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Your diet has a lot to do with your ability to display a ripped abdominal wall. However, you must also kick up your cardio to eliminate fat stores in that area. And when it comes to training, select three good abdominal exercises; one that emphasizes your upper abdomen, one for the lower area of your abdominal wall and one that provides constant tension on both upper and lower regions and the sides of your abdomen. Seated knee-ins accomplish the last goal very nicely. To sharpen your abs, you need exercises that tighten and not stretch your entire abdominal wall. Many exercises will emphasize the superior (upper) or inferior (lower) parts of your abdominal wall, and a few target the lower areas of your abdomen, but few exercises provide the constant tension that activates both the superior and inferior parts of your abdominal musculature. Seated knee-ins activate the sides, upper and lower portions of your abdominal wall very effectively. If your body fat levels are not too high, seated knee-ins will chisel your abs to a razor sharp condition in a short time.

Structure and Function

The rectus abdominis is a long, strap-like muscle. It’s the primary vertical muscle of the anterior abdominal wall. It’s separated vertically in the middle by the linea alba, so the abdominal wall appears to have a left and right half. The linea alba is a tendinous sheet that’s about one-half an inch wide that stretches from the xiphoid process on the inferior border of the sternum (sternum = breast bone) to the pubic bone in the pelvis. The rectus abdominis begins on the pubic bone and pubic crest, which is the center of the pelvic bones of the hip girdle. This muscle inserts into the xiphoid process at the base of the sternum and some fibers terminate on the cartilages of the fifth to seventh ribs (near the sternum).

The rectus abdominis has tendinous intersections (connective tissue) that create the grooves when it’s tensed. Although there is some genetic variability in this “six-pack” look, usually there are three sets or rows of these tendinous intersections. The muscle fibers of the rectus are actually quite short compared to some muscles (like the biceps) and they run almost entirely vertical from one small tendinous line to the next. Therefore, when the rectus abdominis is tensed, the short fibers bulge between the tendinous grooves, almost like small ropes. The thicker the muscle fibers, the greater their rounded rope-like appearance in each block of tissue. When both right and left halves of this muscle contract simultaneously, the trunk is flexed forward so the head and chest move closer to the hips and legs (assuming a fixed pelvis).

The external oblique is the largest and most superficial of the three flat abdominal muscles. It begins along the lower half of the ribs by small bundles of muscle fibers. The muscle fibers run from lateral to medial, the same direction your fingers would point if you put your hands in your pockets. This muscle inserts into the pubic and iliac bones of the pelvis and also the linea alba. When both left and rights sides of the external oblique muscles contract, they flex the trunk so the head will move toward the feet. If only one side contracts, the trunk will flex toward the opposite side. For example, if only the right side contracts, the external oblique will twist the trunk and shoulders toward the left side of the body.

The internal oblique is deep to the external oblique muscle and it’s therefore not visible. It begins from a thick connective tissue sheath located in the lower back, called the thoracolumbar fascia, and also from the iliac bone of the hip. Its fibers run at right angles to the external oblique muscle, fanning out from their origins and running toward the head (superiorly). The internal oblique inserts into the lowest three or four ribs, where they become continuous with the internal intercostal muscles (respiratory muscles of the rib cage). In contrast to the function of the external oblique, the internal oblique will twist the body toward the right if only the right side contracts, and toward the left if only the left side of this muscle contracts. However, similar to the external oblique muscle, the internal oblique will flex the trunk at the waist and move the head toward the feet, if both left and right portions of the internal oblique contract together.

Seated Knee-Ins

This exercise should not be confused with straight leg raises, which primarily activate the lower regions of the abdomen. Seated knee-ins activate the upper regions and a pelvic lift ensures that the lower part of the abdomen is also activated effectively. Furthermore, muscle tension is maintained in both superior and inferior regions of the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles from the beginning to the end of each set in seated knee-ins.

1. Select a flat exercise bench. Turn you body sideways so that your legs are 90 degrees to the long axis of the bench on which you are seated. 

2. Grab the edge of the bench behind your back with both hands for support.

3. Lean back on the bench just slightly. Put both feet together and lift them from the floor. Raise your legs and thighs until they are parallel to the floor.

4. Bring your knees toward your chest. Tense your abdomen and exhale as your knees approach your chest. This is like a version of an abdominal crunch. Hold this position for a count of two. The upper part of the knee-ins will also induce a pelvic tilt that will ensure activation of your lower abdominals. If your knees can touch your chest, you can separate your legs on the way up toward your chest, so that each knee passes to either side of your rib cage.

5. Extend your knees and straighten your legs to full extension as you inhale. Stop only momentarily, then flex your knees again and bring them toward your chest.

6. Try to complete five sets of 50 repetitions before ending the set. Rest for 45 seconds, then start your next set. You should be able to work up to five sets. When five sets becomes too easy, strap on some medium weight ankle weights to add resistance for additional sets.

Training Tips

Since you don’t need any special equipment, you can do a few sets of these just about anywhere, even in your bedroom before turning in for the night.

There are several technique errors you should avoid. First, it’s important not to lower your legs below parallel to the floor. Likewise, if your legs are lifted more than five degrees above parallel to the floor, the resistance will be easier, but the activation of the lower abdominals will be reduced significantly. Also, lowering too far will stretch the rectus abdominis and enlarge this muscle, and who wants to have a bigger and thicker abdomen? If the fibers of the abdomen are stretched excessively, the stomach will take on a rounded and almost bloated, protruding look when relaxed. Thirdly, if you lift your legs with your knees locked out straight (a seated leg raise), this will strongly activate your iliopsoas muscle and this will reduce the activation of the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles. This is because the iliopsoas, a deep abdominal muscle, is one of the strongest flexors of the lumbar region.

If you want to increase activation of your oblique muscles, twist your legs to the left (twist slightly from your hips) on one repetition and to the right on the next repetition when you’re bringing your knees toward your chest. It’s a good idea to eliminate holding your breath at any point during the exercise, since this increases the intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the abdominal fibers from shortening as much. Rather, exhale as your knees are coming toward your chest, and inhale as your legs are extended.

Few abdominal exercises allow such a constant tension throughout your entire abdominal wall as does seated knee-ins. You should achieve a very intense continual muscle burn throughout much of the exercise, but you must persist through the burn to achieve ultimate abdominal success. This selective fiber activation and shortening will be the keys to producing razor-sharp abs.


Andersson EA, Ma Z and Thorstensson A. Relative EMG levels in training exercises for abdominal and hip flexor muscles. Scand J Rehabil Med, 30: 175-183, 1998.

Borodulin K, Laatikainen T, Lahti-Koski M, Lakka TA, Laukkanen R, Sarna S and Jousilahti P. Associations between estimated aerobic fitness and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with different levels of abdominal obesity. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil, 12: 126-131, 2005.

Drysdale CL, Earl JE and Hertel J. Surface Electromyographic Activity of the Abdominal Muscles During Pelvic-Tilt and Abdominal-Hollowing Exercises. J Athl Train, 39: 32-36, 2004.

Hildenbrand K and Noble L. Abdominal Muscle Activity While Performing Trunk-Flexion Exercises Using the Ab Roller, ABslide, FitBall, and Conventionally Performed Trunk Curls. J Athl Train, 39: 37-43, 2004.

Lehman, G. J., McGill, S. M. (2001) Quantification of the differences in electromyographic activity magnitude between the upper and lower portions of the rectus abdominis muscle during selected trunk exercises. Phys Ther, 81, 1096-1101

Moore KL, and Daley AF. Cinically Oriented Anatomy. Lippincott Williams & Williams, Baltimore, 4th Edition pp. 1999. 178-187.

Sternlicht E, Rugg SG, Bernstein MD and Armstrong SD. Electromyographical analysis and comparison of selected abdominal training devices with a traditional crunch. J Strength Cond Res, 19: 157-162, 2005.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Get Six-Pack Abs With Seated Knee-Ins
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Published Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2022 18:22:52 +0000

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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs



Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.

Active Muscles in Leg Extensions

The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1

Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.

The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.

The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.

Leg Extensions

The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.

1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.

2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.

3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).

4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.

5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.

6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.

7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.

8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.

The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6

Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.

This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.

GettyImages 674163248 600


1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.

2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.

3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.

4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.

5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.

6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.

7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.

8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.

9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs
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Published Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2022 19:11:16 +0000

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PRIMAL Preworkout



Training hard and intensely is the only way to train – you can’t step into the gym in low gear or
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A Better Pump

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30 minutes prior to training, consume 2 rounded scoops (20.3g) with 8-12 oz of water or your
favorite beverage. Users that are sensitive to stimulants should start off with 1 rounded scoop
(10.1g) to assess tolerance.

PRIMAL Preworkout

• Enhances energy and endurance†
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• Contains AstraGin ® to support nutrient uptake†
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• Absorption and nutrient enhancers
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PRIMAL is a pre-workout that will power your performance and enable you to crush it every time you train.

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†These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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By: Team FitRx
Title: PRIMAL Preworkout
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Published Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 16:51:41 +0000

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