A chiseled midsection is the gold standard in physique training. The desire to create the perfect set of abs has lead many devoted trainees astray. Achieving an epic six-pack takes more than a ferocious amount of crunches; you need to employ the right nutrition, cardio, strength training and recovery strategies.These 5 secret techniques can help you transform your abs and get the most out of your fitness program. Are you ready to stop training like a newbie and transform your abs like a pro?
Include free-weight exercises in your strength training routine.
An article published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reported that free-weight exercises like the big-lifts: squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses activate the core muscles more than any other type of exercise. The University of South Florida research team that authored the study investigated 97 different exercises and concluded that “conditioning specialists should focus on implementing multi-joint free weight exercises, rather than core-specific exercises, to adequately train the core muscles in their athletes and clients.”
Don’t start your workout with core training.
A study conducted by the Weider Research Group discovered that when trained lifters did their core training at the beginning of a squat workout, they completed fewer reps than when they trained abs after the squat workout. This might be because training your abs first fatigues the muscles of the core which work together to stabilize the trunk during squats. Starting your training session with an exhausting abdominal routine could limit your ability to perform during the rest of your workout.
If you’re not lean, your abs can’t be seen.
If you want those abs, you’ve got to get lean by tightening up your diet! This might seem obvious, but many trainees ignore the fact that you can’t see abs, no matter how strong they are, if they are covered by a layer of fat. Think about it: if Jamie Eason is wearing a down ski jacket, can you see her amazing physique? No, because the coat is obscuring her muscles. The same holds true for your body fat. To achieve eye-popping abs, men should have a body fat under 10% and for women it should be below 18%.
A sloppy diet will cover up every bit of your core training. Be sure to consume enough protein to properly recover from your training. Your muscles need between 0.8 – 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. You also want to avoid fast digesting carbs like white bread and sugar. These types of carbs can spike insulin, which will slow fat-burning and boost fat storage, particularly on top of your abs.
Sprint your way toward a six-pack.
You may already know that sprinting is a fantastic way to burn calories, but did you know it’s also a killer core workout? Sprinting allows you to burn fat (get lean) while working the entire core. Celebrity trainer, Obi Obadike, explains, “while you’re sprinting, your abs have to constantly produce force to keep your body upright and your trunk stabilized… If you do multiple sets of sprints, your abs will spend a lot of time under tension working as hard as they can.”
One way that you can mix sprinting into your program is to try a high intensity interval sprint workout. Try alternating 200 meter sprints with 200 meter walks. The 200 meter walk should allow for 2-3 minutes of recovery in between sprints. This simple workout will train your core, increase your power production and aerobic capacity.
Your abs need rest.
Training your abs is no different than training any other body part. You need the right combination of rest and recovery to see results. Bryan DiSanto, personal trainer and Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, recommends training abs once every 3 days or 2-3 times a week to allow for proper recovery and enough time to train your major muscle groups.
DiSanto goes on to say that “big lifts are the sledgehammer; isolated ab exercises are the scalpel. Leverage both and reap the rewards.” The majority of your time at the gym should be focused on complex lifts that target major muscle groups and cardio. The abs you are after will be the result of shedding body fat and stimulating muscle growth. Sacrificing your major lifts for ab isolation exercises is a mistake.
Building your ideal physique takes a holistic approach. Don’t make the mistake of overemphasizing a single goal or body part. These 5 tips will not only help you get the shredded abs you’re after, they will improve your training on the whole.