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LL Cool J's Favorite Workout

He can still knock you out with those chiseled arms-even after a quarter-century as one of the world's most successful entertainers. Trainer Jimmy Pena outlines the finer points of LL's rigorous regimen.

4. ABS

Even though the six-pack looks like several individual muscles, the 6-pack or rectus abdominis is really only one muscle. Running vertically from your sternum to your pelvis, the rectus is a thin sheath of continuous muscle, and while you can't isolate the upper or lower portion, you can emphasize an area with specific movements. This particular example of LL's routine is all bodyweight driven, and therefore each set is taken to failure. However, occasionally, if LL wants to make his abs more pronounced, he'll involve some weighted moves.

REVERSE CRUNCH

Sets: 2-3 Reps: To Failure Rest: 30 sec

STANDARD CRUNCH

Sets: 2-3 Reps: To Failure Rest: 30 sec

DOUBLE CRUNCH

Sets: 2-3 Reps: To Failure Rest: 30 sec

The rectus abdominis (upper and lower abs) is responsible for the standard crunching motion - moving your ribcage toward your pelvis. It also gets trained in the opposite direction, bringing your pelvis to your ribcage, as in the reverse crunch. LL combines them in a very difficult move called the double crunch.

 

CROSSOVER CRUNCH

Sets: 2-3 Reps: To Failure Rest: 30 sec

He hits the obliques with the crossover crunch. The obliques are along both sides of the rectus abdominis and run diagonally from your lower ribs to near your hipbone. The external obliques are the ones you can see, as they're superficial to the internal obliques, which are hidden underneath. The internal and external fibers run in opposite directions. Both the internal and external obliques are responsible for torso rotation and lateral flexion of the torso.

 

PLANK

Sets: 2-3 Reps: To Failure Rest: 30 sec

The transverse abdominis (core) lies beneath the rectus abdominis, and whereas the rectus fibers run vertically, the transverse fibers run horizontally. The main function of the transverse abdominis is initiating abdominal compression during an intense exhale. You'll find this function very useful during core exercises such as this exercise here, the plank, where you need to keep your navel drawn in tight. Typically we finish off the day with the plank.

Which brings me to a good point. We always work abs last in our routine, simply because you never want to fatigue your core and abs prior to other bodyparts. Because of the support they give for all other exercises, it makes the most sense to save abs and core for the very last thing of the day.

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