Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be on a local radio station again. I took one of my many all-star female clients, Amber, with me and we discussed the critical role that strength training plays for women achieving the bodies they want. I was really pleased with it and think it’s definitely worth a listen. If you missed it, check it out here. Scroll back to yesterday (2/27) and click on the replay button for “Treasure Valley Live”. The portion of the show I was on starts at 22:30. Do it. Do it now.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people talking to me about the elusive six-pack, only to have them surmise that what they really need to do is more crunches. Yup, if they only did more crunches they would be akin to Michelangelo’s David.
Sadly, due to a ton of misinformation and no fault of their own, people often think this is the case. But it’s not. At all. In fact, crunches aren’t even necessary to achieve a lean, sculpted mid-section.
Here are a few common mistakes people make when tying to whittle away at their middle.
NOT CHANGING EATING HABITS
The bottom line is that no amount of exercise is going to give you a six-pack if you have too much fat on your stomach. Visible abs are not the product of a lot of abdominal exercises, they are the product of having low enough body fat that you can see them.
Getting your body fat to a low percentage requires a diet that consists mostly of whole, natural foods. Fast food, processed foods and sugary drinks are not conducive to helping those see the light of day.
NOT LIFTING HEAVY ENOUGH
The abs play an important role in stabilizing the body. When you have heavy weight on your back during a squat, or are pulling heavy weight off the ground, your abs have to brace incredibly tight to keep your body from folding in half. Simply put, the heavier the weight, the harder your abs have to work.
People often use less than optimal weight, resulting in less than maximum stimulation of the abs.
In short, lift heavy!
NOT USING UNILATERAL TRAINING
Unilateral training is simply working one leg or one arm at a time. Examples would be lunges, step ups, single arm bench press, etc. By loading the body unevenly, you force the abs to brace tightly to keep you stable. This is different than simply lifting heavy. Uneven loads require anti-lateral flexion, which simply means avoiding leaning over to the side. This is an often overlooked function of the abdominals as well as an over looked component to training the abs thoroughly.
NOT TRAINING THE ABS IN DIFFERENT PLANES OF MOTION AND STABILIZATION
As I hinted at above, the abs serve several different purposes. People tend to train them solely through spinal flexion (think crunches). How ever the primary role of the abs is to stabilize the torso against various types of forces. This is why things like Pallof Presses (anti-rotation training) and Barbell Roll-outs (anti-extension training) are critical to developing a strong mid-section.
In addition to various types of stabilization exercises, moving through different planes of motion, such as rotary based movements are just as important for the abdominals.
Making the above changes to your training programs can have a great impact on the strength, definition and visibility of your abs. So get to it!