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A six-pack and cut-to-ribbons abdomen is great to possess, but hard to obtain. Hanging leg raises will work this area with sufficient intensity to make your lower abs and hip flexors burn.

When you train your abdominals, you should always choose exercises that force the muscle fibers to shorten under tension. Stay away from the abdominal exercises that force you to stretch (usually by bending backward) because this lengthens the abdominal fibers under resistance. Longer abdominal muscle fibers can give the appearance of a larger (rounded) abdomen when relaxed, not a flat, tight abdomen and that’s the last thing you want to get from your hard training. Straight leg raises from a chinning bar are among those exercises that will shorten and optimize contractions of the lower abdomen and hip flexors. However, they’ll also work the sides and most of the anterior abdominal wall very intensely.

Muscles Used

The rectus abdominis muscle is made of a series of short fibers stacked vertically end-to-end. The linea alba is a thin tendon-like line between the left and right halves of the rectus abdominis of the anterior abdominal wall. Typically, there are three or sometimes four rows of horizontally placed tendons running perpendicular to the linea alba across the rectus abdominis. These make the “blocks” on the abdominal wall. The fibers of the rectus abdominis are short, and they extend from one horizontal tendinous insertion to the next. When the rectus abdominis is tensed, the short fibers bulge between the tendinous grooves, almost like small blocks. This gives your abs the “six-pack” look. The blocks usually end just below the umbilicus (belly button) and then the fibers lay like a flat sheet all the way to their attachment at the pelvic bones. If both right and left halves of this muscle contract, the thighs are flexed forward, which is the case in the hanging leg raise exercise (assuming the pelvis is free to move).

The rectus abdominis has a taper to it, so it’s three times as wide at the top (superiorly) as it is at the bottom (inferiorly). Thus, the upper portions of this muscle do roughly three times more work than the lower portion, which makes it particularly tough to target the lower abdominals.

The lower and posterior part of the abdomen includes the iliopsoas muscle. This muscle is really a collaboration between two muscles, the psoas major and the iliacus muscles. The psoas major is a long, thick muscle positioned beside the thoracic and lumbar vertebral column. The iliacus muscle is a large triangular muscle that sits over the inner surfaces of the iliac bones of the hip. Part of it also lies along the lateral side of the psoas major. The fibers of the iliacus and psoas major attach to a single tendon that connects to a small bump near the head of the femur bone (the bone of the thigh) called the lesser trochanter. The psoas major and iliacus function as a single muscle (hence the name “iliopsoas” muscle). The iliopsoas is the most powerful flexor of the thigh at the hip joint and it’s therefore very active during hanging leg raises.

The external oblique runs from the lower ribs toward the center of your abdomen, where it unites with other slips of muscle fibers to form a flat, fan-shaped muscle. It attaches to the iliac bones of the pelvis and hip structure and also the linea alba. When both left and right sides of the external oblique muscles work together they flex the trunk and move the head toward the feet. When one side contracts, the body twists to that side.

The internal oblique muscle sits just deep to the external oblique muscle. It stretches from the lower back and the iliac bone of the hip to the lowest three or four ribs. Similar to the external oblique muscle, if both left and right portions contract together, the internal oblique flexes the trunk at the waist and moves the head toward the feet. However, if one side contracts it twists to the opposite side.

Hanging Leg Raises

The fibers of the lower abs shorten very little in most exercises and because the rectus abdominis is weaker than other trunk muscles, many other muscles assist it. Nevertheless, hanging leg raises are reasonably good at activating the lower regions of the rectus abdominis, although the iliopsoas muscle is still very much active in this exercise.

1. A straight chinning bar works great for this exercise. You will hang from the bar during the exercise. However, if you find that your grip strength fails before your abdominals are ready to give up, you may want to invest in arm straps that attach to the chin bar to eliminate this problem.

2. Begin with your legs hanging straight down from your waist to the floor. Keep your knees locked (almost completely straight) and slowly raise your legs (hip flexion). Don’t swing, but use a controlled pulling of your hip flexors to raise your legs.

3. Raise your feet as high toward your head as possible, taking care not to bend your knees. Your hip angle (i.e., the angle between your abdomen and thighs) should be 90 degrees or less at the top. Try to curl your pelvis forward to activate the rest of the abdominal wall.

4. Hold your legs in the highest position possible for two to three seconds then slowly lower them to a straight position. Ensure that you don’t swing your legs past a position that would be vertical to your upper body. Such activity could cause excessive extension of the lower back. Furthermore, you would cheat yourself out of a full effort on the next repetition, since the pendulum-like action assists you in getting the legs up for the next contraction. On top of that, the excessive extension could stretch the fibers of the abdominal wall and this isn’t the desired effect of this exercise. The swinging action is harder to control if you’re hanging from a chinning bar as opposed to a leg raise station with a padded back to minimize your body movements, so take extra care when doing this version of the exercise.

5. Exhale during the upward movement and inhale as the legs descend. Avoid holding your breath during the exercise. Holding your breath will be easier because this increases your intra-abdominal pressure (and arc of the rectus abdominis) and stretches the abdominal fibers, but doesn’t allow the muscle fibers to shorten as completely as they should. If the fibers of the abdominal wall are stretched because you hold your breath as you exercise, the fibers will tend to bulge when the abdomen relaxes (which will give you almost a bloated look – and you definitely don’t want that!).

If you find that the straight leg raise is too hard, you can do the exercise with bent knees. After positioning yourself on the chin bar (with your knees straight and your toes pointing toward the floor) bend at the hips (hip flexion) and bend the knees. Try to lift the bent knees as high as possible toward your chest. Hold the top position for a count of two to three then lower the legs toward the floor and straighten the knees as your legs are dropping. The torque component at the hip is much less with the bent knees; this makes the exercise doable for almost everyone. You may need to start with the hanging knee-up version, then progress to the straight leg raise after you’ve built a little more strength into your abdominal and iliopsoas muscles.

In the hanging leg (or knee) raise, the spine is unloaded and not stressed. This makes the hanging leg raise a much better exercise than lying leg raises, which create huge torques through the lumbar discs.To add some variety to the exercise, while also tightening both the internal and external oblique muscles, you can twist the legs to the right on the first repetition as you raise your thighs, then twist the legs to the left on the next repetition. Don’t twist too quickly or this will generate unwanted torques across the lumbar vertebrae.

It’s not possible to selectively recruit the lower fibers of the abdomen without also activating other abdominal fibers and muscles. But no matter what exercise you choose, it’s important to recognize that no exercise will perfectly carve deep ridges across your abdomen if it’s buried in fat. The best strategy for improving abdominal shape and definition starts in the kitchen with a clean diet; it also wise to include some cardio at the end of your routine such as 20 to 30 minutes of treadmill walking, stationary cycling, jogging, etc. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated, but cardio can increase your metabolic rate both during and after your training. The best combination is to engage in cardio to utilize the fat calories as an energy source and use hanging leg raises to tighten and strengthen your lower abdomen. With persistence and a few months of hanging leg raises under your belt, coupled with intelligent diet and aerobics, your lower abs will be tighter, stronger and sliced to ribbons.


1. Arokoski JP, Valta T, Airaksinen O, and Kankaanpaa M. Back and abdominal muscle function during stabilization exercises. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 82: 1089-1098, 2001.

2. 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.

3. Lee RY and Munn J. Passive moment about the hip in straight leg raising. Clin Biomech, (Bristol, Avon) 15: 330-334, 2000.

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

5. Norris CM. Abdominal muscle training in sport. Br J Sports Med, 27: 19-27, 1993.

6. Robinson M, Lees A and Barton G. An electromyographic investigation of abdominal exercises and the effects of fatigue. Ergonomics, 48: 1604-1612, 2005.

7. Suleiman S and Johnston DE. The abdominal wall: an overlooked source of pain. Am Fam Physician, 64: 431-438, 2001.

8. Urquhart DM, Hodges PW, Allen TJ and Story IH. Abdominal muscle recruitment during a range of voluntary exercises. Man Ther, 10: 144-153, 2005.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Get Sliced Abs and a Six-Pack
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Published Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2021 19:04:01 +0000

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Mens Health

Failures in Business: The Unseen Stepping Stones to Success

Equally significant is the need for businesses to remain vigilant about broader shifts in both domestic and global markets. Macro factors, whether they’re economic trends, geopolitical events, or emerging global challenges, can have profound ripple effects, impacting even the most niche industries. By staying abreast of these larger market dynamics, businesses can better anticipate risks, adapt to challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities. In an ever-globalizing world, the ability to navigate both the nuances of one’s immediate market and the broader global shifts is what separates thriving enterprises from those that falter.

TACTICAL Takeaway: Stay sharp and monitor your industry’s trends. When things shift, being ahead in understanding consumer habits offers you the flexibility to adjust and succeed. Things can change rapidly and the sooner you have insight into consumer behavior changes, the more opportunities you have to pivot.


Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The sports nutrition industry is an interesting, fast-paced vertical where what’s old can quickly become new again but also what worked yesterday likely won’t work tomorrow.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s spot-on. Take creatine as an example. It hit the shelves in the early 1990s and quickly became a hit. Yet, a decade later, its demand had waned. Jump another decade to today, and it’s back more popular than ever.

TACTICAL Takeaway: The key for businesses is knowing when to go all-in on a product and when to ease off, as it’s the ever-changing consumer market that truly drives demand.

Never Rest On Your Laurels

Just because something “has always worked” doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to work (or continue to work as efficiently).

In the dynamic world of business, the saying “never rest on your laurels” holds more truth than ever. What propelled a company to success yesterday might not necessarily be the formula for its tomorrow’s success. Market demands, technological innovations, and consumer preferences are in a perpetual state of evolution. While a particular strategy or product might have been a game-changer at one point, there’s no guarantee that it will remain relevant or effective in the future. This inherent unpredictability underscores the need for adaptability and forward-thinking in any business endeavor.

This reality pushes companies to be proactive, always forecasting and adjusting to the next potential shift. Relying solely on past successes can lull businesses into complacency, risking obsolescence in the face of changing tides.

TACTICAL Takeaway: To remain competitive and relevant, businesses need to cultivate a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and agility. In essence, the past can inform and guide, but it’s the vision and readiness for the future that will determine enduring success.

Embracing The Journey

To any entrepreneur reading this: the road to success is rarely a straight one. At times, it may seem like every decision leads to a dead end. But remember, every misstep is an opportunity to learn, grow, and pivot.

The trials you face in business are not meant to discourage you. Instead, they are meant to shape you, refine your vision, and improve your strategy. As the age-old adage goes, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” It’s the challenges that will arm you with the experience and resilience necessary for long-term success.

So, the next time you face a setback, remember that your next big success could be just around the corner. Embrace failure as a part of the process, learn from your mistakes, and continue pushing forward with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. With so much time spent working and navigating challenges, it’s essential to find joy and have fun along the way.


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Negativity Is a Losing Mindset

By Marc Lobliner


‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’

I coach my son’s U11 football team. I am just the line coach, but the dudes who coach with me are also in the same mindset as I am.

Positivity wins.

Let’s start off with last weekend’s game.

It’s 0-0, the opening kickoff is a short one and we fall on it.

You can hear our coaches getting our kids fired up and getting the offense ready for play. POSITIVE statements. A lot of “Let’s Go!” and energy.

On the other sideline, you hear the coaches angrily yelling at their players for the execution of the kick.

First play from scrimmage, our line makes every block and opens the outside for our running back to score.

You hear their coaches furiously yelling as we celebrate.

We celebrated and our fullback punched in the extra point.

After the kickoff, our defense held them to four and out. We got the ball again, touchdown. Extra point good.

14-0 in two offensive plays.s

Their coaches were still mad. Angry. Yelling.

We smiled, encouraged our kids, and ended up with a 42-0 mercy-rule win.

Our players are awesome, but not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest.

It’s all about culture and what you’re playing for.

We demand a lot of our athletes. Learn your plays, DO YOUR JOB, and we will win.

Every Tuesday after we win, I buy my linemen doughnuts and give them to everyone, telling them that a random lineman (changes weekly) said everyone deserves doughnuts. We don’t punish every mistake with extra running and up-downs. We focus on what we do RIGHT, and not what we do wrong.

The other game one of my linemen got called for a hold. He came off the field expecting to be scolded. I put my arm around him and said, “What happened?” He explained it and then I said, “You’re better than that guy, you don’t need to hold. Show the world how dominant you are!” He didn’t get one call the rest of the game and crushed it.

This is also my management style at work. Managers are usually garbage. You can do 1,000 things right and you mess up once and your manager attacks you.

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Employees typically respond better to positivity, and numerous studies have found that positive reinforcement and a positive work environment can significantly improve employee motivation, performance, and well-being. Here are some reasons why, supported by various studies:

Increased Productivity: According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. The research shows that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.

Better Decision-Making Abilities: Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center found that individuals who were induced to feel positive emotions were better at problem-solving and making decisions than those in a neutral state.

Boosts Creativity: Positive emotions widen attention and allow people to think more broadly and openly. This is discussed in the “broaden-and-build theory” by Barbara Fredrickson, which suggests that positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoires.

Enhanced Team Collaboration: A study from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that teams that communicate effectively, with members actively reaching out and connecting with all other team members, were more successful. Positive interactions contribute to this dynamic.

Reduced Employee Turnover: According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a positive work environment and culture encourages employees to stay longer in their jobs, thus reducing turnover rates. This is KEY at where our staff has mostly been there for 5+ years!

Better Health & Well-being: A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that positive work environments and low job stress are linked to better health outcomes for employees, which in turn can lead to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Increased Engagement: According to Gallup, workers who are engaged and have high well-being are more likely to be attached to their organizations and are more productive.

Enhanced Learning & Flexibility: Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that positive emotions can facilitate adaptive thinking and flexibility in cognitive processing. This helps employees adapt to new situations and learn more effectively.

Higher Levels of Satisfaction: A study by BrightHR found that happiness is a key indicator of job satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction with their jobs than those who report low levels of happiness.

Creates a Positive Feedback Loop: A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that experiencing positive emotions leads to higher levels of resilience, which in turn leads to increased positive emotions. This positive feedback loop has a myriad of beneficial effects in the workplace.

How about parenting?

Same thing. PRAISE YOUR CHILD! Make sure they know you love them. While bad behavior should be addressed, be sure to also reward good behavior. Kid had a good day at school? Get him ice cream! Tell him you love him. Say you’re proud of him.

As my mother said, “You catch more flies with honey than with crap.”

And one can’t deny the lifelong impact of a good coach. As the sign in the office says, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Be positive and be a winner!

556494785 img 1682 2

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Instagram @marclobliner

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Panatta Super Rowing Page 1

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