I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question. The fact of the matter is, most people fail to understand just how to go about training their abdominals and how to successfully obtain the desired 6 pack look. Simply jumping on the nearest ab machine or yoga ball will not cover all of the bases when it comes to correct technique on how to approach the training of this extremely popular muscle group.
Your Rectus Abdominus extends from the costal cartilages near your sternum all the way down to the groin area. The center of your abdominals are separated by a thin band called the linea alba. It is important to see just how large of a muscle this really is, which will help in exercise selection later on down the road.
“So how come I don’t have a six pack when I do abs at least three days a week?” This is a popular question so let me put to rest this common myth that has surrounded the fitness industry for quite some time now: Spot training or spot reducing do NOT work when it comes to burning body fat. 75% of the reason why you don’t see those eye-catching abs is due to the stubborn fat layer that covers them! Simply training your abdominals consistently is not enough.
There are three important factors that contribute to abdominal definition.
The single most important part of building a strong, defined midsection will ALWAYS be your diet. The way you eat will reflect the results shown 100% of the time. Keeping track of the meals you eat throughout the day, as well as the timings of those meals will ultimately make or break your abdominal building journey. I discuss this more in the Diet section.
So you have your food in order, now what? It’s time to focus on your body fat! Testing your body fat levels can be done if many different ways so I encourage you to get a testing device on your own or use one at your local gym. Ideal body fat percentage for a male 6 pack is around 10% at the very most. However in my personal opinion, 8% BF shows more eye catching results. I believe that getting that extra belly fat to come off is a simple process if taken seriously: do cardio! If a strong cardio routine is combined with weight training at least three days out of the week, RESULTS WILL COME. I talk about this more in my Cardio Section.
Finally, lets hit em’ hard! Having a varied but structured, simple but effective abdominal routine will help you achieve that well deserved midsection. The reason why I said varied is because your body will automatically adapt to the stress put upon it, so it is important to change up your workouts and shock your abs into growth.
Keep in mind that every single person is made differently. If you find yourself thinking, “I want my abs to look like his,” then you need to realize that your own abs are genetically formed and shaped uniquely. Although everyone can build up a stronger midsection, they might not all look the same.
We must select our exercises wisely. But first, let me talk about breathing…
Using a standard barbell curl as an example; why do we breathe in on the way down and out on the way up?
Using this correct form of breathing is key to developing a stronger and better looking midsection. So keep this in mind when training!
Knowing which exercises work the best is usually determined by the person involved in training. Ab exercises that work particularly well for me might not work well for you, and vice versa. However from my experience, the best way to train your abs is in supersets (combining more than one exercise in a row without rest). Training abs this way requires only complete body weight with very limited extra resistance. Here is a list of the best abdominal exercises:
-Basic floor crunch -Lying leg raises -Bicycles -Jack Knives -Planks (static)
-Hip & tucks -Rope Crunches -Medicine ball bicycles -Leg Lifts
-Pendulums -Yoga ball Crunches -Reverse crunches -Leg tucks
-Barbell rollouts -Hanging knee raises -Hanging leg lifts
*These are only a few exercises to help stimulate abdominal muscle growth. I encourage many others but I’ll talk about those another time! If you have any questions about these exercises and how they’re performed, feel free to email me at, Mitch.email@example.com.
Till then, train hard and train smart!
Summary with credit to: Permanent Muscle by Reuben Bajada. The Poliquin Principles by Charles Poliquin. ACEFitness.org