The six pros featured in the Flex August 2008 feature, "Center of Attention," give advice on sculpting a killer six-pack. For their full routines, check out the issue, on newsstands through August 11.

July 14, 2008

Written by FLEX Staff

1) How can a bodybuilder draw attention to his abs onstage?

EDDIE ABBEW: "There are very few pro bodybuilders who don't have good abs. We try to keep them tense all the time onstage, but it's pretty difficult to sustain. I've been in prejudging where we've been onstage for 2½ hours, and it's impossible to hold your abs and not let it go for a while."

JIMMY CANYON: "Having a slight vacuum is probably the most you can do [to attract attention]. You can suck it in a little, but either they're there or they're not. If they're developed and you have the right level of bodyfat or leanness, then they're going to show. No matter what you do, push them out or suck them in, it's not going to matter. If they're there, they're going to look impressive."

CHRIS CORMIER: "I worked with Joe Weider on this, as a matter of fact; not many people can say that. Also, I kind of stole a trick from one of the great ones, Kevin Levrone. Kevin was a master. When he did his ab shots, he'd make a noise, like SHHHHHH, and then wave his hand over the abs on the opposite side. You can't help but to look there, he's making noise [and a gesture], while you see a dramatic change in his body. That's going to catch your eye.

"In my posing routine, I got this roll. Not many people do it, because they can't. I can do it both ways, up and down. You're waiting for it to stop, so you can see my abs. It's like the ocean, with crashing waves. With dramatic music, the crowd loves it when they see something different and then it ends with these great abs—the old rolling abs trick."

AHMAD HAIDAR: "There's no separate muscle group that gets the judges' attention. The judges need the complete package and good condition, too. Abs by themselves don't mean anything, and the same thing with the other muscles. Bodybuilding is size, condition and the complete package. You need to work out all the muscles the same. Don't miss anything."

JOHNNIE JACKSON: "Just make sure they look good, that they're ripped, and that you've paid attention to detail when you're preparing for a show. Don't ever breathe heavy in and out. Keep your abs tight, so they're constantly flexed and look good onstage."

RICHARD "TRICKY" JACKSON: "If you do a side triceps properly, there's a slight twist toward the judges where they get a really good look at your obliques and your abs. It's important to try to keep your abs tight in every pose and every movement. When I practice my posing, which I do daily at competition time, I always concentrate on making sure I keep my abs tight in every pose. Even when doing my posing routine, I try to do the same thing. When I watch comparisons, I see that athletes have a tendency to relax their abs, and I think that reflects the athletes' conditioning in the judges' minds. If the judges can see a six-pack at any time, they know you're in shape."

2) How important is dieting when it comes to displaying abs at their best?

EDDIE ABBEW: "If you want to see your abs, it doesn't matter how hard, long or intensively you train them. If your diet's not right, you won't see them. Some people with a faster metabolism can eat whatever they want, but they are few and far between. Most of us have to eat relatively well to see our abs."

JIMMY CANYON: "It's very important. My bodyfat needs to be between three and four percent for the abs I'm traditionally known for. I hardly ever get over seven percent, so they always stick out, because even though I might have more water and a little more fat on my body, you can still see the blocks. I call it a turtle shell."

CHRIS CORMIER: "You can build abs all you want during the offseason, but if you can't see them, it doesn't matter. I don't overstuff myself when I eat. When I've had enough to eat, then I stop. I eat enough food, but I watch my waistline for bloating. As you get older, you have to keep readjusting your diet to your age and to your metabolism."

AHMAD HAIDAR: "It's all dieting. I train abs all year around, and they don't look the same when I'm not dieting. When I start dieting, the abs start showing 100% better. In two months of dieting, I get to the best-quality clear-condition abs."

JOHNNIE JACKSON: "It's never one thing. You can't just do ab exercises and expect to have a six pack. You have to watch your diet, do your cardio and also do the exercises. You also need the proper water intake, so you're not holding water and hiding your abs. Manipulate your body into thinking that you're still taking in the same amount. Say you're drinking a gallon of water a day, and you spread it out throughout the day. If you cut that gallon in half, but drink it at the same times, you can fool your body into thinking that you're still taking in the same amount, so it's still draining the same way and you don't start holding water for starvation tactics. That's going to make your abs stick out even more."

RICHARD "TRICKY" JACKSON: "It depends on the individual. Certain guys genetically have really good abs; their abs come in early in their diets. Jimmy Canyon might be a good example. Jimmy basically has good abs year-round. He can come in at 90%, and his abs are still going to look really good. My abs come in a little bit later, but my obliques and glute lines are the last things to come in for me. Diet is definitely vital, especially if those are trouble areas. For me, diet is crucial."

3) What can you do to affect shape and size in the rectus abdominis or six-pack?

JIMMY CANYON: "Really, that's just bodyfat. Removing the water does make a big difference, but I'm trying to get to where I don't have to suck water out. If you're lean enough, when you don't have much fat on your body, you won't hold water anyway. If you suck water out, your abs will really poke out. Your other muscles might suffer, but your abs won't."

CHRIS CORMIER: "It depends on the way you're genetically made as to how they're going to turn out. Some people have a side of their body shorter than the other, you can tell that by the lining up of the abs. There's nothing you can do about genetics. What you got is what you got. If you have a Pinto, you have a Pinto. If you've got a Ferrari, you've got a Ferrari. Lower carbohydrates toward the end of the day, that's going to help the appearance. A lot of cardio will help the process also."

AHMAD HAIDAR: "Other people have nice abs, but they don't go out. You can see lines, but not big muscles. With my abs, you can see the muscles going out. This is my goal, and it's why I use weight when I'm doing crunches: to make the muscles bigger."

JOHNNIE JACKSON: "The best way to increase the definition is water manipulation. The least amount of water you have underneath your skin, the more your six-pack is going to show. The first thing is getting rid of the fat, so that's where cardio and your diet come in. Once you've done that work, then it's manipulating your water correctly so your body is continually flushing out water and not holding it."