When people assess whether someone is strong they immediately look at the weight they can lift. Similarly when trying to gauge someone’s endurance you might look at how far they can run, but when it comes to judging a persons condition…you always look at the abs!
The abs are an impressive sheath of muscle that help you breath, provide stability, enable you to bend and rotate, and look damn good in a swim costume! Most people pursuing an aesthetic body want abs…trouble is, many go about it the wrong way:
Many think the abs need to grow before they show, when in most cases the abs are already developed, only they’re covered by a layer of subcutaneous fat. Therefore in your pursuit of ripped abs it makes little sense to increase the load when training them, the best course of action is to perform 15-20 reps per set and stick to the basic crunch, reverse crunch and hanging leg raises to strip off the layer of fat between each muscle!
Diet – you knew it was coming. You can’t out train a bad diet, and diet is 80% of the battle when it comes to achieving toned and prominent abs. Many people will overdo the carbs and 1.) increase total calorie intake resulting in a surplus to requirements, and 2.) cause an osmotic shift of water to the abdominal region smoothing the abs out. The macro’s target is basically 45% carbs, 35% fat and 20% protein and the composition should be balanced with approx half of your meal being veg, a quarter being protein and the final quarter being starch such as rice, sweet potato or pasta.
‘I’ll just throw abs in at the end’…umm, this isn’t going to cut the mustard, or your abs for that matter! Abs are muscles and it’s prudent to remember that they need an adequate stimulus to induce growth and development. How many people do you know ho train their chest, back or shoulders for an hour, only to throw abs in for the last 5-10mins of the session? Take it from me, this isn’t adequate and the abs will stay as they are if this is the only investment of time you afford them!
So when it comes to achieving a chiselled mid-section you owe it to yourself to give those abdominals the time and energy they deserve and need. Remember that the abs are not made of just the 6- 8 bulges known as the rectus abdominus you see protruding from your mid-section, they also include the exterior obliques and tranverse abdominals (TVA) that sit behind the rectus abdominus keeping the organs etc in place. So consider also performing some ‘tummy suctions’ which is fundamentally a pilates technique which entails ‘sucking in’ your mid-section and attempting to breath as normal whilst maintaining this stance. This technique helps your breathing through its ability to train your inspiratory muscles (including the TVA), as well as strengthening the TVA and surrounding muscles.
So in your pursuit of those illusive abdominals, avoid the above 3 mistakes to give yourself the best chance possible of getting a mid-section to be proud of!