Recently we were watching a Facebook live video about an ab workout class. Truth be told we were critiquing because the instructor had the top of their yoga pants rolled down so low we first thought it might be a pole dancing workout. Ok sarcasm aside it looks like ab obsession is here to stay so lets take a solid look.
We have tried to explain in the past that the only possible way you will end up seeing a six-pack is by achieving quite low body fat levels. Furthermore, doing ab exercises may tighten up your abdominal muscles but they will remain hidden because there is simply no such thing as spot reduction of fat.
Now once you accept the above two factors you can get to the real business of attacking your abdominals. We know that whole classes are dedicated to ab workouts because people find this a tough muscle to control and target. The first key is to realize that the abs, contrary to how it can look and feel, don’t create much motion. By this we mean the muscle contracts quick through a very short-range basically only flexing your spine about 30 degrees. This can make feeling your abs completely hit or miss in that you can create a bend in your spine with muscles like your hip-flexors and almost totally miss your abs if they don’t fire from the ‘get-go’.
What you want to do, to really learn how to work your abs, is avoid starting quick. You want to force yourself through the learning curve of contracting your abs as best as possible BEFORE you start moving. This is referred to as a static muscular contraction and forces you to use your abs and not unload most of the work to other muscles like the hip-flexors
How does this work? Think of tensing your muscles before someone gives you a poke or even punch in the belly. This static tension is what you want to achieve the moment before you move whether it be crunch, leg raise or what have you. Add to this not losing the tension as you reverse your movement and go back to the start (what we call the negative or eccentric part of each rep) and you will exponentially improve your ab work.
Next post we will demonstrate actual key movement patterns and exercise choices but actually learning to start with your abs is more important. No matter how fancy an ab move you try if you don’t start by placing the tension mostly on your abs the result will be lacklustre. Thus we strongly suggest practicing statically contracting your abs anytime and make sure you get good at tensing them prior to any ab movement.
Be well, be strong,
Andrew and Tierney