Chances are, if you’re into fitness or just improving your physical condition, at some point you’ve wanted to attain those sought after killer abs. Thing is, few have a plan on how to accomplish this goal. Whether it be endless crunches, cutting calories drastically, or doing ‘secret’ ab exercises, there seems to be many conflicting pieces of advice to achieving that 6 pack.
Whatever the reason may be, training and nutrition seem to go out of the window as if normal principles don’t apply to abs. Rather, ‘secrets’ are the key to making them finally make an appearance. Add in misinformation by all of the Instagram trainers selling ‘skinny teas’ and ‘waist trainers’, and you have a jumble of different opinions and an understandable confusion.
With this in mind, we’re going to cover 5 Hard Truths About Abs:
1 – Abs Aren’t Meant to Be Trained Daily
The thought much like your calves, since abs are activated daily in a variety of activities, they are high endurance, stubborn muscles and should be trained every day to give them stimulus.
This isn’t the case. They’re just like any other muscle and require targeted, intelligent training and adequate rest for them to grow and develop between ab training workouts. Though a lot of people know this deep down, for some reason this is a prime example of going against better judgment because it is a ‘secret’ to getting abs.
The reality is on a science level that while many have slow twitch (endurance) type muscle in their abs, they also have a larger percentage of fast twitch (explosive) muscle fibers and should be trained as such. A rep range of 8-15 reps per set and adequate rest for hypertrophy and progress is the best approach.
2- Training Your Abs Won’t Make Your Waist-Size Smaller
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions in training these days. Abs are a muscle just like any other in the body and when exposed to regular resistance exercise, they grow.
Don’t get us wrong, well-developed abs can be seen sooner and at a higher body fat since they ‘poke through’ a little more. So, the tradeoff is that while you do want to work your abs with resistance training to get them to ‘grow’ that alone won’t contribute to a smaller waist.
In this case, the key is learning to control your abs. Working to strengthen and control the portion of your abs that help to ‘girdle’ your abs in are the key and can be worked by practicing sucking in your core and flexing, resistance exercises that build core endurance and perhaps most of all, practicing good posture all help in this regard.
3 – Ab Training Alone Won’t Give You a Six Pack
The old saying is true…everyone has a 6 pack, however many simply can’t see it! You may see people that can plank for hours on end with perfect form, bang out crunches with perfect execution, do leg raises or an array of other circuit worthy ab movements. When all is said and done, their abs aren’t as pronounced as one might think.
To state what may seem like the obvious but often forgotten, this is because it comes down to your body fat. You can have a 6 pack with fantastic shape and development, but if you have a layer of fat covering it up, it’s all for not.
Get your diet on track, strip away the fat covering them up while combining them WITH ab training and watch the magic happen. Finally, you cannot spot reduce body fat, as fat loss occurs from your whole body. Doing extra crunches in hope of burning body fat is a moot point.
4- You Don’t Want to Over-Train Your Obliques
Yes, your oblique muscles are a powerful and strong muscle that can be functional. From throwing to climbing and other functional activities, having thick, powerful obliques is an advantage. Unfortunately, if an aesthetic waist with abs is your goal, it can work against you.
Obliques tend to grow for most and this can make that sought after ‘v-taper’ of the core disappear a bit when they get thicker. The end result is a blocky looking, thick waist. Yes, to some degree you want to develop obliques, as they will aid in tying together a strong, appealing core, but don’t overdo them as they will grow bigger and wider…which may not be ideal for you.
5 – You Need to Fix Your Insulin Sensitivity for Abs
Do you have your training and diet on point, yet no matter how strict you follow the plan and religiously do your cardio, you still seem to have a roll of fat covering your abs? Well, this may very well be what is called insulin resistance. While we cover this in greater depth in another article, in short if you have poor insulin sensitivity, your body is more likely to store and retain fat rather than burn it for energy. It also makes it harder to gain and maintain muscle as poor insulin sensitivity often times makes your body preferentially store excess calories as fat rather than build muscle.
So how do we fix this issue to help get your body back on track?
1) When eating a meal, opt for protein, some fiber and some fats before you have any carbohydrate. Research has shown that this can lower blood sugar levels significantly and prevent a significant rise, compared to eating the carbohydrates first.
2) Add in high quality fish oil on a daily basis. Research has shown that fish oil supplementation can have a significant effect on blood sugar levels and an even greater effect when combined with exercise.
3) Add in 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (with mother) at night before bed. Research has shown that this can help have lower morning blood sugar levels.
4) Utilize Berberine on a daily basis. Berberine has been shown to significantly improve insulin sensitivity and furthermore help with inflammation. Metabolic Nutrition ThermoKal contains a clinically validated dosage of Berberine to assist with insulin sensitivity along with powerful thermogenics to help increase metabolism and burn stubborn body fat.
In summary, there are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to getting that prized 6-pack. While there will always be conflicting information out there, you’re now on your way to taking the intelligent approach in your pursuit of that key element to a fit physique.