I recently picked up mountain biking and I am completely hooked! Iâve already been riding 21 times in the past 16 days and have covered well over 500 miles. My abs play a huge role in all of these rides. They really help my stability when Iâm smashinâ down a hill or on a hairy climb on the edge of a mountain.
Lately you’ve been learning about the major muscle groups and the most effective way to work them. This time you’ll learn about your stomach – AKA abdominal muscles or “abs.”
You’ll also hear people refer to your abs as part of your “core.” These core muscles are important because they help you with spinal stabilization. Â When you’re in the gym, a strong core also helps you perform certain major exercises, like squats and cleans. To keep it real, your abs get worked in nearly every exercise you perform.
This means two things. First, you only need to do a few ab-specific exercises each week, since your core is getting worked on when you’re doing other exercises. Secondly, however, if you’re having problems doing the big lifts (like squats), you may want to spend some extra time strengthening your core.
If you’re shooting for that “beach body” look with the ripped abs (washboard stomach or six pack), then you’ll want to pay close attention to this lesson. So let’s start by clearing up some commonly held misconceptions.
Here are two things you need to know about getting great abs:
1) Abs are made in the kitchen. Your diet mostly determines what your abs will look like. If you eat too many calories or eat fatty or sugary foods, you’re going to end up with excess fat on your abs… meaning you won’t see that six pack.
Point is, exercise alone won’t make those abs come out. You need to get your nutrition in check.
2) Abs should be worked like any other muscle. You’ve probably seen those commercials where people do endless crunches trying to get a six pack. Let me tell you this now: It doesn’t work. Just as doing 500 bicep curls a day won’t get you the arms you want, doing 500 ab crunches won’t make your washboard stomach magically pop out.
So all of this leads to the question: How should you train your abs? And the answer is that you should train them like you do any other muscle. That means working them out a couple times per week, doing two to three exercises, three sets per exercise, and 8-12 reps per set.
Now, this means that you shouldn’t just be doing regular bodyweight crunches, unless you’re just getting started. Instead, this means you need to work your abs with weights. For example, you can do crunches, except hold a heavy plate to your chest while you’re doing your crunches.
TIP: Some people find that they can’t hold a heavy enough weight on their chest to where they can only do 8-12 reps. If this is your problem too, then hold as heavy a weight as you can handle and work to failure. Or, you might ask someone to help by pushing on you for added resistance.
Here are some of the best ab exercises:
Lying leg hip raise (weighted)
Incline sit ups (weighted)
Side bends (weighted)
Good Mornings(weighted or non weighted)
Hanging knee Raises
That’s it for this time. Next time you’ll learn about back exercises!
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