Ancient Greeks viewed visible abs as a symbol of health, strength, and physical fitness. Statues are complete with perfect six-packs. In today’s Internet culture, having a great torso still evokes the same symbol of prestige.
As awesome as having a six-pack is, building one is not easy. If you’ve been crunching away after every workout and are still not seeing results, you’re probably committing one or more of these mistakes.
Before getting into this – DO NOT FOCUS ON ABS – Frankly your abdominal muscles should be your last focus, build the foundation, then somewhere down the line your abs can be a concern. But if you are yet to have the mass you want, keep building before you work on sculpting. ANYWAY.
Strong abs aren’t the most important component of a visible six-pack; low body fat is. If you have too much subcutaneous body fat covering your abdominal area, then no matter how many hours of crunches or leg raises you do, you won’t be able to see a damn thing.
The most effective action toward achieving visible abs is to sort out your nutrition. When it comes to your abs, training can only get you so far. You need a smart nutrition plan to lower your body fat percentage and uncover your abs.
Most people see abs as the little hard boxes in the middle of their torso, but the muscle system is actually far more complex. Your abdominal wall is built of the rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques that run along the sides of your rectus abdominus, and the transverse abdominus which lies beneath the internal oblique. I also like to include the serratus anterior.
These muscles help the torso flex, extend, and rotate. Most importantly, the muscles also help the torso stay stable against flexion, extension, and rotation. If you only train them to flex by doing endless crunches, you won’t activate each of the muscles in ways in which they can grow. Like any other muscle in the body, the abdominals need to be trained from various angles and dimensions. A focus on heavy/compound lifts will also work these muscles so account for this in your routine.
Lately, there has been this weird hype that your abs need to be trained with a ridiculously high amounts of reps. Some people go crazy and do more than 500 reps in a workout. If you are training your abs for a high-endurance, abdominal-specific sport, then rep away. To get your abs to grow, however, you need to stimulate them just like any other muscle group in your body, Hypertrophy concepts are not limited to your main routine.
Start training your abs with some weight so they can develop like your other muscle groups, and vary the rep ranges each time you train them. For instance, in one workout, perform bodyweight exercises with a rep range of 15-30; during your next abdominal training day, lower the rep range to 8-12 and use a heavier resistance by adding a plate to your floor-based moves or knocking out some cable crunches. Increase the difficulty as you progress. AKA – Progressive Overload.
Let me be clear: You cannot lose body fat in specific areas of your body by training that body part more often. If someone ever tells you that you’ll lose your gut by performing abdominal exercises, avoid taking on any further information – and slap the moron – explain to him or her that it’s impossible to control where body fat comes off your body. The only way to strip the fat from your abs is by slowly and gradually burning it off from your entire body through cardio, nutrition, and resistance training (you will not lose fat/weight without a calorie deficit, its that simple).
Unfortunately, abdominal fat is usually the last bit to come off and the first to come back, genetics are a bitch. The tenacity with which abdominal fat wants to cling to your belly can make dieting and exercise discouraging. The key is consistency. It may take months to uncover your abs, but if you stick to being smart in the kitchen, you’ll eventually see results.
5 YOU TRAIN ABS EVERYDAY
This is a touchy subject because many fitness and physique athletes do train their abs every day at the end of their workouts. However, they’ve been building their abs for years, and what works for fitness professionals may not always be the best approach for you.
Because you actually activate your abs doing many other exercises like squats, deadlifts, military presses, etc, it’s best to give your core a break during the week. Even though you might not be directly training your abs, they still get stimulation during your compound lifts.
Many people go through crash diets and pre-contest nutrition plans in order for their abs to show. However, once they’re done with their contest season or diet, they start eating junk food, stop performing cardio, and say goodbye to their six-packs. Say goodbye to crash diets, “dirty bulking,” and nutritional inconsistency instead.
You need to make fitness a lifestyle. If you are consist with nutrition and stay intense in the gym, you’ll have abs for much longer than a few weeks. Being lean year-round even if it’s not contest season!
Aspire to inspire.