Intercostal muscles are one of the best features of a six pack. The intercostal muscles are located between the ribs, and their function is to help the chest cavity shrink and expand, enabling you to breathe effectively.
There are two factors that result in chiseled intercostal muscles. One is to have low body fat. To be specific, intercostal muscles will become most visible with sub 8% body fat, for a male. For women, sub 13% body fat, is ideal. Losing the fat around this area is most of the work, as these extra layers will hide all definition. The second factor is to actually build the intercostal muscles, via abs exercises. This will enable them to become thicker and more visible when low body has been attained.
As these finger-like muscles (highlighted below) are in high demand, I have constructed an abs workout, tailor-made for building killer intercostals! These are not general ab exercises that just help give you a six pack, but are specifically designed to bring out definition in the intercostal region.
Demonstration – Link
The Gate Pose
Demonstration – Link
The Gate pose is a popular exercise used in yoga which expands your lungs and contracts the intercostal muscles. Begin by positioning one of your legs stretched out to the side of you. Remember to keep the tips of your toes pointed forwards. One arm should follow the outstretched leg, whilst the other is pointed up the in the air.
If possible, try and keep your head faced in the direction of the vertical arm pointing to the sky. This position should be held for a minimum of 30 seconds, giving a super contraction of the intercostals.
Sit ups with Twists
Different variations of sit ups that involve twisting motions will all target the intercostal muscles. The key in these exercises is the twist, which should be performed slowly. A squeeze should take place whilst the intercostals are contracted at the end of the twist. The longer you can hold this squeeze, the more you will target and develop these aesthetic muscles.
These exercises should be done as a circuit with minimal rest inbetween exercises. 10-15 seconds rest is a good rule to stick to. This intensity is needed when training abs, as they have a tendency to recover quickly. Thus minimising resting time, will really help overload and fatigue the abdominals and intercostals.
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How often to train abs and intercostals?
The abdominals consist of predominantly fast-twitch fibres. This may lead to one thinking the abdominals need lots of rest, as it’s typical for fast twitch fibres to fatigue quickly and require plenty of time for recovery.
However, abs and the intercostal muscles are the exception to this rule. They are difficult to fatigue, unlike other fast-twitch fibres, as we engage our abs frequently on a daily basis. Bending, turning, twisting are just some of the movements where are abs are being worked. Training your abs and intercostals 3-5 days a week is optimal for maximum definition.
The abs are made up of fast twitch fibres, meaning they are designed for short, fast and explosive movements. The ideal rep range for training fast twitch fibres is anything from 5-10 reps. Anything over 15 reps won’t be specifically developing fast twitch fibres. However, as we know that abdominals do not fatigue like other muscles, more reps would infact be beneficial. These additional reps will increase the overload on the abs, creating a more defined and thick midsection.
Grenade Fat Burner for Killer Intercostal’s
Removing fat hiding the intercostal’s remains as one of the most difficult challenges. Taking a powerful fat burner, such as Grenade, can really help speed up the process of fat loss around your midsection.
It’s no coincident that one of the Team Grenade athlete’s, James St Leger (left), has an awesome set of intercostal muscles.