As with every other muscle in the body, the abs need to be trained regularly if you want to improve the way they look and perform. Unfortunately, abs aren’t normally given the same attention and focus as other body parts. You ever notice how most splits don’t include them? This is because most lifters “throw them in” after another body part at random. If you want the abs to look good and be strong, then it takes the same effort and focus as the other muscle groups.
The abs, or core, is crucial in overall physique development. For physique purposes, they are the centerpiece of the body. The standards of being lean are measured by the way your abs look.
As for performance, the core must be strong if you want to fulfill your potential. Let’s look at the squat as an example. Yes, squats are for the legs, but if your abs aren’t strong enough to maintain stability, then you won’t be able to control how you move the weight.
How Often Should You Train Abs
Now that we’ve agreed that ab training needs to be taken more seriously, how much more seriously should it be taken? Devoting two sessions a week to them with at least 72 hours in between is very beneficial. You can place these workouts wherever you want in your training split, but make sure you start the workouts with your ab training. Committing yourself to the abs at the beginning when you’re fresh and focused can be the key to yielding the greatest results.
Abs Are Made in the Kitchen
The way you eat has a direct correlation to how your abs look. So let’s talk about how you eat before we get to work. If your abs aren’t visible, then you need to focus on eating healthy. There are plenty of articles here on M&S that can help you determine the proper amount of macronutrients you should eat.
Another valuable tool that you can benefit from is the Basal Metabolic Rate Daily Calorie Calculator. This tool can help you determine how many calories you need based on the effort you give to the training. When you start creating your nutrition plan or using any of those that we offer, bookmark the BMR calculator so you have access to it anytime you need it.
Related: How to Diet to Get Visible Abs
Ab Training at Home
There are many people that have committed to working out at home, and they deserve to see results just like those of us that go to the gym. So, this program allows you to perform the exercises anywhere you have available space. The only equipment that you should need is a light weighted ball or dumbbells and ankle weights. If you don’t have those items, then your bodyweight alone would be fine.
There will be two workouts included. One is a straight-set, normal session that shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes. The other is the same exercises but performed in a circuit fashion that will take you around 10 minutes.
The first workout allows you to focus on the quality of the muscle contraction with each rep. The second one is a speed session to really challenge the muscles.
5 Exercises for Your Abs
You may have seen the traditional version of this exercise with the hands overhead with nothing to hold. Having your hands up can increase the resistance on the upper portions of the abs. The difference with the weighted crunch is that you’re holding a weight overhead. A light pair of dumbbells or a plate would also work here.
You should focus on contracting the abs, not sitting up. It may not be the biggest range of motion, but you really don’t need it here. Contract the abs, feel that squeeze, go back down. If you want to make an even greater exercise, raise your feet off the floor. This will force you to focus more on stability.
Rotating Mountain Climber
The standard mountain climber is considered by many to be more of an aerobics type move. However, the rotating mountain climber concentrates on the lower portion of your abdominals, and you'll definitely feel the burn with this one. There are two extra modifications you can make for this movement. First, wear the ankle weights if you have them so you have a way to increase resistance. Second, don’t just bring the knee straight in. The twist at the top can incorporate the abdominals. If you get to the point that these feel too easy, increase your reps.
You may have heard of the barbell seated twist. This version allows you to hold the weight at your center. This means the weight will be closer to your core, so you could feel the load more directly on the abs.
When you make your turns, do them slowly. Make sure the muscle is working. This also will help prevent stress on your spine. If you want to make the exercise a little more difficult, lean back and raise your feet. If you need it to be easier, then either stand or do these seated without the weight.
Lying Leg Raise
The lying leg raise is as simple of an exercise as it gets. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. If you perform your reps slow enough and focus on the work your abs are doing, it can be meaningful. Having those ankle weights will make this even better (or worse, depending on your perspective).
When your legs reach the top, raise your hips completely off of the floor for an extra contraction. Hold that position for one second before you lower your legs back down. Make sure you control the speed of your legs dropping. If you can’t, then end your set.
Stabilization is as important as contraction for quality core development. Doing planks after all of the other exercises will make these a little more interesting, but you should still be able to complete the task. Once you get past the 60-second recommendation, try to add five seconds to each workout until you reach two minutes.
Workout #1 – Straight Sets Session
The first workout can take place before a larger upper body workout such as chest or back. The rep scheme doesn’t seem like much, but it can be if you focus on doing each rep properly. That is the key to this program. Flying through the reps to commit more time to the other muscle group won’t help you here. The patience and effort on quality will be well worth it.
|Weighted Crunch||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|Rotating Mountain Climber||3||10-12 (each side)||60 seconds|
|Seated Twist||3||10-12 (each side)||60 seconds|
|Lying Leg Raise||3||10-12||60 seconds|
|Plank||3||60 seconds||60 seconds|
Workout #2 – Ab Blasting Circuit (ABC)
This workout is to be performed in a circuit. That means you don’t rest until all five exercises are completed. You should perform three circuits of this workout before a smaller muscle group session like arms or on its own. You perform each set based on a time recommendation instead of a rep scheme. Even though time is the name of the game, you should still focus on making each rep meaningful. Don’t worry so much about beating a rep mark.
Complete the following exercises back-to-back with no rest between exercises. This counts as one round. Rest 2 minutes between each round. Repeat 3 times. Once you are able to finish three rounds of this with no problem, add five seconds to each exercise.
|Weighted Crunch||30 seconds|
|Rotating Mountain Climber||30 seconds|
|Seated Twist||30 seconds|
|Lying Leg Raise||30 seconds|
The workouts here aren’t overly complicated, but ab training shouldn’t be complicated, either. The key to success is consistency and patience. Like gaining strength or losing fat, being consistent and knowing it takes time is half of the battle. After two months on this program, you should see positive results in both the way your abs look and feel.