What is one of the first things people notice about you, when you take your shirt off? Which is one of the most attractive muscles (or muscle groups) for both men and women?
Abs is the answer. But they are really tricky muscles to develop. Training the abdominal muscles has recently been the subject of more misinformation and mythology than any other part of the human body.
Your body fat levels
You may possibly have the most perfectly developed abs in the world, but as long as your body fat is not under 8-10%, you won’t be able to see them.
You may do 100’s of crunches daily hoping to develop better abs, but it’s just not happening because of your high body fat levels.
So to uncover your well-build six-pack abs you need to burn that body fat – this means proper dieting and doing cardio.
Training and overtraining
The most important thing for success here is the proper form and the variation of the abs training. Without the proper form you could spend years in doing thousands of crunches and sit-ups and still get no results.
As for variation you have to switch up your exercises regularly at a given period. Here are the three critical points of your abs training:
Progressive intensity from workout to workout
Proper spacing of workouts to prevent from overtraining or under-training
If you are doing 20 crunches per day for a whole year, you should not expect your abdominals to develop beyond that capacity. Muscles only develop in response to overload which is above the normal. To force new muscle development, you need to increase the intensity.
Many people do hundreds of crunches and sit-ups in order to obtain better abs, but first it is ineffective and second it is overtraining. You would train your abs the same way you would train your biceps and triceps. Generally speaking there is nothing unique about abdominal muscles as far as their training and response to training is concerned. But on other hand you don’t want to develop enormous abs that stick out like a pot belly. You want flat six packs defined with deep lines in between them.
Effective abs exercises
- Weighted crunches
- Weighted incline sit-ups
- Weighted decline sit-ups
The best way to perform weighted crunches is to lie on the floor with your head close to the low pulley weight stack. Grasp the rope handle attachment and pull the cable until it is tight and your hands are resting at the side of your head near your ears. Now contract your abdominal muscles in a crunch that lifts your shoulders off the floor and draws the weight stack up an inch or two. Choose a weight resistant enough so you can do no more than 8-12 reps.
If you don’t have access to a low pulley there is another good alternative. You can use the high pulley – normally used for lat pulldowns. Kneel on the floor or sit in the seat under the rope. Lock your legs under the hold down. Put the handles of the rope into a position next to your ears, and then contract your abs into a crunch that raises the weight stack an inch or two. Again choose the weight to be heavy enough, so you can do only 8-12 reps.
As a further alternative you could lie on the floor and do a sit-up or crunch while holding a barbell plate or some other weight against your chest. As you progress in strength you cold increase the weight.
Weighted decline sit-ups, when done correctly will develop the centre line that tears down your abs into pieces. To perform this exercise, adjust a sit-up bench to about 30 degrees incline. Hold a barbell plate behind your neck (you could start without weights or something not so heavy), and slowly lower yourself to the position where your back is just off the bench, keep your back straight. Then slowly come back to the start position. The idea is to perform this really slow, because the slower you lower yourself, the more work your abs have to do. You should go for 15-20 reps or to failure.
After each successive workout aim for a 5-15% increase of the weight you used. If you can’t get a 5% increase then you should increase the days of resting between workouts.
Remember when you are doing exercises for your abdominal muscles, you have to squeeze your abs at the contraction point. This way you can ensure a long-lasting tightness. We wish great six packs to all of you.