Want to build abs? Who doesn’t? That seems to be the goal of most. But, not all know how to do it. We give you the info you need to succeed with this abs circuit in building a six pack fast!
Everybody wants them. They are a visual representation of strength in those who are ultra fit.
What are they?
We’re talking abs!
When you’re able to see them on either sex, you know that particular person is working hard for their body.
Do you ever wonder how much time they devote to developing abs or what exercises these fitness gods and goddesses do?
Well, here’s a guide to help you develop abs lightning fast. Using 10 moves at 10 reps each, you can develop your abs for summer show and tell.
Are you ready?
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Understanding Your Core Muscles
Many people immediately think of crunches when their mind turns to building your perfect abs. The truth is that crunches are great, but you must work all the muscles of your core and from multiple angles to sculpt beautiful abs.
Stuart McGill, Ph.D. of the University of Waterloo in Canada conducted a study on core training in 2010. In it, he stated that “The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the muscles of the abdominal wall, the back extensors, and the quadratus lumborum. Also included are the multijoint muscles, namely, latissimus dorsi and psoas that pass through the core linking it to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms.”
In this article, we are focusing on training many of the muscles that make up your core.
Glad you asked! Here are the muscles you will be training to have well-developed abs:
- Rectus abdominous – It is usually the focal point of our stomachs, the part we want to show off in the summer, the sexy washboard muscles. The rectus abdominous is the long, paired muscle in front of the abdomen. It forms what we commonly think of as our abs or a six pack.
- Transversus abdominis (TVA) – When you suck in your gut as a hottie walks by, you are engaging your TVA muscles. The transversus abdominis is a layer of the front and side abdominal wall. It is found deep in the body below the internal oblique muscles.
- External abdominal oblique – The frame or parenthesis you see around the sides of your six pack are your obliques. The external abdominal obliques run along the sides of your body and help it to rotate.
- Internal abdominal oblique – The internal oblique muscles lie below the external oblique in the abdominal wall and above the TVAs. They work with your external obliques to form the coveted V-taper, frame or parenthesis – whatever you choose to call them.
- Hip flexors – When you do leg lifts or full-range sit-ups, you engage your hip flexors. These core muscles help bring your torso and legs together. Len Kravitz, Ph.D. of the University of New Mexico calls hip flexors “the villains of abdominal training” because the goal of abs training is to limit use of the hip flexors and engage abdominals. Those with weak abdominals often engage the hip flexors more to assist during abs exercises thus diminishing the purpose of the movement. That is why hip flexors get the bad rap.
- Gluteus maximus – Yes, your posterior powerhouse. Your butt is the mightiest muscle in your body. It’s the main extensor or straightening muscle of the hip and it is needed for powerful core strength. McGill states, “Given the anatomic and biomechanical synergy with the pelvis, gluteal muscles may be considered to be essential components as primary power generators.”
Your abdomen basically keeps your whole body in line and functioning properly.
Have you heard anyone call the midsection of your body your trunk?
Think of your trunk, or core, like you would the trunk of a tree. It provides stability, yet it is flexible enough to allow mobility at the limbs. You need a strong core for pretty much everything.
I know that you want beautiful abs for vanity reasons.
But strengthening your core will also make your daily tasks easier. It will improve your athleticism and a stout core will protect you from injury. That is why it’s so important to focus on core strengthening exercises for your best abs.
Let’s get started!
This Is For Those Who Are Just Getting Started
You can stay flat on your mat for all of the following exercises. By staying put, you will make the best use of your time. Also, you will keep your abs engaged at all times, unlike when you move from station to station and get to relax.
Complete 10 reps of each of the following exercises:
- Reverse Crunch
- Hip Lift
- Captain’s Chair Hanging Leg Lift
- Hollow Hold – hold for 10 seconds, three reps
- Beginner’s Side Bridge
- Double Leg Circle
- Modified V-up
- Birddog – hold for 10 seconds for three reps or do sets of five on each side
Here Are A Few Pointers
During crunches, only lift your torso to a 30 to 45-degree angle off the floor. The American College of Sports Medicine states, “Crunches with the hips and knees flexed may be more effective in conditioning the abdominals than straight knee sit-ups.”
Make sure all movements are completed with correct form and that you are not speeding through the exercises. The motions should be controlled and you should focus on the muscle contractions. For certain exercises, you can put your hands behind your head to cradle it, but no chin in your chest!
Are You Ready To Advance To The Abs Circuit?
The human body is great at adapting, and if your body feels no change in your workout routine, it does not see the need to grow, build muscle or change. You don’t want to get into that type of situation. The simple solution is to switch up your routine every two or three weeks and how to build abs.
Here are a few simple ways that you can alter the prior workout:
- You could change the order of the exercises in the routine. Sure, it sounds too simple. Guess what? It works.
- For crunches, reverse crunches and hip lifts, you could use an incline bench to make the exercises more challenging.
- Turn hollow holds into hollow rocks or hold for a longer period of time.
- Add resistance or weights to exercises like the crunches and v-ups.
- Add two to five more reps to each exercise or add more sets.
For Those Who Already Think They’re Bad, You Should Know
Before you try to overload your core, make sure you have been working out with proper form on all of these exercises and have them mastered. Form, above all else, is the key to optimal abdominal development.
If you are still convinced you’re already a bad ass, get on this routine. Complete 10 reps of each of the following exercises:
- Hanging Leg Raise
- Weighted Knee Raise (use a dumbbell between your feet)
- Hanging Wiper
- Half Kneeling Reverse Cable Chop
- Pull-Up L-Sit
- Dragon Flag
- Medicine Ball V-up
- Kettlebell Suitcase Carry
- Standing Barbell Roll-Out
- Barbell Floor Wiper
Anything from hanging is going to challenge you. If your core is already solid, these exercises should either help with maintenance or with the further development and thickening of your abs.
How Often Should You Train Abs?
You can train your abs every day. It’s the one muscle that you rarely fatigue. However, daily is not necessary. Aim to specifically target your core at least three to five days per week for quick development. You will not need to spend more than 20 to 25 minutes for your abs circuit.
Keep in mind that when you lift, you engage your core more than you think. Almost all lifting requires you to use your core as your stabilizing mechanism. However, during this time your core is worked as a secondary muscle group, so adding days with core-specific training is the best practice for optimal core development.
This Is When To Do Abs Work
As mentioned, your abs are used in almost all lifting, and lifting is important for the development of abs just as core-specific exercises are. You should be training your core with multiple methods, but save your abdominal routine for very last.
If you complete your abs training first and you fatigue them, it may weaken your lifting experience.
You need your core to stabilize you for lifting.
How To Actually See Your Sexy Six Pack
So, you’ve built your abs, but where are they?
There is more to this equation.
Everyone already has abs.
They are there!
You may have fantastic abs already, but they could be hiding under a cozy layer of fat. Some people believe that doing 5,000 crunches per day will get them the v cut abs they desire, that they will eventually just show up. Of course, they are disappointed five months later when they can feel them, but they can’t see them.
Why does this happen?
Katch et al. conducted a groundbreaking study in 1983 on the effect of sit-ups on adipose cell size and adiposy, or, in layman’s terms, fat. They found that “the conventional sit up exercise does not preferentially reduce adipose cell size or subcutaneous fat thickness in the abdominal region to a greater extent compared to other adipose sites.” While you’re building and shaping your abs through core-specific training, your abs will remain hidden unless you have lean genes or you are dieting appropriately.
But, that’s not all. Along with core training, you will have to maintain your cardio routine in order to see your abs. Aerobic exercise is what targets and diminishes body fat so that you can see your abs. You will need a minimum of 30 minutes a day for at least four days during the week. And, it needs to be vigorous.
Remember: Abs/Core training + Diet + Cardio Training = Fab Abs That Show
Aerobic exercise is what targets and diminishes body fat so that you can see your abs. Try swimming, cycling, running and HIIT training to burn off the fat. To build abs, to have them and hold them, and use them as an actual washboard, you must be regimented in all components of fitness.
Simple. Gym Junkies offers a free three-week diet and exercise program that you should sign up for to help you with all areas of fitness. Plus, Gym Junkies has many great articles that will guide you through diet and different types of cardio training.
Abdominals or core-specific training is important to building stellar abs quickly. Having a strong core will improve your overall strength in the gym, balance, posture, as well as functionality in daily activities and sports. That’s not all. A strong core helps prevent injury. The icing on the cake is that your body will look amazing when you show off your rock solid abs during the warm months.
For most people, that is truly what it’s all about!
No one ever said it would be easy to have show-stopping abs. With that being said, it is possible. Remember that you must take part in the two other important parts of fitness, diet and cardio. You can’t have abs without these. When you finally reveal your washboard stomach to yourself and the rest of the world via selfies, you will feel like you truly rank with the other fitness gods and goddesses.
Start today and be ready for beach season!
By Sarah Chadwell, CPT
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