Day: June 13, 2012

Wait, what about my abs?

You’ve been dying for that 6 pack to sprout any day now. You’ve been doing 500 sit ups every morning and trying to get more done in the gym on fancy equipment but so far no abs. What’s the deal? Plus when you talk to your friend about what his training is like he hardly ever mentions tough ab workouts. Has the world forgotten about them? Has your body forgotten how to grow them? Why aren’t there millions of ab classes in this world, or, even at your gym?

First off, why don’t your 500 sit ups give you a 6 pack after a week or 3 months? When you strengthen muscle, any muscle, you increase muscle fiber and that’s how you get bigger stronger muscles. So when you are working overtime trying to workout your abs ultimately that is what you are trying to do. However, the problem with abs is that they are such small muscles as far as “girth” is concerned that they are just not very big (not like if you had huge biceps, those would pop out, not so true with your abs), so when you add “size” to them they do not get that much bigger. So 500 or 5 million, your abs are only going to get so big.

Second quality is key. If you can do 500 of anything (or usually more than 50 of anything non stop) than either one, you are doing it wrong, two, other muscles are helping, or three your range of motion is not to it’s fullest. So perhaps you need to re-evaluate your technique and make sure that you are doing things correctly. One main give a way is if you are going along and after 10 or 20 reps you no longer feel it in your abs. Instead you feel it in your back or your neck or your arms. This is a sign that you have lost either strength, or technique and now it’s become a different exercise all together. Fancy machines are usually the downfall of any ab work as most of the time you use momentum, body weight, or other muscles to move through the motion, and most of the time it is not a full range of motion. There is a reason why there aren’t trainers lined up in front of ab machines with their clients!

Why don’t more trainers focus just on abs? If you have a well rounded training routine you should be using your abs with every exercise you do. Plus a lot of the times when you see members with trainers jumping around or throwing a medicine ball, it is ab work, it just looks different because it’s more active. The more active the more muscles you can use at one time, the more real world the movement is, the more calories you can burn at one time, and the more explosive you can be. It’s fine to just work abs from time to time but if you have a good lifting program you use them with every lift and even more so with some specific movements even if to the outside eye it doesn’t look like an ab exercise.

Lastly, why don’t hours of abs equal rock hard abs? Well they might, it’s just that they are buried under layers of body fat. As humans (and animals alike) we store body fat in a few key places designed to protect our organs and keep us warm. So it’s unlikely that you will find someone with excess fat on their calves but finding someone with a beer belly or a muffin top is quite common. It’s just how our bodies were made. So if you expect to do tons of abs and magically burn away your abdominal fat and replace it with muscle I have some bad news for you… it’s not going to happen. We use our abs every day, for posture, for bending, for sitting, for all sorts of basic movements. So it’s not like you aren’t getting them worked out (especially if you add in active movements on top of that). It’s just that they are usually underneath a layer or more of fat and so there for you cannot see them. So ab away but until you lose body fat you won’t be showing them off to anyone anytime soon.

The moral of the story, abs are great but there is no sense in trying to sculpt a stomach without losing body fat first. So keep strong in your core but remember, if you really want to use your time wisely make sure to burn calories and work at more active movements that involve abs instead of laying on machines!

If you have any questions or want more guidance on great active ab exercises talk to our trainers!