BODYBUILDING SECRETS REVEALED #5 Better Ab Training

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Abdominals, Abs
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BODYBUILDING SECRETS REVEALED #5  6 tips for better ab training

By Steven Milner 

Tip 1 Don’t eat too many fast-digesting carbohydrates. Fast carbs spike insulin, which affects fat-burning and fat storage, particularly on top of your abs. Carbs to limit are white bread, white potatoes, pop, sports drinks, table sugar, etc. Instead, try whole grain, rye or “best of both” breads, porridge, sweet potatoes, fruits, leaf and root vegetables, brown rice and so on. One exception here: You can eat fast-digesting carbs right after your workout when they’ll be put to work boosting muscle recovery and growth.

Tip 2 Don’t neglect isometrics or continuous tension techniques, this means flexing a body part, in this case the abs, and holding that position for an extended period of time (a bit like a bodybuilder posing). To do this, tense your abs for 6–10 seconds, then relax for 6–10 seconds. Repeat for 10–20 sets. This is a great way to hit your abs while sitting in your car, on your couch or at your desk. I’ll be posting a technique specifically aimed at flattening a tummy (not just for ladies) that uses this principle in isolation. Transverse abdominal crunches coming soon.

Tip 3 Don’t neglect your breathing. When performing an ab exercise such as the crunch, exhale when you reach the finish or top position. This is important because it helps you better contract your abs. Contracting the abs in the position of greatest resistance for a second or two will maximize muscle-fibre involvement.

Tip 4 Generally we train in specific rep ranges, such as 8–10 or 12–15 reps per set. You can and should train your abs in this rep range and add weight (i.e. a plate held across your chest) to keep the progressive resistance going. Many people worry that if they do weighted ab exercises, their abs will become thick and blocky. Abs are muscles just like biceps, so they need definition and separation to stand out, try weighted movements in the 8–10-rep range for optimal ab development.

Tip 5 Don’t do abs first. Some trainers recommend that you begin your workout with ab training to make sure you don’t skip it. This isn’t always true. Recent studies have found that when trained lifters did abs before legs in a squat workout, they completed fewer reps of squats than when they trained abs after the squat workout. This is because the abs, obliques and transverse abdominis work together to stabilize the core, which allows you to produce greater force. Training abs first fatigues them, which lessens your core stability and weakens your base, as well as your ability to generate force.

Tip 6 Don’t train abs always at the same speed, change up your rep speed from slow and smooth to fast and explosive, allowing you to utilize more fast-twitch muscle fibres to build more power, strength and size. According to new research from Spain, scientists tested the muscle activity of subjects’ rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and spinal erectors while they did crunches at rep speeds of four seconds, two seconds, 1.5 seconds, one second or as fast as possible. They reported in a 2008 issue of the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research that as the rep speed increased, so did the activity of all four muscles. The greatest boost occurred in subjects’ external obliques, which were hardly involved in the crunch at slower speeds but increased by more than six times at the fastest speed. So don’t fail to vary your rep speed. The fast reps will help recruit more muscle fibres in the midsection and turn the crunch into an excellent oblique exercise.

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