Mike Porter’s article The Abs Solution was hugely popular on our site. The principles outlined in the first Abs Solution article hopefully gave you a better understanding of the bigger picture when it comes to ab training. The most important principle to understand is that your body-fat needs to be low enough for your ‘six-pack’ to show through. The correct training programme and diet plan are the keys to making this happen. In my early years as a personal trainer I took clients to sub 10% body fat but their abs didn’t look great because we didn’t do any direct ab work. I learnt from my mistake and I now bring in direct ab work into the training at the right time. However, what do you do once your body fat is low enough and your abs are ready for some direct work?
To train any muscle group effectively we must first know which movements it initiates. Without getting too deep into anatomy we can single out one muscle that needs direct training for the much coveted ‘six-pack’. The main muscle that makes a chiselled set of abs is the rectus abdominus. This muscle flexes the spine (rounds the back). As personal trainers we are usually taught to teach our clients to avoid curving the spine to maintain correct posture. However if you really want to develop your abs this is what you need to do. As with most subjects in the fitness industry there are many unfounded theories on ab training, such as using only incredibly high repetitions. At Definitive Physique we are of the opinion that you should train the abs as if it were any other muscle group, meaning that you need to apply the principle of progressive overload when training your abs. Put simply you need to add weight!
The abdominals need resistance to develop just like any other muscle group. This resistance can be in many forms and does not necessarily have to be via a weight plate or dumbbell. The spine itself is a long lever and the head alone acts as good resistance for the rectus abdominus in some exercise variations. Also, cables can work well for loading the abs as the resistance stays constant throughout the range of motion. There are almost endless variations when it comes to training the abdomen. However, as we like to be as efficient as possible here at DP we have come up with a training method to work your abs in the shortest time possible. Try these exercises in a tri-set to kick start your ab development.
Hanging leg raises 8 reps
Decline sit-up 12 reps
Swiss ball crunch As many as possible in 30sec
Decline reverse sit-up 8 reps
Kneeling cable crunch 12 reps
Knee to elbow v-sit As many as possible in 30sec
These are just two of the many different abdominal training routines we use here at Definitive Physique. Try them out for yourself, use the videos to check your form. Enjoy!