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Everybody I speak to from clients through to Personal Trainers in North London, at some time or other, want great looking abs. Well, what are ‘great looking’ abs?
Most people would agree that a 6 pack would constitute as the quintessential perfect looking abs, but are they?
Having the sort of abs your Gran could wash her draws on, aren’t necessarily great functioning abdominals. Yes, they look great and will turn any girls head but will they support you in times of need? What we really need to be concern about is the functionality of these muscles. Not the aesthetic and superficial look, but rather the muscles ability to help you perform better.
In this post I’m going to describe what are the key methods to functional abs and how to achieve them, also I’m going to set about by putting myself through an experiment to see whether some sites claims of a 6 pack in short time periods really do work.
No matter what websites you visit and books you buy there isn’t a quick way to achieve ‘wash board’ abs. The 12 week programme or equivalent that many fitness websites abdicate simply do not work and have no science or research to back up their claims. You may very well develop stronger abdominals but to achieve the kind of results they are suggesting just isn’t realistic.
As with anything in this world you have to work very hard to achieve the results seen in the media through mens magazines, TV and film. These are many months, sometimes years of work combined with a sensible nutritional programme. Remember, the people you see on the front of magazines with perfect looking abs are models. Models that have a lot of time on their hands and the money to dedicate themselves to training many times a week and to seek the very best advise. They have to acquire the so called ‘wash board’ abs to enable them to work and earn money because the general public demand this superficial look, and this is what sells magazines. Also there is not only ab work being done here, but much more behind the scenes.
Needless to say, it is very important to have strong and well developed abs but with crunches and sit ups you aren’t going to get very far. Many a time have I witnessed gym members doing countless situps on their fit ball in the vain hope that they will develop the elusive 6 pack. These exercises are great in small quantities but 100’s and 100’s a week are only going to thicken and shorten your abdominal muscles, tighten your chest and increase the risk of a lumber injury.
There are several questions that need to be addressed when starting training the abdominals.
What function do the abdominals play?
The main job of the abdominals are movement, organ and visceral protection. The abs stabilize the body from external forces and allow us to rotate. They do not, whoever, allow the body to flex forwards this is the job of gravity and the erector spine.
All 3 planes of motion?
We should be making sure we cover all planes of motion sagital, frontal and transverse with our movement. For fully functioning abs this is the key to intelligent and results based training.
Why am I isolating?
Isolation can be an effective way to train, but for many peoples lives this is simply not an appropriate way to train all the time and can be counter productive. We don’t walk like robots so why train like one. Full compound exercises are effective and both should be combined together for greater efficiency.
Isometric and stabilization?
These two methods of training the abdominals will certainly hit the spot. If you consider gymnasts physiques who have the most well built and strongest bodies of the sporting world, their abdominal training consists of both these methods.
I have researched many ab exercises over the years and none are more effective then the ones that I have collated from several sources (see below) The reason these exercises are most effective, in my opinion, is that you don’t rely on having to pull in your abdominals too consciously. Yes, you still have to brace but the very nature of the exercises contracts the abdominal complex almost involuntary. This has helped many of my clients who find it difficult to brace their abdominal wall or when it is difficult to detect if a clients has sufficient strength in these muscles due to high levels of subcutaneous fat covering this area.
So I’m going to use myself as a guinea pig and perform my abdominal exercise routine, which I’m calling ‘Renegade Abs’, every other day and at least 4 times a week to see what the results I get over a 12 week period. My first session was yesterday and I aim to train every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
I will take a picture of my abdominals every week and I’ll post my workouts and extra training so there is a much broader overview of the journey to ‘washboard’ abs!