midsections.
Take some tips from the pros.