Many active individuals become frustrated trying to chase the elusive six pack. You’ll often hear fitness, health and nutrition professionals say that “abs are made in the kitchen.” I cringe every time I hear that and for good reason. Their message is to diet your way down to a certain weight, at which point your magical shield of sculpted abs will appear! It doesn’t work that way. Trust me, I know.
When I weighed 240 pounds I was told that I needed to get into the 160s before I would have abs. I made it my mission to drop weight and I landed at about 163 pounds with a soft physique and nothing even close to what I would call a chiseled midsection.
If you want your abs to be strong and impressive then I can tell you that those abs are not made in the kitchen.
Here are 5 reasons why you may still be struggling to see your six pack…
1. Abs are muscles and you don’t have enough muscle.
You can lose as much weight as you want but without a block of muscle in your midsection, you may not be in a rush to take your shirt off at the beach. Seasoned lifters know how difficult it is to build muscle. Low-Calorie diets make it nearly impossible to build any significant muscle and ultimately leave you spinning your wheels. People who subscribe to these diets also experience lower energy, poor sleep, decreased performance, and potentially a bad relationship with food. Not a great formula for a strong-looking core.
2. You don’t do enough dedicated ab work.
That 30 second plank hold in your bootcamp circuit doesn’t count as dedicated ab work. I’m talking about a well thought out program with isolated movements to strengthen your core. It can be pretty simple: take a weighted exercise like a cable or rope crunch, combine it with two body weight exercises like reverse crunches and swiss ball crunches and voila…you have an isolated core circuit. Rest after the third exercise and repeat for 3-4 sets.
3. You don’t do enough volume or frequency.
When it comes to chasing gains, many people will spend hours working chest and arms at least 3 days per week, yet they won’t take the same approach with abs. If you want to develop a strong midsection, you need to push the volume and frequency. I like to take a 4 week training cycle and hammer my core for 5-6 days per week, then ease up for a deload week where the workload and intensity are reduced.
4. You aren’t doing enough overload exercises or heavy carries.
If the foundation of your training is based around squats, deadlifts, or Olympic lifts, that’s a great place to start. However, when you’re talking about getting bang for your buck, it doesn’t get much better than a traditional farmer’s walk. Being able to support a heavy load overhead is also important for building a dynamic core. Be sure to brace your abs as tight as possible before doing overload work and heavy holds/carries.
5. You struggle with form and abdominal recruitment.
You’ve probably heard of mind-muscle connection before but there’s a good chance you don’t fully grasp that concept when it comes to ab work. Being able to recruit your abs will make them more efficient at generating tension. This process starts in your brain (hence, mind-muscle connection). When doing your isolated ab work, start by contracting your abs and brace like you are about to get punched in the gut. You should use a slow and deliberate tempo to complete the repetition. The goal is to feel your abs working in as few reps as possible (not to bang out as many reps in the shortest amount of time). Utilizing isometric holds will help you grasp this concept quickly.
Combine these strategies to build the most functional and sexy-looking midsection possible!
6. BONUS: You Need A Program!
To make solving all of these problems 100x easier for you we created a specialized ab training program that will really push your limits and help make your six pack pop.
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