Quite frankly, abdominals are one of the most misunderstood muscle groups in our bodies. However, they are also one of the most sought after. So lets set the record straight and probably cause some controversy at the same time! Today we will try and answer some of the most difficult questions concerning this area of training.
Question #1: Should I be performing Crunches to see a six pack?
Well, whats your diet like? A six-pack is made in the kitchen NOT the gym. You can increase the size (hypertrophy) of your muscles with exercise but you need to reduce your body fat percentage to actually see them.
Question #2: Should I train my Ab’s every day?
No. Even if they’re not sore. If you do a chest workout and you’re not sore the next day you’d still wait at least a day or so to recover wouldn’t you?! You should treat Ab training like you would any other muscle, and train them every other day at a maximum.
Question #3: Should I do weighted Ab training?
Yes and no. You should do weighted work to gain mass. A typical routine of 8-12 reps and 3-4 sets per exercise. Doing millions of crunches is an example of training for muscular endurance, not strength or hypertrophy (size).
Question #4: Are you saying I shouldn’t do more than 12?
Yes, if you’re working for mass and no if your goals are abdominal definition. You should train between 30-50 reps for definition without weight.
Question #5: Should I separate my abdominal training into upper/lower & obliques?
You can, but it may not be as effective as you think. Stating that you can train upper Abs by doing one exercise and your lower Abs with another just isn’t true. Both types of movements use the rectus abdominal (the legendary 6 muscles at the front). Even the obliques assist with torso flex. However, you could say that certain exercises will emphasize more of the upper Ab’s vs. the lower Ab’s, like normal crunches compared to lying leg raises. The bottom line is that you can place more emphasis on aspects of the muscle, but you can’t completely isolate them.
Question #6: If I do my Ab’s all at once does the order matter?
As some exercises emphasize certain parts you can pre-fatigue a specific area of your Abdominals and get maximum results for your efforts. If the emphasis is upper abs, then work them first, if it’s lower than begin by working them.
Question #7: When do I breathe out?
At the peak of the contraction. Breathe at the top of the movement, just before the negative contraction, exhale the air out forcefully by squeezing your pelvic region to the floor. By doing this during the positive rep, you will produce maximum Ab tension and relieve lumber spine pressure.
Question #8: How quickly should I do my crunches, does it matter?
Yes, it does matter! The Ab’s are comprised of slow twitch muscle fibres, for that reason you should slow it down. You’ll see more results! I take approximately 3-5 seconds per crunch and sometimes longer!
Question #9: But how do I get the coveted middle separation (the trench)?
Ever wondered how to get the peak in the Ab’s? The trench in the middle? Hold that contraction at the peak of the movement for about 3-5 seconds and squeeze by rolling your pelvis towards your head.
Question #10: If I just do say Crunches and Leg Raises will that be enough?
No. To get that 6 pack you need to ATTACK that mid-section from as many different angles as possible, as with every aspect of bodybuilding – keep your body guessing!! Crunches, Reverse Crunches, Leg Raises, Twisted Leg Raises, so on.
Question #11: When I do Ab work should I anchor my feet to something?
No. When you restrain your legs or feet during Ab work you actually train the hip flexors more than anything else. Also, you place unnecessary strain on your lumbar spine.
With all of this being said, the bottom line still stands! You can have the strongest Ab’s known to man but if you have a body fat of 25% you won’t ever see them!