5 Steps for a stronger core
Building your abs requires more than just nailing the best exercises. Here's how to build up your six-pack musculature while chiseling your midsection!
Sun's out, shirt's off. And with that, your abs are either making you the center of attention, or simply part of the group that's envious of the guy—or gal—who's soaking up more than just the rays. It may sound silly, but I've seen it happen at the beach or pool countless times!
YOU DON'T HAVE TO TRAIN ABS EVERY DAY TO STIMULATE THEM
When you train other muscle groups like legs and back, you indirectly involve you abs, so your core gets a great deal of secondary stimulation. Of course, you only get that ab activation if you're doing exercises like squats, deadlifts, and standing military presses, so never rely solely on machine work!However, you don't need to train your abs every day. Your abs are a muscle group just like any other, and they require post-workout recovery time. While your abs do have a higher degree of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which means they have a higher endurance threshold, you'll still reap the best results by allowing them to fully recover between workouts.
TRAINING ABS DOESN'T DECREASE BODY FAT AROUND YOUR MIDSECTION
You can do crunches until you're blue in the face, but they won't significantly "spot reduce" the body fat around your midsection. There's no way to selectively reduce your body fat; you need to bring your overall body-fat levels down, which means watching your total caloric intake and burning more cals through exercise.
YOUR ABS WON'T BE VISIBLE UNTIL YOU REDUCE YOUR BODY FAT
Unlike many other skeletal muscle groups, you need to carry low body fat to reveal your abs, independent of how many exercises you do for them. Reducing your body fat requires you to either burn more calories or consume fewer calories. Genetics also play a role in body-fat levels, making it easier for some people and more difficult for others.
A VISIBLE SIX-PACK DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN YOU'RE HEALTHY.
Six-pack abs can be one sign that a person is maintaining a healthy weight, especially given the incidence of obesity today, but it doesn't automatically mean they're healthy.I know a number of individuals with six-packs who are unhealthy because they under-eat or consistently perform excessive cardio. Finding a balance is key to not just getting your six-pack but maintaining it.
ANYONE CAN HAVE A SIX-PACK—OR AT LEAST A FOUR-PACK
Metabolic abnormalities aside, I believe this to be true, but it requires immense dedication and consistency both inside and outside the gym. Keep in mind, though, that the overall shape of your six-pack is determined by genetics.You may have an 8- or 10-pack—yes, I've seen them—or just a four-pack depending on the genetic cards you've been dealt.
EATING FOR A SIX-PACK
It's difficult to follow a mass-gain eating plan and expect your abs to become more visible. Sure, you can make your abs stronger through training, but more than any other muscle group, six-pack abs are made in the kitchen.In fact, most physique athletes generally follow a calorie-restricted diet or one in which they eat enough calories to maintain their current condition. It's the exceedingly rare individual who can add lean body mass and chisel his or her six-pack at the same time.Keep a close eye on your diet. Instead of decreasing everything you're eating, it's smart to actually increase protein intake when on a calorie-restricted nutrition plan. This will help you stay satiated and spare your hard-earned muscle mass.