With summer and everything that comes with it, such as holidays and hot weather fast approaching, it seems relevant to talk about the most famous of all the muscles…The Abdominals.
The six pack is probably the most sought after muscle but as most of you will know through trying yourself, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve. Here in this blog I’m going to give you all the information you need to accomplish amazing abs.
The first and by far most important tool in getting abdominals is your nutrition. Basically it doesn’t matter how hard you train your abs in the gym, if there is a layer of fat over them they won’t show through. So you need to get your body fat down and the best way to do this is through calorie deficit. If you have a read of February’s blog it explains everything you need to know about calories and getting yourself into a deficit. Once you’ve got your nutrition under control and your body is burning fat it’s just a matter of time before you start to see some abs popping through.
The 6 pack is just like any other muscle and grows/tones when it’s put under stress, therefore we need to train it in the gym and increase the size of the muscle so again it’s more likely to show through the skin. A recent study has shown that the abdominals respond very well to isometric exercises, these are exercises where you are holding a static position that place a stress on a muscle, so basically the abdominals will be under tension but not actually moving, an example of this is the plank. If you find the plank quite easy you should try exercises such as the L-Sit and the Dragonfly. If you need these exercises demonstrating please ask me (Curt) and I’ll show you.
There’s another type of contraction that works well for abs too and it’s called the eccentric contraction. Eccentric exercises are when you lower a weight very slowly so that the muscle is under tension as it lengthens. Examples of this are doing a sit up then lowering your body very slowly back to the starting position, or doing a v-sit then lowering your body back to the starting position very slowly. There’s nothing wrong with normal concentric contractions through exercises that you will have all done before, such as sit ups and crunches but these isometric and eccentric exercises will give you a new tool to help get them abs on show.
It’s also important to point out that no matter what exercises you choose to train your abdominals you must be pushing yourself to failure on them and achieving something called progressive overload. If you need to understand what progressive overload is then have a look at January’s blog. The last thing I’d like to mention about training your abdominals is that they are often trained without you realising, I’m a great example of this. I find it quite easy to get myself an 8-pack so members often ask me what my secret is, what exercises am I doing and how often I’m training my abs to get them like they are and if I’m honest I don’t train them that often, maybe twice a week for about 15 minutes, but I always point out that I’m doing exercises such as squats, deadlifts and heavy over-head presses, these exercises put massive strain on my abs through isometric contractions (as we mentioned earlier).
So in summary if you want good abs you must firstly get your nutrition on point, this is the most important factor and when it comes to training make sure you push yourself to failure (progressive overload) with concentric contractions, eccentric contractions and isometric contractions. Finally, don’t underestimate how much other exercises can help where you don’t even realise you’re training your abs, so squats, deadlifts and overhead presses should be part of your programmes.
If you’ve seen most of my other blogs you’ll know I’m helping a gentleman called Stephen with rehabilitation on a spinal issue and operation he’s had. The latest update is that Stephen is recovering extremely well. He’s been told by his specialist that he couldn’t really be doing any better and that they are very happy with all aspects of his recovery and rehabilitation. This is obviously fantastic news for Stephen but it’s also great for me to hear as well as it means I’ve been giving Stephen the correct exercises and pushing him hard enough but not too hard, I’ve got the balance correct basically. We’ve now got the all clear to really push Stephen with exercises that test his strength, coordination and balance. I’m looking forward to putting him through it haha!