Most popular ab workouts have you performing endless repetitions of various abdominal movements – usually variations of crunches and situps.
These programs are based on a few lies about high-repetition ab workouts that don’t want to die:
#1 – Spot Reduction
Spot reduction is the idea that if you train a particular part of your body, it will get leaner. The problem with this idea is that when you workout, you train the muscle under neath the fat. Removing the fat requires burning calories and improving your diet. Without those two things, regardless of how many ab exercises you perform – your stomach won’t flatten.
Many of the old aerobic-based “flat stomach” DVD programs worked only because they were breaking a sweat and moving their body. The ab workouts did little to nothing to help them flatten their stomach. It was only the cardio element.
#2 – High-Rep Training
Muscles only do two things: increase in size or shrink. Even high-rep training build muscle. So, after hundreds of crunches and situps, if your stomach actually looks BIGGER, it’s because you’ve built some muscle underneath that muscle!
In addition, the way you’ve built the muscle isn’t in the best manner. Here’s the thing: if you train your arms with weights, what happens? They get bigger, but they also become rounds. So your abs…instead of making them flat, your making them bigger and rounder!
#3 – High-Frequency Training
Your ab muscles are no different then your biceps or your chest. If you train them hard, they will grow. If you train them often, they will grow.
What’s more is that in many compound lifts you perform, you’re already engaging your core! So not only are you getting ab work when lifting weights, kettlebells, or performing bodyweight workouts – but then you’re doing a double dose of ab work!
Why so much ab work?
It’s unnecessary! High frequency, high-rep, and spot reduction training is going to put you at risk of overuse injuries and exercise frustration.
Instead, perform high-tension difficult isometrics training.
An isometric contraction is when the tension on a muscle increases without the muscle moving. There are multiple benefits to isometrics, but the one I’m interested in is the idea of being able to get biggest effect in the shortest period of time.
Isometrics works especially for abdominals because it trains the abs according to their function: stability. It is your abs that hold you up all day, and assist you in nearly every function of your day.
So, unlike high-rep training, they won’t make your abs look bulky and round. What you’ll get is strong, lean, and cut abs – with dense, functional muscle. Your two-step ab training plan should be strengthen and build the ab muscle while burning the fat off through diet and cardio.
Todd Lamb shows you three effective isometric, high-tension ab exercises you can start to perform right away. Underneath the video I provide some suggestions for those who do not have access to a ring system:
So let’s go over the exercises:
- L-Sit, I’ve written a tutorial on how you can perform L-sits on the floor or parallel bar: L-Sit Training
- Ring rollouts. You can also do these with ab rollers, stability balls, or a barbell.
- Ring pushups. You can get a similar effect by placing your feet on top of a stability ball.