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Hello beautiful people! Today’s post is brought to you in collaboration with my friend Christy Andorf. Follow her on Instagram: @christy.livefit for more on fitness, food, and all things lifestyle — she’s incredible and wise beyond words.
Before diving into the content Christy shared in her last weekly e-mail (yes, she sends FREE weekly info) I’d like to give my two cents on this topic.
- Everybody has abs. Just like everyone has fingernails, and skin, and toes, and hair. So this notion of “wanting abs” drives me kind of nuts. THEY’RE THERE, you might just not be able to see them (yet!)
- Fat around the mid-section, known as visceral fat, is harder to shrink than the fat on the rest of your body. I say shrink because, surprise! you can’t actually destroy fat cells. (Actually, I’m pretty sure they have technology for that but that’s beside the point.) I remind you of this because shrinking visceral fat and building your abdominal muscles is a process — it takes a long time. Potentially a lot longer than it takes to reveal the lean muscles in your legs and arms.
- In my experience, abs come and go. Also in my experience, if I need to vastly cut back on things I enjoy (chocolate, waffles, nights out with friends) in order to regularly see my abs, it’s simply not worth it.
Keep reading for Christy’s tips on getting a 6-pack!
However, even with the best nutrition in the world, neglecting to train your abs (like every other muscle in your body) means you won’t build them. First and foremost, incorporating big compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, benchpress, and overhead press is so important! These lifts work multiple muscles at once and force you to contract your core in order to keep good form. This contraction alone will increase the strength of your core.
Next, your core is made up of four muscles, each important in their own way.
“The most well-known and prominent abdominal muscle is the rectus abdominis. A strong tendinous sheath called the “linea alba,” or white line divides the rectus abdominis down the middle, and three more horizontal tendinous sheaths give the muscle its familiar “washboard” look in very fit athletes.”
2. External Obliques:
“This pair of muscles are located on each side of the rectus abdominis. The muscle fibers of the external obliques run diagonally downward and inward from the lower ribs to the pelvis, forming the letter V.”
3. Internal Obliques:
“The internal oblique muscles are a pair of deep muscles that are just below the external oblique muscles.”
4. Transverse Abdominis
“Deepest layer of abdominal muscles; doesn’t help move spine, but does help with respiration and breathing”
Creating an ab routine that works all four muscles:
If your goal is a well-developed core then you need to incorporate movements that target all of these muscles! In order to do so, you need to combine: spinal flexion, spinal extension, spinal rotation, and spinal stability. I suggest picking one from each group and performing 10-20 reps of each, repeat this 3-4 times and you have a complete ab workout that is sure to strengthen and enhance your core!
Spinal Flexion: basic crunch, reverse crunch, stability ball/bosu crunch, sit ups, v-ups, etc.
Spinal Extension: back extension, supermans, bird dogs, etc.
Spinal Rotation: russian twists, woodchops, bicycle crunch, etc.
Spinal Stability:any plank variation.
Example Ab Routine: 4 Rounds
Russian twists x15 each side
- Maintain good form through all exercises.
- Contract your abs and pull your belly button to your spine with each rep.
- Slow and controlled – speeding through ab exercises won’t do any good.
- Make it just as much as part of your workout as you would while training legs, shoulders, etc. If you treat your abs as an afterthought, progress will be slow and minimal.
- Support your neck and head through movements, but do not pull on it during spinal flexion movements.
- Finally…cardio. You don’t have to do MORE cardio, but you do have to be smarter with your cardio! I’m sure you’ve heard the best way to burn fat is to increase your cardio, long duration, and slow to medium pace. While this fat loss method isn’t necessarily wrong, let’s be honest…it’s boring!
I strongly suggest performing high intensity interval (HIIT) workouts instead. HIIT is known for burning more calories in less time and having a higher rating of enjoyment. Want to spice it up even more? Add in an ab exercise during your recovery times. Like your fitness journey in general, there is no quick fix to six pack abs. They take hard work and consistency like any other muscle. If you maintain an 80/20 diet, train your abs, and incorporate HIIT, you will get there!