D. Haddleton, ‘It takes guts to chisel out the Abdominals’, Health and Strength (1964)


Written by D. Haddleton, of Sydney, Australia in Health and Strength Magazine, in November 1964, the following article presents an ‘old school’ method of training the abs. It features several exercises long forgotten by the modern weightlifter, making it both an invaluable piece of Iron Game history and valuable training aid. Really want to kick-start some ab development? Combine the exercises found here with some old school weight loss techniques!

Every bodybuilder wants, and trains for, proportionate development. But what part of the anatomy is often neglected? And the lack of which spoils many above average Physiques? And at the same time, if this muscular group is worked and developed to its fullest extent, can impart to the owner the mark of a tough, well-trained athlete and also give him glowing health?

In your mind’s eye you are probably thinking of chest, arms, legs ; all these, of course do go to make a tremendous physique, but the true hallmark of a champion is the abdominals. Without a chiselled mid-section many promising physiques are relegated to the ranks of “Mr. Might Have Beens.”

You may think this exaggerated but cast your mind back to the ‘Mr. Universe’ contestants you have seen, or in the many photos of top men you have studied in the H. and S. Notice how fit and hard the men with well defined abdominals look, how some builds would have looked all the better for a clean-cut mid-section.

Well, if you have come this far, you probably agree with what has been written. O.K., but how to get these sometimes elusive blocks of muscle?

First let us take into consideration your body type ; physiques can be divided into three main types : endomorph (fat man), mesomorph (athletic man), ectomorph (thin man). Of course, these are the three main divisions, and not every one can fit neatly into the above groups, but you can use those somatypes as a guide to your own type.

If you are an ‘ectomorph’ your mid-section will probably be flat with firm muscular shape, for this type abdominal training should be fairly easy.

‘Endomorphs’. If this is your type boy! have you got troubles! Your road to a muscular “washboard” is going to be paved with blood, sweat and tears. But, if you have the guts to keep right on training, the rewards you gain in health and shape will more than justify the hard work and time you put into abdominal training.

Feel you still want to try for those abdominals? Well, let’s get down to the actual training. First exercise is a real toughie.


Hanging Leg Raises: Hanging from a bar or beam, raise the legs upwards until the insteps touches the bar. Keep the legs straight and closed all through the exercise. This may be difficult at first, so for the first few workouts bent knees are permitted, but no swinging as this decreases the value of the exercise.


Pikes on Jackknife: Back-lying on the floor, keeping feet together, raise the legs, simultaneously raise the trunk forwards and touch the feet with the lands, lower to lower – this completes one rep. Feet and hands should meet above the stomach, remember trunk and legs must be raised together. This exercise will take quite a lot of practice, but when mastered should be performed at a fast pace.

The third exercise is not as complicated as it seems at first, and it will bring good results.


Variation Leg Raises: Back-lying, feet together. Raise legs four inches above the floor, open legs at that position, raise another four inches, close legs, raise another four inches, open legs, raise to a 45* angle with trunk, close legs, lower to touch floor with toes BEHIND head.

From that position, raise legs to a 45* angle, open legs, lower 4 inches, close legs, lower four inches, open legs, lower four inches, close legs, lower to floor. This completes one rep. This exercise should be performed at a moderate speed with full concentration.

On to number four. An old standby with a difference.


Sit-Ups with Twist: Back-lying, place the feet under a barbell or similar heavy object, raise the trunk with the hands clasped behind head and touch the left knee with the right elbow, lower to floor, raise and touch the right knee with left elbow. The completes one rep. For best results perform at a fast pace.

And now to round off the schedule with –


Twists with Barbell: Lift a 40 lb. barbell behind the neck, keeping the feet astride, legs straight and hips to the front, twist trunk to the right side as far as you can, without a pause twist back to the left side. This counts as one rep.

This exercise should be done fast, but do not turn it into a swing-around. You should feel the exercise all through the mid-section.

Here are the exercises again with sets and reps: –

  1. Hanging Leg Raise: 3 x 10
  2. Pikes3 x 10
  3. Variation Leg Raise: 1 x 15
  4. Twisting Sit-Ups: 1 x 50
  5. Twists with Barbell: 1 x 100

You should soon outgrow the sets and reps listed above, so make this your target : double the sets on exercises 1, 2 and 3. Double the sets and reps on exercises 4 and 5.

Try and train on this schedule at least four times a week. Remember, you will only get out of this course what you put into it.

Well, there it is, boys. Good luck in your training.

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