There are probably more exercises and ab workouts to lose belly fat and get a six pack than anything else, but none of them are going to do any good if you’re missing a few essentials. If you know what they are however, just about any ab workout can help you get results.
Whether you want to get a six pack or just a flatter belly, the way to do this is more definition and a tighter, leaner look. It’s not just about making the muscle, the rectus femoris, bigger. The same applies to the muscles that are on either side which are the external obliques, which can be seen, and the internal obliques, which can’t. The best way to make the most of the ab workout below is by following these tips:
Ab Workout Tip 1 – Work The Muscle Properly
The purpose of the rectus femoris (six pack) is to move the shoulders and the hips closer together, while the obliques are there to rotate the upper body above the waist so when training them, the hips should be kept as still as possible. Therefore any ab workout you try must contain exercises that do this. As obvious as this might sound it’s where most people go wrong, which is why you’ve probably seen people doing sit ups with a 20kg weight across their chest when correct technique would make it completely unnecessary. The reason for this is that to work the six pack, a sit up should start with the back flat on the floor and finish at 45 degrees or less. Certain ab exercises mean raising the back just 2 or 3 inches. Compare this to the full sit up normally done, which beyond 45 degrees is mostly working the hip flexors, not the six pack.
Ab Workout Tip 2 – Full Range Of Movement
While at first this might contradict tip 1, it actually doesn’t. Going beyond 45 degrees or allowing the hips to rotate doesn’t increase the range of movement, it just involves using muscles that the exercise isn’t aimed at training. Increasing range of movement for the six pack means hyperextending the upper spine, in other words, lowering yourself down during a sit up beyond flat. The easiest example of this is doing an upper ab crunch on a swiss ball and allowing your back to curve backwards over it.
For the obliques, a good example of full range of motion is a cable rotation done from one side to the other to the limit of your flexibility. Without moving your hips, of course.
Ab Workout Tip 3 – Engage Your Core
Engaging your core is a tip I give over and over again, whether it’s for ab workouts or anything else, because it’s an excellent way of keeping the spine in correct alignment to help prevent injuries. It is also strengthened when done for the duration of each set of ab exercises, which is essential whatever goal you have for your abs, and protects the lower back.
Ab Workout Tip 4 – Control The Eccentric
Eccentric refers to a muscle contracting, or tensing, as it is getting longer. So during a sit up the concentric part is the sitting up, the eccentric part is the lowering back down to the floor. Often this is completely ignored, but making it last 3 – 5 seconds will give extra training for the same amount of reps, and therefore better results. As with all of these tips, it applies to oblique exercises too.
Ab Workout Tip 5 – Keep The Reps High
Although great emphasis is often placed on training your six pack being very different to training any other muscle, it really isn’t. For any body part, a low amount of reps generally builds size, a high amount generally builds endurance. Because abs and obliques are best when lean and defined, the reps should be kept higher, the minimum I would usually suggest is 10 reps for each set, the maximum is 20.
Ab Workout Tip 6 – Keep Rest To A Minimum
To build a muscle it generally needs to rest between sets, but again because we want definition, keep the rest period to a minimum throughout the entire ab workout. There are 2 ways to best achieve this. The first is to choose 3 – 5 exercises and do 10 – 20 reps of each one, resting only after all exercises have been done once, then rest for up to a minute and repeat the circuit another 2 or 3 times. The second way is to superset 2 pairs of exercises, with a short rest in-between each one.
Ab Workout Tip 7 – Don’t Over-train Or Under-Train Abs
This is one of the few ways in which your six pack is different, though not exclusively so. Because the fibres are mostly slow twitch they need training more to stimulate them to adapt and improve, therefore they are best trained more than once a week. Having said that, anyone who tells you to train them every day or even twice a day is either trying to sell you their product, or just plain doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Or both. Every muscle needs plenty of rest between workouts, so 2 or 3 days a week is what you should be aiming for. Try both to see which works best for you.
Ab Workout Tip 8 – Train Abs First
It’s not hard to find a workout that has you training your six pack every time you train, but it’s easy to find one that has you training it last, almost as an afterthought. Even if you know enough to keep your sessions under an hour, the second half of your workout is never going to be as intense as the first. For that reason your abs should get their chance to be at the top of the list, so switch things around and give them their turn every few weeks.
Ab Workout Tip 9 – Change Your Exercises Regularly
Whether it’s because they have their favourites exercises, or just because they don’t know any others, people tend to do the same ones week after week, month after month. But there are literally dozens of different ab exercises around so no excuse for not getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. Not only does this help to keep things interesting, but the more you work muscles in ways they’re not used to the more improvements you’ll see. Change the exercises and their order regularly, every 4 – 6 weeks.
The Ab Workout
The following workout is to be done as supersets, which means the first exercise should be done for 12 – 15 reps then followed immediately by the second for another 12 – 15 reps, then rest for 30 – 60 seconds. This is 1 set. Repeat this for 4 sets, then move on to the second pair of exercises for another 4 sets. Remember to leave 3 or 4 days between the different workouts.
As always, any questions or feedback leave a comment below.