Watch here as a 50 kilo female skiier does sit-ups with 45 kilos for reps and then ask yourself what are the possibilities when you learn what true “strength training for the abdominals” really is.
Crunches are bullshit………..That’s right bullshit…….do all the reps you want and you will never get abs, that is 95% guaranteed. Gimmicks, Gimmicks, Gimmicks, what is the latest gimmick that is how you ask what is “in” for abdominal training.
Some people just have great abs, just like some people have big arms, but for most the truth is the reason you never get a six pack is you never really train the muscles. This article is going to teach you what you have been doing wrong and how to get it right.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, of course the diet is important and we all know that the muscles and fat are two different things. Train the abs and diet the fat away.
Sounds simple doesn’t it. Well it is. We know a lot about diet; bodybuilders have perfected this part of training. As for the ab training part, well, this there is a lot to learn about.
If you did bench presses with the bar or did a few pushups would you ever expect to get a big chest? Of course not. Then why do you train the abdominals that way?
The abdominal muscles are made of the same type of muscle as every other muscle, then why in the world don’t we train them the same? Well now you are going to get the truth about abdominal training. It is simple; train them heavy and in a full range of motion.
How many of you treat the abdominal muscles like you treat the rest of your body parts? No, you do a few crunches at the end of your workout and expect some magic to happen and a six pack will appear.
The way abdominal exercises are learned is someone in the gym sees an exercises in a magazine or on some TV program, copies it, gets a burn and says wow this must be great. So everyone starts doing it. The question is, does it really do what people think it does? That is where science comes in. To tell if an exercise works the first thing I teach in my certification class is before you can judge if an exercise works is learn what exactly the muscle in question does then you can decide if it does what you have been told.
First you must understand what the abdominals do. The dominant abdominal muscles consist of the external oblique’s, rectus abdominus and internal obliques, but you have all heard that before so I don’t want to go into a lot of big names here. The abs are attached from the rib cage to the pelvis. You have heard that too. BUT, what you haven’t heard or if you have you may not understand it is the full range of motion of the abdominals is to bend the spine from FULL extension to full contraction. If you stand up straight and bend all the way back you will see how far back you can bend the spine. The abdominals start working from this far back. What you will notice is the stretch that you now are getting. When you lie down to do your crunches or other ab exercises you shorten this motion by almost ½ as soon as you lie down on the floor, thus missing half the range of motion of your abs. Now you can see the range the abs work in. Following are two videos that explain this in a little diferent way.
The second mistake people make when they judge and ab exercises is do they get the burn. Well, let me tell you something. For this purpose the burns doesn’t mean a thing. A good example is for you to stand with your back against a wall. Squat down until you legs are bent 90 degrees, like if you were in the bottom part of a squat. Now, just stand there for 45 seconds. Well, we know you will get a great burn in your quads, right? Would you think this is a good exercise for working your quads? Of course not. This is the same with all these burn exercises for abs. Forget them.
What we have learned is abdominal muscles must be trained heavy like every other muscle, they must be trained in a full range of motion and the burn is a bad indicator of a good abdominal exercises.
The current exercise that is popular is the cable crunch off the high pulley. I will use this as an example to explain how to analyze an exercise, determine if it does what you have been told and if not, then adjust it so it willwork .
- We already have said the abdominal muscles bend the spine and the full range of motion is from full extension to full contraction. Lets look at it from another view.
- It is obvious from the video that this exercise does not work in a full range of motion. Yes, you may feel a burn, but you have learned that is not an indicator that the muscle in question is working.
- So to use this method and work the abs we must simply make an adjustment to the motion. By putting the preacher curl machine in the movement to support the back we can fix the problem and thus work the now fits the criteria of full range of motion.
The Training Routine: When you are serious about the abs we have some perfect ways to work them. The next videos will give you some idea of the proper eercise form using two devices. An ab bench and ab mat. Both will giv you the full range of motion, allow you to add weight , like every other exercise you do, and get the different sections of the abs the same as you would with chest or back. Working each piece for the perfect workout.
The center part of your body is 1/3 of the body. Treat it as such. You have to start taking your abdominal and lower back training as serious as you take all the other body parts. (I will talk about lower back training in another article)
Before I give you the routines for doing the abdominals this is a good time to add another point that we can call ,”food for thought”, to the article. Repetitions, the amount of repetitions you do during the working sets* of an exercise has different effects on the body. It has to do with the energy system used. This could be a long discussion, so I will try and keep it simple for now. If you work 3-5 reps you will make the muscles harder, not necessarily bigger. If you do 6-20 reps, these are reps that the muscles can get bigger from. Why I bring this up now is when working the abdominals in a full range of motion you can make these muscles bigger if you’re working sets fall in the 6-20 rep range. The abdominals can grow and you will then see what the term “six pack” is all about. If you want to just get hard, tight abs, do you’re working sets for 3 to 5 perfect reps.
*Note: when I use the term working sets I mean the sets after your 1-2 warm-up sets.
Main exercise: for the abdominals is the ab bench full range crunch, the preacher, and cable combo or ab mat sit-up. Focus on all three abdominal muscles. 4 sets
Full twist: Focus on all three abdominal muscles. Like doing a lunge after squats, just a little different movement, but focus is on the same muscles. 4 sets
External obliques Twists: External obliques. 3 sets
Low ab crunch. 2 sets
Low ab twists. 2 sets
As you can see from this routine this routine can easily be looked at as serious as you chest or back routine and in fact it is just as important or more so because of the importance you place on having a great set of abs.
Give your abs the respect they deserve and they will give you the look you want.
Fred Koch, P-SCE is the International Director for Tudor Bompa Institute, TBI, one of the world’s top certifications systems. For more information you can e-mail Fred, firstname.lastname@example.org or see his blog at www.fredkoch.com
Fred Koch (P-SCE), er styrketrener og bor i Kristiansand. Jeg er direktør for Tudor Bompa Institute (TBI) på verdensbasis. TBI er et internasjonalt sport- og fitness sertifiseringsprogram for personlige trenere og styrketrenere. www.fredkoch.com
Fred recently co-opened the Bear Cave Trenningsenter in Vågsbygd Norway, see www.bearcave.no