3 Easy Steps to the Perfect 6 Pack
When it comes to the hallmark of a fit physique, a tight midsection is universally seen as an indicator of health, fitness, and hard work. Building a great midsection is a combination of three factors: genetics, nutrition, and weight training. When creating programs for clients, I often field numerous questions about abdominal training, so I have compiled my best ab training advice below.
You Cannot Out Crunch a Bad Diet
There is give and take in every relationship, but when it comes to nutrition and your midsection, your abdominals will not lie to you. If your diet is focused on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, a healthy amount of mono saturates, and an unrefined complex carbohydrates, you are setting yourself up for a healthy amount of body fat, which would otherwise cover your abs. If you are a competitor, staying within 8-12 lbs of your contest weight facilitates an easier transition to contest season and, in most cases, means abs all year round. Females should aim for approximately 1-1.25 grams of protein (1.5 if you weight train heavily), 0.5 grams of fat, and 1.5-2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight per day to maintain a balanced, healthy physique. In addition to eating ‘clean’ foods, avoiding foods that cause bloating is another method of ensuring your midsection looks taut, so be aware of your food sensitivities and drink plenty of water (I recommend a gallon- 3.78 litres- per day).
Genetics Play A Role In Your Body Composition
So many people underestimate the magnitude of what your parents have given you. Your height, bone density, structure, muscle length, and composition are all thanks to your parents. So if you have a 23″ waist or propensity for ‘ninja turtle’ abs, this is all predetermined by your lineage. That is not to say that you cannot increase muscle size (of course you can!), but the way your rib cage is built and length of your torso are huge contributing factors in how your abs will shape up, and are determined by your genetic make-up. If you have a shorter torso and thicker waist, you should avoid heavily waited oblique exercises, as these will add size and width to your waist and make you appear thicker. If you have a hard time putting on muscle mass, using a heavier weight training regime will help you improve the size and shape of your abs, and you may have to do more work for that athletic look you strive for. As you can see, no two people may necessarily have the same ab training routine as every body is different.
Weight Train To Increase Muscle Mass
When I was in university, I trained abs hard and often. This allowed me to create a good amount of muscle mass and, consequently, nowadays I do not have to do the same amount of volume to maintain my muscle size and shape – thank you muscle memory! Like any other muscle group, abs should be rested in between workouts to recover and grow, and should not be trained everyday. I normally recommend performing three to five exercises, three times per week. Normally, I like to tack my ab workouts onto my cardio rather than weight training session to ensure my muscles are fresh and not fatigued from training another body part. My favourite (and staple!) exercises include:
– Hanging leg raises (you can also add a twist or pulse to these as you get stronger)
– Throw downs
– Alternating oblique crunches on a Bosu ball
– Jackknife on a stability ball
– Decline crunches *W
– Seated oblique twist *W
– Scissor kick off a flat bench
– V sits *W
– Mountain climbers
* I have denoted exercises that I normally perform weighted with a ‘W’
What are your favourite ab training exercises? Okay, now that you have thought of them, DO NOT DO THEM NEXT TIME! Try something new and I promise your midsection will thank you for it.