The big problem is
that intellectually, many people totally agree. However, emotionally it
does not click. I know this because day after day I see people doing marathon
abdominal work. They do four or five different exercises. They think the
more they do, the more defined their abs will become. They try to target
the upper, lower, inner and outer, left, right, etc. Give me a break.
They do tons of weighted side bends trying to get rid of the love handles.
Here's a news flash -- It won't work. You cannot spot reduce! What I mean
by this is that you can't pick and choose the areas that you would like
to lose the fat and do exercises that work those areas expecting the fat
to just magically disappear in those areas.
Your body does not work that way. The only way to decrease the amount
of fat in certain key areas is by lowering your total body fat levels.
As you lose fat, it will come off all over your body, not just in specific
It's kind of interesting to watch sometimes. They have the right motivation,
but they are doing the wrong things. If they expended 1/2 the energy on
their diet as they do doing rep after rep of hanging leg raises, they
would already have their six pack. Developing
a visible set of abs is simple.
Ab development can be boiled
down to a few simple steps
go on a fatloss diet.
If you have a high
bodyfat percentage, the abs won't show no matter how much you work. Once
your bodyfat falls below 8% for men, or 14% for women, your abs will begin
to show through.
Your diet should consists
higher protein intake, moderate fat and moderate complex carbohydrate.
You should cut out all excess simple sugars, lower your dairy intake and
eliminate excess saturated fats. The majority of your dietary fat should
come from essential fatty acids (EFA's -- omega-6 and omega-3).
To lose fat you need
to eat fewer calories. You should create a mild caloric deficit when dieting.
In other words, you should be using more calories than you are taking
in from your diet. This way, your body has to get the extra calories it
needs from fat stores (hopefully). I say hopefully because if you drop
your calories too drastically, your body may prefer to use muscle tissue
for energy instead of fat. This is why many people who go on fad diets
look so soft. They lose almost as much muscle mass as fat those drastic
start exercising aerobically.
Perform some form
of cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis -- at least 3 times per
week. It doesn't matter what you do (walking, running, cycling, aerobics,
stairstepper, etc.), as long as it keeps your heart rate elevated for
at least 30-45 minutes. This will speed your fat loss by elevating your
metabolism, thus burning more calories.
Finally, work your abs 2-3 times per week.
Work your abs like
any other body part. Training them more than once or twice per week is
unnecessary. More is not necessarily better. I typically do only two different
abdominal exercises. The first is the simple crunch (yes, crunches) and
reverse crunches. That's it.
Contraction is everything
when working abs. Remember that your abs work like an accordion, not like
a hinge. So when doing crunches, you should concentrate on crunching together
rather than moving your body upwards. This will maximize muscle tension.
You must concentrate on contracting your muscles as tight as you can.
This will cause them to fatigue faster. It does not matter how many reps
you can do; the only thing that matters is how hard you can contract your
If it takes you 100 crunches before your abs begin to burn, then you are
wasting your time. Your abs should be fatigued at no more than 20-25 reps.
If they are aren't, you need to add weights to your exercise and work
on contracting the muscles tightly for each rep. Don't concentrate so
much on "how many" you can do, but instead focus on "how
hard" you can contract the abdominal muscles
Contrary to popular belief (another myth), doing full sit-ups, lying leg
raises or hanging leg raises DOES NOT give your abdominals the
best workout. In fact, these exercises work your hip flexor muscles (psoas
major) much more than your abs!
Remember, the most effective exercises for working the abs must involve
a "scrunching" type contraction, like an accordion.