The abdomen contains the muscles that most beginners struggle with because they take a long time to develop and need a low level of body fat to be seen. The abdominal muscle group consists of three main muscles:

1. Rectus abdominis – commonly known as the abs, this is a large flat muscle wall that runs from the lower chest to the pubic bone.

2. Obliquus abdominis – commonly known as the obliques, this muscle runs diagonally along the side of the mid-section from the lower ribcage to the pubic area. The internal obliques lie underneath the external obliques.

3. Transversus abdominis – this is a thin strip of muscle that runs horizontally across the abdomen.

You can target these muscles effectively by performing the following exercises:

1. Crunches – 3 sets of 15-20 reps. This exercise will work the upper abs.

2. Pelvic tilts – 3 sets of 15-20 reps.This exercise will target the lower portion of the abdomen below the navel.

3. Side bends – 3 sets of 15-20 reps. This exercise will work the obliques.

As with all exercises you need to take care in scheduling specific body parts. To begin with you should incorporate your abdominal exercises into a program similar to the one suggested below:

Day 1: Biceps, Back, Abs

Day 2: Hamstrings, Shoulders, Abs

Day 3: Quads, Forearms, Calves

Day 4: Triceps, Chest, Abs

For the first couple of weeks complete one set but then add one set each week to a maximum of three. At the end of three months you will be ready to move on to more intensive intermediate level exercises.

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