Why Your Ab Training Sucks & 7-Ways to Fix It
There are slightly more than 2.7 million books written on Ab Training according to a survey I made up (it’s probably 10-fold that #)…which essentially tells you no one has figured it out.
I’m not a world-renowned expert on abdominal training, but I’ve picked up a thing or two (or 7 in this case) over the past 15-years of training that can help you out.
7-Ways To Fix Your Abdominal Training
1. Quit Doing So Many Damn Crunches. Think quality over quantity. Even though your abs are endurance based muscles, you’re better off sprinkling in 15-20 high quality crunches every 10 or 15 minutes within your workout. Don’t save them all for the beginning or end, quality suffers in the interest of time. Slow down, focus, get a good burn and move on.
2. Your Form Is Junk. See below for a breakdown.
Position: Heels under knees, mid/low back on front 3rd of ball, hands behind head or crossed on chest, hips up, and last but not least: FEEL YOUR ABS WORKING BEFORE YOU MOVE. This apply’s to any medium you choose to train your abs.
From here, maintain ab engagement, curl up lifting one vertebra off the ball at a time, while exhaling through your mouth. Think about pulling the bottom of your sternum closer to your waistline as you crunch, pause for a second at the top, then slowly lower one vertebra at a time back onto the ball, being careful of not extending too far back. It’s all about a controlled tempo & focused engagement through a modified range.
3. You’re Constipated. The same nerves that innervate (connect) your abdominal muscles also innervate your intestinal tract/bowels. When your plumbing is backed up your abdominal muscle activation suffers. Performing ab exercises while constipated often causes more back pain than ab muscle burn. Laxatives are a Band-Aid to the real issue of a poor diet. I recommend a food allergy test to pinpoint what’s slowing things down.
4. You Don’t Sweat During Your Workouts. A good sweat “leans out” the body, i.e. tightens it up.When the body is tight, all muscles, including your abs work better. Also when you’re sweating you’re typically working out harder…a hard workout (sprints for example) causes all muscles in the body to pull together to accomplish challenging moves.
5. Attending a 30-Min Ab Class is Foolish. Rock a total body strength circuit with cardio intervals mixed in. This will spike the metabolism like no other, shredding fat, and engaging the abs to boot! See last week’s post for circuit training tips.
6. You Don’t Lift Heavy Enough Weights. I’m talking to the ladies. When you lift heavier weights your entire body has to engage/brace to execute thee given movement. 1-arm dumbbell rows in an open stance is a great example:
Sure this guy’s a freak, but using a split stance, without a bench, using heavy weight drills the abs as much as the back and biceps!
7. Your Kitchen Pantry Looks Like a Non-Perishable Food Drive. You don’t want to hear it, but 80% of abs are gained or lost in the kitchen not the gym. THE WHITES (breads, cereals, bagels, pasta, candy, soda, chips, cookies, pastries, etc) will destroy even the most rigorous of workouts. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.
“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time — pills or stairs.” –Joan Welsh