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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If You Want To Look Great In A T-Shirt, You Need To Know Your Bodybuilding ABC's


Wouldn't it be great to turn heads with admiration and respect every time you went out in your favorite t-shirt, tank top or muscle tee? To get this reaction, you need the bodybuilding "ABC's" of tight, toned Abs, big, muscular Biceps and a thick, chiseled Chest. Here are a few exercises and training tips to help you start building the strong, t-shirt bustin' upper body you deserve!

A. Abs Training

To look great in a t-shirt, you don't need to have "six-pack abs" to the extent this term means a super lean or "ripped" mid-section. If you want a "six-pack," by all means, go for it - but understand that getting a shredded core requires a lot of cardio work and disciplined eating to reduce your overall body fat percentage. To do this, you'll need to add cardio training and bodybuilding nutrition to the workout tips provided in this article.

But to simply jump start your abs into looking better in a t-shirt, the first thing you should do is tighten and flatte! n your abdominal wall with the following basic exercises.

1. Abdominal Curls or "Crunches"

Though this exercise gets a lot of negative press, I've used crunches effectively for years to tone and flatten my abdominal wall. Crunches are especially good for tightening the middle and upper portion of the abs just below the pecs. Some people have trouble doing this exercise due to back or neck pain, especially those who already have lower back problems. To avoid lower back strain, don't move your hips as you contract your abs to raise your body from the floor. Also, if you have your hands behind your head, don't pull them forward as you raise your upper body to avoid any possible neck pain. Instead, make your abs do the work of pulling your sternum forward to complete the "crunch" motion. For more advanced training, perform the same movement with your knees elevated 90 degrees from the floor or add a twisting motion to work your obliques.

2. Incline Leg Lifts

To balance out your abs training, incline leg lifts are g! reat for tightening the lower abdominal area just below your navel. Simply lie back on an incline board with your legs together and grasp the handle above your head. Contract your abs and slowly raise your legs as though to touch your knees to your nose. Then slowly return to the starting position so that your abs continue to work through the negative portion of this exercise.

If you don't have access to an incline board, sit on the end of a flat bench with your legs together and your arms behind you at shoulder width. Lean back about 45 degrees and extend your legs forward using your arms to support your body weight. Contract your abs and slowly pull your knees toward your chest to work your lower abs. Make sure to keep your form as you return to the starting position to work your abs during the negative portion of this movement.

3. Rope-Handle Pulley Crunches

Rope-Handle Pulley Crunches are great for tightening the entire abdominal region. Just make sure that you! don't use heavy weight with this exercise. The goal here is to tighten and flatten your abs rather than enlarging them through heavy weight training. To perform this exercise, grasp the rope handles at shoulder height while kneeling in an upright position with your back to the pulley machine. Crunch your upper body forward to pull the rope handles and your chest down towards your thighs. Contract your abs fully so that you can really feel them squeeze at the bottom of this movement. Slowly return to the starting position to get negative resistance from this exercise.

B. Biceps Training

Your biceps are the first thing anyone notices when you wear a t-shirt. Whether you're carrying groceries or curling a barbell, your biceps are involved in all of your basic lifting movements. And no other muscle area symbolizes physical power like beefy, bulging biceps. So if you want to look great in t-shirt, you need big, muscular biceps. Try the following exercises to get sta! rted building a serious set of GUNS.

1. Concentration Cu! rls

< p>Sit comfortably on a flat workout bench with your knees slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Lean slightly forward and grasp a dumbbell in your right hand with your arm extended toward the floor and your elbow anchored against the inside of your right leg. Make sure that your hand is fully supinated and that you remain stabilized on the bench throughout each repetition. Don't jerk your upper body or the dumbbell to gain additional leverage or momentum. Slowly curl the dumbbell by contracting your biceps and flexing your forearm toward your upper arm. You should curl the weight to a point just below your chin for full biceps contraction. Return to the starting position and repeat.

2. Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls

This exercise is one of the best biceps builders ever - as long as you sit on a bench that has a back rest to prevent torso movement. Too many people do this exercise either standing or sitting on a bench without back support. In order to make s! ure that your biceps get the most work from this movement you must stabilize your torso so as to prevent any jerking motion. Also, remember to supinate your hands throughout each repetition - do not begin or end this exercise with your hands in a neutral or pronated position.

3. Chin Ups

Chin Ups are an excellent compound bodyweight exercise for building strength and mass in your biceps. This exercise also thickens the latissimus dorsi ("lats") and rhomboid muscles on the sides and upper-middle portion of your back. Simply grasp the Chin Up bar with an underhand grip and your arms shoulder-width apart. Inhale as you pull your body upward until your chin nearly touches the bar. Exhale as you lower your body to return to the starting position.

C. Chest Training

Even if your abs are tight and your GUNS are smokin', you won't look or feel your best without a solid, muscular chest. Try the chest exercises below to make sure that your t-shirt doesn't droop! from lack of pectoral development!

1. Weighted Pushups

Ta ke a standard pushup position with your hands and arms extended and shoulder-width apart. Have a training buddy gently place a 5-10 pound barbell plate on your back to force your chest to work harder than it would with a standard pushup (you can increase the amount of weight as needed). Make sure you keep your back straight and your head up to balance the weight and put maximum resistance on your chest. Slowly lower your chest to nearly touch the floor and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

2. Parallel Bar Dips

Parallel Bar Dips are great for adding mass and shape to your entire pectoral area. Simply grasp the handles of a parallel dip apparatus and hold your body suspended between them. For primary training emphasis on your chest, lean forward as you perform this exercise. Inhale as you lower yourself as far down as you can comfortably descend and then exhale as you push yourself back up to the starting position.

3. Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press is also great for adding size, strength and shape to your chest. I recommend this exercise over barbell bench press because it allows you to stretch your chest through a greater range of motion and stimulate more muscle fibers for better growth. So if you really want to pack your t-shirts with powerful pecs, this is the way to do it!

Putting It All Together

For fun and training variety, I like to mix and match these exercises into what I call my "t-shirt muscle workouts." That means instead of only doing these exercises as part of an abs, arms or chest training session, I mix these exercises into various workouts using supersets or tri-sets. For example, I sometimes do tri-sets of abdominal crunches, concentration curls and parallel bar dips. I also do supersets of dumbbell bench press with incline leg lifts or alternating dumbbell curls with rope-handle pulley crunches. You should experiment with different combinations of these exercis! es as well. I'm sure that you'll find them fun and rewarding w! hen it c omes to building a strong, t-shirt bustin' physique!

Mark G. Winston, "The Master Gunslinger," is author of the ground-breaking training manual, "GO For Your GUNS - 7 Simple Secrets to AWESOME ARMS." He has also created GOforyourGUNS.com, a bodybuilding and fitness website dedicated entirely to helping you build big, muscular arms. Mark's forthcoming book will be jammed with workouts and training techniques to help you build the big, muscular arms that you deserve! To learn about the GO For Your GUNS bodybuilding system and get free arm training tips that really work, visit http://www.GOforyourGUNS.com

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