Probably the number one question I get from my clients, gym members, and e-mail's is "What do you do for your abs?" I also see and hear people getting frustrated because they are doing sit-ups until they are blue in the face and are not seeing the wash board and results they thought they would get.
We all want a lean, tight, wash-board, ripped stomach right? Due to television infomercials of AB equipment and common myths running around about abdominal training, people are getting the wrong perception on how to develop and see their abdominals. That is why I am finally going to set the story about seeing your abdominals and developing your abdominals straight.
You see, most people are confusing the term "developing" with "Seeing". When it comes to abdominals these are two totally different things. All the hard AB training we endure, along with all the AB machinery sold on TV, help develop and shape the abdominal region. Here comes the sad part for some people.
How do you do that? Abdominal training in conjunction with a proper clean diet and cardiovascular training is the key. The number one question people should be asking someone with a great stomach is "What do you eat and how much cardiovascular work do you do?" It is that simple, but people need to change their perceptions on how to achieve the stomach they have always wanted.
You can have the best-developed abdominals in the gym, but they might not show until you become leaner. There is no proof to date that there is such a thing as "Spot Reducing".
"So why even bother training abdominals then, I'll let the diet and cardio take care of it." WRONG! Training the abdominals is just as important, even more so, than training your other major body parts for various health and physique benefits. The abdominal muscles that are seen when lean enough are made up of the Rectus Abdominis ("six-pack "muscle), and the External and Internal Obliques (the sides of the abdominal wall.
There really isn't any such thing as lower or upper abdomials. The upper/lower are just targeted areas of the one main muscle of the Rectus Abdominis. Different exercises can put slightly more emphasis on one area more than the other, but the whole Rectus Abdominis area gets worked with each exercise to a degree. The benefits of training and well developing these abdominal areas are:
- Helps support lower back (Extremely important benefit!)
- Serves as a muscular "girdle' when performing resistance exercises.
- Working the abs will help shape, etch, and develop the tendinous incriptions (the "six-pack, striated "ladders" of the internal and external oblique) of the abs.
- Due to added support you will be able to produce heavier lifts in your main basic exercises (squats, dead lifts, standing shoulder press, bench press, etc.).
So now that we know why it is so important to train and develop your abdominals, I am going to give you some tips that can really ensure the quality of your abdominal training.
- Train your abdominal section 3 times a week.
- Start with the exercises that stress the "lower" region of the Rectus Abdominis first. Your "upper area will also get worked during these exercises. (Leg-lifts, knee-ups, reverse crunches).
- Pick different exercises for each of the 3 days you train your abs.
- Do not arch your lower back while performing each movement. This is especially for leg-lifts. Always make sure your lower back is in contact with the floor or abdominal apparatus to prevent low -back strain.
- Breathe all your air out on the concentric (positive) phase of each rep.
- At the top of each rep cough all your air out. Have you ever noticed when you get a bad cough that your abs hurt the next day? This is because every time you cough your abs contract extremely hard for a brief second. (Try it now and see).
- Hold each rep in the contracted phase for 1-2 seconds.
- Do some light sets of dumbbell or machine pull-over to get a good stretch of the abdominals.
- Complete each and every set to absolute failure.
- Don't worry about counting your reps. Just concentrate upon the above tips and feeling the movement the whole way through. If you perform each rep perfectly, holding and squeezing, you will find yourself getting a lot better workout with a lot fewer reps.
Well there you have it! Remember you will never be able to see and develop your abdominals to the fullest unless you use a holistic approach. That means being discipline enough to follow a proper diet, doing your cardiovascular work at least 4 times a week, to lose body fat and working the entire abdominal area. It really is not that bad. Just think, when you lose that unwanted body fat and water, not only will you see and have that mid section you have been working hard for, but the rest of your body will also look leaner and better. If you want to look bigger and better, lose body fat! Until next time, Train Hard, Train Smart, Train Natural!
If you have any questions or topics you would like to see discussed or you would like to contact Chris for fitness modeling, appearances, or training/nutritional programs E-MAIL CHRIS ZAINO at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!