Way down south on the male torso are two V-shaped muscular grooves that are kind of like runway markings directing incoming traffic to what we men think of as the good stuff. These lines, or more specifically, iliac furrows, are known colloquially as the Adonis belt, and a lot of women (and men) think it’s by far the sexiest thing a man can sport.
Oddly enough, weight-training coaches rarely talk about it and when they do, many of them usually get it wrong.
Part of a Roman Gladiator Breastplate
The reality is that the Adonis belt, in itself, is just an anatomical feature that appears when body fat dips into the 6 to 12% range. The grooves are just the outward edge of the inguinal ligaments and they don’t necessarily indicate fitness, strength, or even muscularity.
However, there are generic, sinewy Adonis belts caused by low body fat and then there are the kind of Adonis belts that are bordered by a prominent ridge of muscle, making them look like they were forged as part of a Roman gladiator breastplate.
It’s like the difference between a river flowing down a flat prairie and a river flowing alongside a mountain range. That kind of Roman gladiator, 3D, eye-popping Adonis belt is built by hard work and it’s definitely a sign of fitness, strength, and muscularity.
How to Accentuate the Adonis Belt
The prominence of the Adonis belt is largely determined by the thickness of the transverse abdominis (TVA) and internal oblique muscles that form a significant part of your core.
Most coaches say you can develop these muscles by variations of the plank, but that’s largely a pipedream. Just as “making a muscle” with your flexed biceps in the mirror doesn’t build big biceps, doing planks or any other essentially isometric movement isn’t going to build up that ridge of TVA muscle that’s adjacent to the iliac furrows.
Others say to do innumerable side bends and their variations, but all that’s going to do is make your waistline resemble that of a fireplug.
In truth, deadlifts and weighted carries, in conjunction with dieting, are the best way to develop a true Adonis belt, but the best way to work it directly is roll-outs, either done from a standing position or weighted (along with any number of brutal variations).
Work these rollouts or their variations into your workout and don’t give them short shrift – allocate them the same love you do to legs, chest, shoulders, or back. Do 4 to 5 sets, striving to do low-rep sets (6 to 8). When you can do them without feeling any undue discomfort to the lower back, increase resistance or graduate to a more difficult variation.
Remember that you can’t accurately judge your progress if you’re too fat. The Adonis belt, proud bastard that it is, will hide until it deems you worthy.