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September 12, 2011 at 9:38 AMComments: 3 Faves: 0

Quest for amazing abs and why most ab workouts are DUMB

By Dayton from SLN More Blogs by This Author

Ohhh....why can't I look like that?

When you see that guy walking down the beach with super defined abs, 2 things generally come to our mind:  1, how jealous we are of him. And 2, we think that he must really get into his ab workouts!  The concept that someone has to do copious amounts of crunches to get the ever-so-coveted 6 pack is rather distorted.  A lot of factors come into play!

The first thing is not really our fault, but we have to live with it regardless.  It's genetics.  Our DNA tells our body its structure and how to respond to physical activity,  Not to mention the effect on our metabolic rate. (Dr. Chamberlain on metabolism!!)  So we aren't going to change the way we're wired but we can control every other variable.  Personally, I feel that having a defined midsection is in reach with just a few tweaks in my lifestyle and a bit of determination, because I'm 20 and enjoy living actively!

Things we can control

We can control our diet, how much we exercise, and how we exercise.

Diet: Obviously 2 things need to happen to have the amazing defined stomach. There needs to be no fat covering the muscle, and there needs to be muscle for the fat not to cover.  This is why diet is going to be huge.  Obviously the simple sugars and empty carbs that I randomly snack on will have to go.  They need to be replaced with complex carbs and high quality proteins.  So maybe some almonds?  I like me some almonds!

I'm trying to keep the diet part as simple as I can by not consuming a lot of food that will cause fat gain. I'll replace them with foods that encourage muscle growth.

How much we exercise: I think this is the 2nd key.  To achieve the results I want, more time definitely needs to be  spent in the gym.  Balancing this between work, sleep, and every other day-to-day thing will be difficult.  Hopefully it's not impossible, by lifting smarter I won't need to sacrifice as much time.

How we exercise: This is going to be a major change for me in the coming weeks.  I'm not going to bash all ab workouts because some really do help, but that shouldn't be the focus.  In the gym, I need to stay trim and build muscle.  I've read that losing weight and gaining muscle simultaneously isn't possible, but I'd be willing to challenge that because the weight I would need to lose is so minuscule.  So I definitely need to stick to my already established running routine.

How I lift is going to be super crucial!  Pretty much ever since high school ended, all I've been doing is little exercises.  By little, I mean that they target a rather specific and small muscle group.  I'm going to (re)introduce to my body to the HUGE workouts.  Since I can only make it to the gym 3 times a week, I'll be focusing on squats, bench pressing, and power cleans as core workouts.  You might be asking, "What do any of those workouts have to do with targeting your abs?"  GOOD QUESTION!  But if you look at the motions in each core exercise, you're working way more than just 1 muscle group, and it always involves your abdominal muscles.

How the HUGE exercises affect you

Whilst squatting, you balance an astronomical amount of mass on your shoulders.  To maintain good form, every muscle in your body, like your abs, labors away.  When bench pressing, you use you abdominal section to push your body down and the bar up away from you.  Power cleans are a crazy explosive exercise!  Your abs are used to throw the bar into the air and then again to stabilize it in your hands.

When you do these HUGE exercises, you're increasing the muscles everywhere in your body, and your stomach muscles can't help but be affected.  This isn't to say targeting you abs is a bad idea, just that it needs to be done only minimally.  

So wish me luck! And HAPPY LIFTING!

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  • Swiss ball works wonders for the core. As much as those infrastructure workouts touch the core, the Swiss ball makes you balance while doing your workout, it is definitely one of the best ways to tone. Defined abs also have a lot to do with the amount of water in your body, it can be a dangerous line to walk for some people.

  • I agree with E.M Wollof I love using stability ( ball, Bosu) equipment to help the ab area. I am no bikini model but most people looking at me don't believe I have had 4 kids( including a set of twins). My favorite is a pike up with a pull forward, this allows you to use many muscle groups from your arms to legs and everything in between.

  • Nice Dayton, it's been a year and a half - how are your abs looking? like the picture?

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