One of the lesser known figures from the golden age of bodybuilding, Chuck Sipes was nevertheless one of the most influential men in the iron game during the 1960s and ’70s. Known for his chiseled physique and intense training methods, Chuck would regularly engage in seemingly tortuous activities in the pursuit of muscle. Thankfully for us however, his advice on abdominal training was relatively mild by his standards, though no less effective. Written circa 1968, the below ab routine will undoubtedly be of use to novice and veteran alike.
I’ve worked out in many gyms throughout the country and so have had the opportunity to observe the training habits of a great number of bodybuilders and athletes. From all this one thing stands out most in my mind — out of all the equipment that is available in these gyms, none is more ignored than the abdominal board.
But the sad part is that fellows who ignore this underestimated piece of training equipment are those who can least afford to . . . their abdominals leave a lot to be desired. They are the fellows who wear out the barbells and dumbbells doing curls and presses and lateral raises but who give little or no attention to their abs. To them, the slant board hardly exists — it’s part of the gym scenery — to be looked at but not used.
If they only realized what a sharply-defined set of abdominals can do for them, they wouldn’t walk by that slant board.
Aside from appearance’s sake, a clean-cut, ruggedly-defined set of abs is an indication that a lifter is in top physical condition. Behind the abdominals are housed some of the most vital organs in your body: stomach, liver, intestines, etc., and the stronger your abdominal walls, the better-protected are these organs against injuries that can occur. Exercise is the way to strengthen these walls.
What kind of shape are your abs in? A quick, ultra-simple way to find out is this: stand in front of a mirror stripped to the waist. Now, breathe out and forcibly tense your midsection. If your abs stand out clear and rock-like, they are in good condition. If they look smooth or have just a faint hint of ridges, then you need plenty of work on them and should read the instructions in this article carefully.
Why should you use the abdominal board to develop your midsection? Because of its “slantiblitly” . . . by adjusting the board to various heights you give the abs a complete workout and develop them to the fullest — in the shortest amount of time, too. It’s a piece of equipment I use regularly in my own workouts because I’ve found that it gives me the best and fastest results — particularly when I’m training for a contest and have little time to spare. It’s amazing how quickly intercellular fat melts off my midsection when I use the slant board to perform situps, twists, leg raises and other ab exercises. I start with the board adjusted to its lowest level and then work up to the point where I’m doing the movements at its highest level. Every top bodybuilder I know who has sensational abs uses the ab board regularly in his workouts.
You might be under the impression that a good slant board costs a great deal of money but nothing is further from the truth. The Weider Research Clinic realized some time ago that the pocketbook of many lifters is limited — so they developed a board that is strong, sturdy and on a par with the more expensive professional equipment found in gyms . . . and they priced it so that everyone can afford one. The ABDOMINAL BOARD is completely adjustable so that you can put a real “slant” in your midsection training and give your abs full “steel-plated” toughness. It’s made exclusively for home use: lightweight and fits into any clothes closet. For more details of the ABDOMINAL BOARD, prices, comfort features, construction, etc., see the full page ads in this magazine.
The ab board exercises about to follow should be done at a rapid pace with high repetitions. In this way, you will start the blood circulating to long-neglected muscles and begin the process of breaking down and carrying away unwanted fat — plus building classically-cut abs. Try these exercises on the ABDOMINAL BOARD and watch your midsection firm up and muscle up:
Exercise 1 – Situps:
This is the “old standby” and still the best for developing the abdominals of the upper midsection. Lie on abdominal board on your back with feet held under the strap. Place your hands behind head, inhale and raise yourself to sitting position, endeavoring to touch your knees with your forehead. Exhale and return to original position. Start with abdominal board set at its lowest adjustment. If you still find it too tough to do, bend your knees a little. Do 3 sets of from 15 to 25 reps. As you become stronger and the situps become easier, increase the incline of the board. You can hold a dumbbell or barbell across your chest after 3 sets of 25 reps at the highest incline are easy.
Exercise 2 – Leg Raises:
Lie on abdominal board with your head resting on the higher end of it. Now, with knees locked and hands held on the abdominal board bar (behind your head), raise your feet up and back as far as you can go. Lower to starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 15 to 25 reps. Inhale deeply as you bring your legs up and exhale as you lower them. This exercise works the lower part of your midsection and can help build the protective toughness needed to avoid hernias. Later, as you find this movement becoming easier, strap Iron Boots or weight plates to your feet for greater resistance.
Exercise 3 – Knee Kick to Chest:
Remain in the same position as above but place hands on side of board. Now, inhale deeply and bring in knees as close to your chest as possible. Then kick out until legs are straight and repeat for 3 sets of from 15 to 20 reps. Increase incline of board as you become stronger and later add resistance with Iron Boots or plates.
Exercise 4 – Leg Scissors:
Still in same position as above, raise one leg to almost the halfway point. Lower and repeat with the other leg. Repeat both legs alternately for 3 sets of 20 reps, each leg. Keep a rapid pace. This is another excellent exercise for working the lower abdomen.
Exercise 5 – Twisting Situps:
You do this one the same as the Situps except that at the halfway mark, you twist your body to one side, then lower your body and with the next repetition change to the other side. This variation of the situp movement brings the side muscles of the waist into play and will help burn the fat off if performed regularly at each workout. Do 3 sets of 15 to 25 reps. Again, if you find the exercise becomes easy, increase the incline of the slant board.
When you do the abdominal board exercises just described, you can make them even more effective and faster-working by following these tips:
1.) Wear a sweatshirt and sweat pants. If not available then an old pair of heavy pants and a heavy sweater will do just as well. This will help you to quickly work up a good sweat and speed up the “fat melting” process.
2.) Wear a heat belt around your waist. Or better still, get a pair of SWEAT-TANK trunks — they work great for this purpose. As you do your exercises, the pressure created by the trunks will cause your abdominal muscles to sweat and help “melt” off excess fat. Many Mr. America, Mr. Universe winners use this heat belt and you can plainly see by their photos how well they work.
3.) Don’t pause too long between exercises. Rest just long enough to catch your breath — then go right into the next ab exercise. This will keep your midsection from getting cold and keep the blood circulating to carry away the globules of fat from your tissues.
4.) If you want fast results in hardening up your midsection, do two exercises (one for the upper abs and one for the lower) in the morning and the other three in the evening. Do them three to five times weekly.
5.) If you abs are in good condition you can keep them that way by doing at least two of the exercises in every workout. Vary the exercises with every session: do exercises #1 and #3 one day, #2 and #4 the next day, and #3 and #5 on the third day. Repeat the process with your next workout.
6.) Eat a well-balanced diet of meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. Avoid high-calorie foods such as bread, cake, candy, macaroni products and all foods containing white flour and white sugar. High-calorie foods add fat to your waistline and will make your abdominal training a whole lot tougher than it should be.
Before ending this article, I want to tell you about the long-lasting benefits of abdominal exercise — particularly its one great benefit of retaining youth.
Perhaps the most vivid, lasting proof of the youth-preserving value of abdominal training if the great Dave Asnis. During the 1930’s and early 1940’s Dave was a continual winner of “Best Abdominals” awards — there were few men around who could match his fantastic midsection development. Today, at age 56, Dave hardly shows his years — he has the physique of a man about 20 years younger. His abdominal muscles are still razor-sharp in definition and hard as rocks, too. If he were to enter a contest now for “Best Abs” there is no doubt he could win over many top bodybuilders. Dave has never stopped his midsection training and he is a great fan of the abdominal board. It shows in the sensational results he’s achieved.
Other greats of the bodybuilding world who have retained their youth through persistent abdominal board training are: Vince Gironda, Armand Tanny, Irvin Koszewski and George Eiferman, to name a few.
Yes, there are many good and important reasons for making abdominal board training a regular part of your workouts — and your life. Also, because the ABDOMINAL BOARD has been priced so low, there’s no reason why you can’t get one for your home gym. Look into it today and put the proper “slant” on your midsection training!
For a biography of Sipes and his training methods see here.
For more old school ab training routines you may be interested in another one of our 1960s posts. Found here.