One thing you are almost certain to see when walking into a gym is people doing endless crunches on the floor in an effort to achieve a well defined midsection. Why is this so common? Well it’s because abs are the ultimate show muscle and doing endless crunches is going to get me a ripped six pact to show the ladies. Ok sounds like we need a lesson on how to properly train our abdominal region.
First, before we even get into proper abdominal training I feel it is necessary to give away my secret right up front. The key to having great abdominals is having a low body fat. If you have a high body fat it really doesn’t matter how well conditioned your abs are they will likely be covered by a layer of fat. If this is the case you need to concentrate on lowering your body fat first. Nutrition is going to play a huge part in this along with a cardio routine that includes some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to help facilitate more fat burning effects. Once you get your nutrition and cardio geared towards losing fat, an intense ab busting routine will put you well on your way to the midsection you want.
The main component of training the abdominal region includes four areas to be specifically targeted; upper abs, lower abs, oblique’s, and core. When training the abdominals it is important to remember how muscles in general respond best to training. With abdominals like any muscle there must be continued progression. An endless rep of crunches day after day is not the answer. There needs to be added resistance, something to force your abdominals to work harder than they are accustomed to. Added resistance during ab exercises can come from holding a weight plate, kettle bell, medicine ball, using a cable station or roman chair to perform you exercise on. Also adding instability in the form of an exercise ball can provide added benefit to your ab training.
A good ab program has to include an exercise from each of the four specific areas; upper, lower, oblique’s, and core. This style of routine should be done 2 or 3 times per week with rest days in between, remember your abs need time for recovery in order to make improvements just like all of your other muscles.
Sample Abdominal Plan
- Rope Cable Crunch 3 sets 12-15 reps (upper abs)
- Hanging Knee Raise 3 sets 12-15 reps (lower abs)
- Weighted rotation on exercise ball 3 sets 12-15 reps (oblique’s)
- Plank holds 3 sets 45-60 sec holds (core)