In the 1980s, the fashion for "chocolate bars", launched by people like Tom Cruise and Madonna, began to reach the general public. The hyper-muscular abs were no longer the preserve of die-hard bodybuilders. At the time of Arnold Schwarzenegger, some champions worked their abs for 30 minutes a day. On the other hand, some of the current professionals only work them during the period of preparation for a competition. This advice is addressed to almost all bodybuilding practitioners, from newcomers to contenders for Mr. Olympia, because many of us neglect the work of the abdominal strap too much. You have to target that part of the body, and we have solutions to help you give your deep muscles the attention they deserve. Discover 5 tips to finally see your abs.
Training the abs to finally see them
Tip 1: good focus
Some practitioners neglect their abs because they are convinced that their next diet will be enough to restore their abdominal straps to their full definition. For them, restriction of carbohydrates, cardio and crunch are as inseparable as steak and fries. Therefore, when their abs lack definition, they think it doesn't matter. Another cause of neglect: even for bodybuilders who follow a program for the abs, it comes down to low intensity sessions that they run randomly, at the end of their daily work. Since this work is not used for much, they have no qualms about missing a session. So those are two of the main reasons why a lot of bodybuilders neglect the workout of abs. Now here are two great reasons to pay attention to them. First of all, it is imperative to strengthen the sheathing muscles: indeed, these play a preponderant role in mass movements such as deadlift and squat. Then intensive sessions, but limited in time are not enough to develop the muscle mass of the abs. On the contrary, you have to make them work all year long if you want to make them fat – or at least preserve their muscle mass.
- As with other muscle groups, set yourself goals – be it the aspect you want to give your abs or specific goals for reps and resistance.
- Twice a week, dedicate your workout exclusively to your abs, as you do for other muscle groups. It is best to cram your abs program before your cardio session, provided you do it outside of your strength training. You can also devote a specific session to them at home.
- Do eight to twelve sets for the rectus abdominis and three to five sets for the obliques.
- If you're in a hurry, do your exercises for abs in supersets with movements for other muscle groups, or perform all of the exercises as a giant series without recovering between exercises.
- In order to avoid the endless monotonous and demotivating series of crunches, give intensity to your sessions for the abs. Which brings us to our next tip.
Tip 2: Sufficient intensity
Think about the most effective series you did during your last chest session. Now answer the same question for the abs. If you are inexhaustible on the bench press and incline bench press, but don't know what to say for crunch and leg press, you deserve a zero point. Don't panic, few bodybuilders pass this test successfully. As a rule, the sessions for the abs lack intensity, but that is not all: very few are even aware of this lack of intensity. On the contrary, we perform an incalculable number of long series, while we would never dare to use this method for the pectorals or another muscle group.
- The goal should be to promote muscle development, not to tone them. The risks of seeing the rectus abdominis develop excessively are about the same as the chances of making a fortune: almost zero. As for women who fear that the free loads will make them look "too masculine", know that this kind of transformation is a little more complicated than that. Train for weight gain. Firmness will come after.
- As a general rule, set yourself sets of 10 to 15 reps. When you can exceed 15 reps, increase the resistance.
- Abs machines are often the perfect way to increase resistance.
- Instead of lengthening the streaks or increasing the load, the intensity can be increased with techniques such as supersets and giant streaks.
Tip 3: Targeted work
In high school, the abs sessions are limited to crunches or other calisthenic exercises, which explains why so many bodybuilders spend their time working the hip flexors and stretching the erector muscles of the spine by botching the technique of execution instead of actually contracting their abs.
- For the big abdomen, prefer the crunch, either with free loads, or on machine.
- Respect a slow and regular cadence, focusing on the abs.
- All the exercises for the abs are movements of small amplitude: the contraction is therefore essential. Hold each contraction for one or two seconds and tighten the abs.
Tip 4: Work the top and bottom of the abs
Most bodybuilders work more particularly, if not exclusively, the upper part of the rectus – the famous chocolate bar. In reality, this is only one of the four abs areas. The other three areas are the lower right (which extends from the chocolate bar to the groin), the external obliques (on each side of the central area) and the transverse abdomen (located under the right and obliques). The lower part of the abs is often overlooked because – at least when you are dressed – it is less visible than the upper part. If bodybuilders generally refuse to work obliques, it is for fear of enlarging their waist. As the transverse is invisible, we often act purely and simply as if it did not exist.
- The lower abs play an important role in strengthening the abs-lumbar area and to give this area that connects the trunk to the lower body a powerful appearance. The bent leg lift and the suspended leg or knee lift allow this area to be mobilized.
- The obliques are also essential for strengthening the lumbar abs area: they stabilize the upper body, and when they are perfectly developed and well cut, they catch the eye. The lateral crunch and the machine rotation allow the obliques to work. The width of the waist depends mainly on the width of the pelvis. However, if you are concerned about overdeveloping the obliques, do sets of 20 to 30 reps.
- The transverse abdomen is not visible, but it is essential for good body posture. It is also him who allows to return the belly. You can work this area anytime and anywhere by moving the navel as far as possible towards the spine and staying 10 seconds in this position. Repeat the movement up to 10 times.
Tip 5: char the fat
Many bodybuilders think that by doing enough crunches, they will be able to forge abs with chiseled relief. Even if recent studies prove that it is possible to act directly on rebel areas, the ideal way to eliminate adipose tissue and sculpt your abs is to exercise simultaneously with diet and cardio.
- Change your diet to lose fat. Eliminate trans fats and minimize saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. Choose lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
- Do 45 to 60 minutes of cardio after training or early in the morning.
- Seek to build abs muscle mass, and the more you lose your excess weight, the more visible your new muscles will become.
- Save time for two full abs per week.
- Perform sets of 10 to 15 reps and seek to lengthen the sets or increase the resistance. Increase the intensity by making supersets or giant series.
- Train your abs slowly, focusing on the contraction.
- Train the four areas: the upper abs, the lower abs, the obliques and the internal abs.
- Follow a diet and do cardio to get rid of adipose tissue; seek to develop muscle mass.