Gym Myths: Do You Really Need to Train Abs?
There are a few things us bro’s have on our mind when we start training for that Adonis demi-god muscular physique. We’re all in it for the V-shaped back, muscular python biceps and a sickening pump. We’d never miss legs day and right at the center of all this is sculpted, washboard abs.
But the question is: do you need to train abs?
Everyone knows what your core is important. Whether you’re bossing squats in the rack or shifting slabs on the deadlift platform, a rock-hard core is for more than just getting attention from the ladies at the beach. It gives you a strong foundation so you can put in a spectator-worthy performance in every workout.
Do you really need to train abs?
It’s right up there with bulging biceps – shredded abs top the wish list for many gym goers and is usually the stamp of the super-ripped. But if you’re shifting some legendary weights on the bar, is it really necessary to give them their own workout?
There’s no doubt that everyone who lifts needs a strong core. Not to get all philosophical on you bro, but a tree with a weak trunk will hit the deck in the wind – you don’t want to be that guy. Shore up your midsection with some carved-up marble to take the strain of your lifts.
Crafting that kind of muscle in your core is like any other muscle group. It takes grit, determination, and a whole lotta work. But to start with, you need to train smart.
First of all, let’s get this straight. It’s not all about sit-ups and planks. These kinds of isolated movements might get your fibers fired up like hellfire, but sticking to just this type of training isn’t the way you create a sickening six pack. It takes a combination of different exercises along with some smart know-how to create that killer core.
The question now isn’t do you need to train abs – cos you gotta have power in your core – but how do you train abs.
Luckily for you bros, we’ve got the answers.
How to train abs
Get ready for Spartan style, armor-plated, deeply etched abdominal perfection. We’ve got all the hints and tips, dos and don’t, f*ck yeah’s and hell no’s of building shredded abs. Read on to discover how it’s done.
Use your compounds
Step away from the ab isolation exercises. Alright, we’ll admit they do get a burn going, but this isn’t the way to washboard abs that bolster your lifts. Working them in isolation is like training your quads, but never working your other leg muscles – it aint gonna help your squat. To really get your muscles firing on all cylinders, work your deadlifts, squats, presses and even Olympic movements as well as your isolation exercises. They’ll work every element of your core in a functional way and help you lay down a serious slab of muscle and some genuine strength.
It’s not all about abs
Do not – we repeat – DO NOT train that sh*t every day. Your abs are just like any other muscle in your body, and if you work legs every day for a week, you wouldn’t be able to walk. Hell, you’d probably get rabdo. Give your abs a break, let them recover and break up your focussed workouts.
They also don’t need hours of your time. Just like any other muscle group, the key to building defined muscle is by adding heavy resistance in sets of about 8-20 reps. Grab some weights, smash out the same rep set pattern as you would for your squats and you’ll be done in about 15 minutes.
Avoid working just the plank
Lets talk about planks. People love them, but they are not the be-all and end-all of ab training.
If you’re after super defined, common-sense defying abs, you’ve got to say goodbye to working the plank and nothing but the plank. Your muscles have slow- and fast-twitch fibers and a plank will work both – but that doesn’t mean it’ll build muscle for shirt-splitting abs.
By staying still in a plank position, you’re not contracting the muscles and breaking them down so they come back bigger and better. Sure you’ll get a little stronger, but if you’re looking for head-turning, eye-popping abs, pair your isometric movements with contracting exercises to build muscle.
Don’t start with abs
As the name implies, your core is the epicentre of your body. If you start working abs before you drill your full workout, you’ll be fatigued and shaky AF when you try to add weight. Squats, deadlifts, presses and just about every other compound exercise relies on your abs to keep you steady, so don’t wreck them before you get a chance to hit the bar.
Where are my abs bro?!
Lets be real. We’ve said it a million times and we’ll say it again: you can’t out-train a bad diet. To quote the timeless proverb of the absolutely ripped demi-gods of ancient Greece: “Put down that beer bro, abs are made in the kitchen”. Let that sink in.
You might be smashing the ab workouts, but you’ll never see them unless you’re hitting the right diet and burning through that excess belly fat. One of the last muscles to appear when you’re shredding is your abs, so you need to work on that diet and perfect the fat loss.
Work all the angles
We hear you. You want a shredded six pack and you want it now. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and eye-popping, washboard abs aren’t built with just sit ups. To crack into the ripped abs club, you gotta work every angle.
Obliques, and rectus abdominis – heard of these guys? We didn’t mean to get all technical on you there bro, but each of these muscles makes up a part of your core and using the same exercises for every session isn’t enough to hit them all. Compound movements and a range of isolated options will grow those muscles and make your abs pop.
Ok thanks bro, but I’m still not sure. Should I train abs separately?
You know you need to have a strong core to achieve shredded beast status and you’ve read all about how to train abs. But do you as an individual need additional ab training?
Your compound movements, although indirectly, will train your abs. You might not feel the burn in the same way you would a specifically targeted workout, but trust us bro, they’re working hard. These types of exercises will hit your core at all angles and provide weight resistance for defined muscle growth.
If you feel like you’re experiencing weaknesses in your core when you lift, or you’re not getting the visual results you’re looking for, work in a couple of short ab workouts a week. Aim to add weight to these as much as possible and work a range of muscles, using different movements.
Ok bros, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few ab exercises. Add them into your workout routine to achieve that beach-worthy six pack and rock-solid core.
Ab roll outs
If you haven’t tried this yet you’re in for a stomach shattering treat. Grab an ab roller if your gym has one, if not a barbell with a plate on each side will do.
Kneel on the ground, whilst holding your roller
Lean forward slightly until your shoulders are over the roller
Engage your core and then roll it out in front of you, keeping your back strong and flat
Find the point where you back begins to sag and your form breaks. From then on only go up until this point
Use your abs to pull your arms back and your back upwards until you’re in your starting position
Cable wood chop
Ready to carve out some serious abs? Put down the weights for a second and get ready to dominate the cable machine. This man-making piece of kit provides constant resistance throughout a movement, so every muscle you use will be absolutely shredded. The twist in the wood chop will have your obliques screaming and pull in your abs too. The resistance throughout will help lay down a serious slab of rock hard muscle.
Set your cable to just above your head
Stand side on to it and hold the handle with both hands
Keep your hips facing forward and your back straight
Use your abs and torso to pull the cable across your body and down into a low position
Return to your start position
Jack knife sit-up
If you’re looking for a shredded set of six, the sit-up just won’t cut it. A jack knife sit-up will create killer contractions in your abdominal’s. Ones you’ve got the movement nailed down, take it up a notch and add a medicine ball into the mix. The extra weight will help you turn your stomach from flat to built.
Sit on the floor and hold a medicine ball between your hands
Keep your ankles together, bend your legs slightly and lift your feet so they’re slightly raised off the floor
Lean your torso back to the floor, touch the medicine ball to the floor above your head
From there, sit up, raising the medicine ball up in front of you
At the same time, raise your legs so you can touch your toes with the medicine ball in a closed V position.
Return to the start position, with feet raised and medicine ball above the head
There you go bro, sculpted abs aren’t far off. Your usual compound lifting routine should be enough to develop a head-turning six pack, but if you feel like strengthening your core, you can train smart with these tips and exercises.
If you’re putting in all the work but need a little help to achieve shredded definition, use a high-quality fat burner. The right supplement can help your abs pop like never before.
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