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Series: "M90F: Matt's 90-day Fitness"
I woke up at 1:45 this morning, and at 2:15 I decided that I was going out to the living room to watch T.V. At 3:30 I decided I wasn't going to be able to sleep (or didn't want to go to sleep around 4:00 and wake up at 5:00). So I decided to get my push-ups and ab-wheel done (I'll still go walking this afternoon). So am I going to stretch this morning also? Probably. It's 4:20 right now, and Sarah won't be up until 5:00.
My ab workout is going very well. I did my 1st reps from my toes on the ab-wheel! I've been limiting myself to 6 reps, 2 sets of the ab-wheel. Six reps is about the most you can do at your max-effort (i.e. from my toes) which builds the most strength/muscle tension, which is what gives rock-hard abs. When I finish my ab workout these days I can see my abs in the mirror when I'm just standing regularly now. It reminded me of a time in my first 2 years of college when I was on a run and somebody told me to quit flexing my abs, but I wasn't; I just had very little body fat, and at that time because of doing Tae Kwon do so much I had really strong abs and so had residual muscle tension.
Six reps is also the max you can do before you start building a ton of muscle (between 8-12 reps). I once knew a lady who, after being pregnant, wanted to get a smaller waistline. To do this, she did tons of ab workouts, but would do so until failure repeatedly (she really worked hard at it) and ended up building a ton of muscle, her abs. She ended up looking like she was still pregnant (literally, I myself thought so, and so did many others who were there), and even let me punch her in the stomach. It was rock hard. The doctor told her she unfortunately had built up all that muscle, and there wasn't any way to get rid of it! Only selective surgery or muscle atrophy would get rid of it, so basically she was stuck. The moral of this story is: do 6 or less reps per set, no more than 2-3 sets; this will build rock hard strong abs. Otherwise, do well over 15 reps (ex: 50 reps of leg scissors) per set, and I'd suggest 1-2 sets max with plenty of rest between sets; this will give you endurance, but not as much pure strength, and not as much rock-hard definition.
If you're doing the ab-wheel (which I recommend if you didn't already know) and are starting to move towards your toes, do maybe 1-2 reps from your knees on your first set to get the blood flowing and muscles working, then try to do the negative of your 3rd rep without dropping to your knees. On your way back up, try to leave your knees as soon as you can, and pull yourself the rest of the way up on your toes.
Besides the first 1-2 reps in set 1, you should do the reps from your toes first (i.e. in set 1 do reps 3-5 from your toes; in set 2, do reps 1-4 from your toes), and do the last 1-2 reps from your knees again to make sure you are still in proper form after having blasted your abs from the reps from your toes. You want to train yourself to keep perfect form because otherwise your abs aren't working as hard, and you could injure yourself (note: in a few weeks though, do all reps from your toes when you're a machine). Don't forget to breathe as I've said before; pressure in your head can build if you hold your breath.
Gotta go stretch. I hope your workout is also showing improvements!