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Pec Striations

My pecs are thick from heavy bench presses and dips, but I don’t have any striations. Yet I’ve done hundreds of sets of crossovers over the last year or so. What’s wrong?

You could do thousands of sets of crossovers over many years and still see no striations in your pecs. Alternatively, you could no crossovers whatsoever yet still see striations. (Similarly, you could do countless sets of crunches yet never see your abs.) The key issue is your bodyfat percentage. No matter how large your pecs are, and no matter how many crossovers you do, if your bodyfat percentage is too high you will never see your pec striations. (Similarly, no matter how much ab work you do, if you have too much fat over your abs you will never see your six pack.)

If you want your pec striations to be visible, gradually reduce your bodyfat percentage to under 10% – sufficiently under to produce the required visibility.

Also don’t do crossovers thinking that they will build big pecs. They may help you to build some additional detail in your pecs, which you would see only if you are very lean, but they won’t build a lot of muscle, at least not if you are a typical, natural bodybuilder.


Most Effective Ab Exercises

The Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University conducted a study to analyse 13 of the most common ab exercises and then ranked them from best to worst. Exercises included in the study were traditional crunches, modified crunches, partial bodyweight exercises, and exercises using home and gym equipment. Researchers measured activity in the upper and lower rectus abdominis, external obliques, and the rectus femoris. Exercises requiring constant ab stabilisation and body rotation created the most muscle activity in the obliques. The best exercise for working the obliques are the captain’s chair, bicycles and reverse crunch. The best exercise to target the rectus abdominis are the bicycles, captain’s chair and exercise-ball crunches.


Abs Routine

Here is a simple abs routine you can complete to help you get some great abs.

Decline Bench Crunch – 1 set, 15-30 reps
Supported Tuck Crunch – 1 set, 15-30 reps
Hip Thrusts – 1 set, 10-25 reps
Captain’s chair Leg Raise – 1 set, 15-35 reps
Knee-up – 1 set, 30-50 reps


Hip Thrusts

Here is an abs exercise and the correct way of performing it:

–          Lie faceup on a flat bench holding onto the sides for balance.

–          Bend your hips about 90 degrees, raising your legs straight in the air.

–          Contract your lower abs to lift your hips and glutes off the bench (the range of motion is just a few inches). Think of pushing your heels into the ceiling.

–          Lower under control and repeat for reps.

Note: The diagram above is a decline bench hip thrust.

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Supported Tuck Crunch

–          Lie on the floor and rest your calves on a flat bench.

–          Your hips and knees should be bent about 90 degrees, thighs perpendicular to the floor. Cup your head with your hands to support it, but don’t pull on your head.

–          Contract your abs to rise up as high as you can and bring your shoulder blades off the floor, squeezing your abs at the top.

–          Lower under control but stop short of allowing your shoulder blades to touch down between reps.