The Troika


In both Polish and Russian, Troika refers to 3 or trio. In particular it refers to the three horse chariot made famous by the Cossacks of old.

You need to know three aspects that make your abs visible! Like each of the three stallions that work together to win the chariot race so these three significant aspects will cause the coveted six pack condition.

#1 Fat Loss -- reveal your abs
#2 Build your ab muscles -- like biceps you build peaks to your six packs.
#3 Ab muscle tone -- the degree of involuntary flex of your abs when at rest.

Note: Any of the above aspects when pursued vigorously will create a washboard waist. Now if you combine all three to a moderate level you will have outstanding abs.

Ed showing his 50-year-old abs

Ed showing his 50-year-old abs

Let us look at real life examples. To illustrate fat loss, we can look at dancers, long distance runners, or fast growing teens. Each of these examples in many cases are extremely thin with body fat percentages around 2 or 3 percent. I remember my oldest son as a teenager. He was 6' 2" and so lean that you could see his heartbeat! With his shirt off if you looked just below his left areola you could see a pulsating area about the size of a thumb keeping beat to his heart. Although it was a great conversation item to new friends this is too lean for most people.

To illustrate developed ab muscle we can look at heavily muscled body builders, strong men or power lifters. These athletes have built tremendously muscled abs with high peaks. Most of the above have considerable body fat when compared to the first group. They may have broad waists but when they flex for a pose or for a lift, magically the abs pop out! Even the smoothest body builder with no sign of ab separation can make them appear with a flex. Now pumping iron for 10 years and gaining 50 or 100 lbs. of muscle as many of these athletes have done is impractical for most.

To illustrate ab muscle tone we can look at athletes, gymnasts, martial arts, and boxers. These athletes spent countless hours flexing their abs with medicine ball work and absorbing punches. That muscle tone acts like a shield of armor for a fighter in the match. Have you ever watched a non title fight particularly in the heavier divisions. Many of these boxers may seem smooth and some are down right fat. Although this may be the case you can almost always see two or four blocks of abs. This tone or partially flexed condition is a result of many hours of work. It is not uncommon for fighters to sequester themselves for months to train away from home and family.

So there we have the examples of three extremes. How do us regular folks adopt these three aspects of ab development? A moderate program of fat loss coupled with ab development and tone will yield fabulous results.

Here is my Troika program in capsule form:

Fat loss

3 mornings a week on an empty stomach except for a glass of water and a cup of coffee, I do three 5 minute rounds of skipping. Between the 5 minute rounds I stretch my calves and rotate my feet. After skipping I put on a dry shirt and take my dog for a 20 minute walk. After that its my six minute ab routine, half undressed and heading for the shower.

Fat loss analysis of above protocol:
#1 Highest fat burning in morning after eight hour fast.
#2 Water prevents dehydration and coffee aids in fat burning as well as acting as a stimulant for intense workout.
#3 Short intense aerobics followed by longer less intense aerobics promotes fat loss without losing muscle.

Ed performing hanging leg raises

Ed performing hanging leg raises

Ab Development
Hanging leg raises performed in front of a mirror. Ab slings hung from a chin up bar aids in concentration on abs. It is three sets of leg raises followed by three sets of knee ups. Squeeze and flex thoughout movement and concentrate on lowering slowly.

Ab Development, analysis of above protocol:
#1 Performing ab exercises that limit you rep range to under ten promotes muscle growth (read more pronounced peaks and valleys).
#2 Flexing and visual feedback from mirror guarantee total ab involvement rather than hip flexors.
#3 Slowly lowering your legs(weight) causes greater growth stimulation than raising your legs.

Muscle tone
During the 3 days of ab work and aerobics I incorporate 3 forty five seconds of ab flexing in front of a mirror. These are done afternoon, evening or just before bed. The 45 second ab flexing looks like a posing routine for abs. Looking in the mirror as I flex, I try to show as much separation in my abs by twisting and flexing hard.

Ab Muscle tone, analysis of above protocol:
#1 Twice a day ab training is most effective for growth and recovery.
#2 Teaching your ab muscles to flex for 45 seconds develops the abs automatic responses to other body moves.
#3 Three 45 second intense ab squeezes stimulate and develop more ab muscle tone then 100 crunches.

There you have it. Efficient targeted routine to show off your abs.