Dear diary, I want ABS. Now. Before we dive into the world of ab-creation and I show you around the ab-laboratory, there’s a few things you need to know. Actually, you should already know these things if you’ve read my previous articles. In case you haven’t; here’s a short summary:
- If you want visible abs, meaning you can actually see the muscle covered beneath your winter coat made out of fat, you need to focus on your food, not on things to do in the gym. Here’s why: http://220.127.116.11/healthy/the-truth-on-fat/
- If you’ve stopped losing fat or have hit a plateau somehow, there are a few reasons why. Read all about hitting a plateau here: http://18.104.22.168/healthy/ive-hit-plateau-now/
- If you don’t know how to lose fat by keeping track of your food intake – which is crucial – this might help: http://22.214.171.124/healthy/bleep-macros/
First things first: forget everything you think you know about ab training
Abs are probably the most wanted “thing” people want all around the world. Well, the western world that is, since we don’t care that much about actual important stuff most of the time, but alas.
The image above shows you the anatomy of the abdominal muscles. Contrary to popular belief: your abs are actually made out of one muscle, the rectus abdominis muscle. That muscle is crossed by three fibrous bands called the tendinous inscriptions. These bands are why you abs show up as a “six pack” or an “eight pack” in some people. They also determine the shape of your abs.Have a six pack but you really want an eight pack? Forget about it.
Don’t like your odd looking left middle ab? Try finding new genes, cause there’s nothing you can do about it.
The fact you’re talking about one muscle, means you can’t train just the lower or upper abs either. It’s simply one muscle that functions as a whole, no matter where you ‘feel the burn’. You don’t see people train the upper or lower part of their bicep either, the body doesn’t work that way.
No one has gigantic abs
Take big male bodybuilders as an example, Ronnie Coleman in this case. His arms, chest, shoulders, back and legs are probably ten times the size of when he first started, but his abs aren’t. You never see people with gigantic abs popping out there shirt. When people develop muscles, they never complain about clothes being too tight around their waist because of their huge abs. Why? Because your abdominal muscles don’t have much growth potential. The same applies to most people’s forearms. They stay relatively small in most cases.
Lower growth potential means you don’t need to do as much to fulfill that potential.
If you work at a company where you can end up being a CEO and earn $15.000 a month, it’s going to take you more time and work than when you work at McDonald’s and can’t get to much more than franchise manager. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. McDonald’s is awesome.
So now what? Is ab training useful at all? It’s all about crunches, right!?
Unfortunately not. Crunches are probably one of the worst and useless exercises you can do. When people do exercises like squats or deadlifts, they know they shouldn’t round their lower back all the time. Yet, ten minutes later, they’ll do a million sit-ups, which constantly bends the spine. Not to mention the crunch + twist variety where you round + twist the spine. Trust me, your spine is going to thank you in 50 years when you can still walk properly.
The only accurate thing about Tell Sell infomercials were videos of people grabbing their lower backs after regular ab exercises. They’re not good for you. Period.
Useful ab exercises
The low growth potential your abs have are pretty much fulfilled (and more) by doing heavy squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pull ups and other exercises that’ll do so much more for you. However, if you really want to train your abs because you somehow love it, there are a few alternatives, mostly referred to as ‘core training’.
- Any kind of planking, but preferably RKC planks
- Farmer Walks/Loaded Carries
- Reverse Crunch
- Ab Wheel Rollouts
- Unilateral leg exercises, like High Step Ups or Bulgarian Split Squats
- Stir the Pot
- Split Stance Cable Chops
While not all exercises might look or feel like direct ab exercises, they sure as hell work the muscles. Combine proper core training with good nutrition and you’ll definitely succeed in finding all that lost treasure we refer to as abs.