In this article, you will find all the info to get those abs of steel, from healthy nutrition and general recommendations to the best ab workouts. Despite these recommendations being for women, it is also suitable for men if you consider a high training intensity.
What is an indicator of good physical shape? The first sign for everyone is our perfect abs. The notorious "six-pack" is firmly on the list of the most desirable things. But what is a six-pack ab set? And what is special about it?
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There are no upper and lower abs. They are a set of muscles composing a muscular corset that supports the body. The rectus abdominis is the main muscle of the abs1F. Fredon, J. Hardy, M. Germain, et al. (2021, April). Correlations of the Rectus Abdominis Muscle Anatomy with Anthropometric Measurements. Surgical and Radiological Anatomy: SPA. DOI:10.1007/s00276-020-02655-9. This muscle is divided into six parts (six packs), separated by tendons. Each such part is one cube.
Sometimes the cubes are far from each other (due to the different thickness of the tendons), and in rare cases, there may not even be 6 but 8. But you can only find out about this after training.
Scientific rankings of the American Council on Exercise show that captain's chair and bicycle crunches are the most effective ab workouts. While performing correctly, you use twice as many muscle fibers of the press.
However, the correct technique is much more important than the right choice of workouts and the equipment you have. Technically correct crunches will be more effective than leg raises performed by engaging the lower back.
Leg raises can be a great alternative to captain’s chair leg raise exercise.
Note: Concentrate on slow, controlled movement - don't jerk.
Note: If it's challenging to keep both legs elevated, place the non-moving leg on the floor.
There is a way to estimate how long it takes to pump up the press. First, you need to know your body fat percentage through any online calculator.
For cubes to appear on the stomach, the fat percentage should be 7-8% for men and 16-18% for women. If your current body fat level is, for example, 22%, you will need to drop 4-6% if you are a woman.
Let's say you burn 0.5% fat per week with cardio training, basic abdominal exercises, and proper nutrition. In this case, it will take you approximately 20 weeks to see the whole set of cubes.
But with complex training2S. S. Vispute, J. D. Smith, J. D. LeCheminant, et al. (2011, September). The Effect of Abdominal Exercise on Abdominal Fat. Journal of Strenghth and Conditioning Research. DOI:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181fb4a46 several times a week, you will notice a visible result in 8-10 weeks.
Note: Daily workouts can be hard on the muscles, so take intervals.
If you want to blitz your core quickly, use the instructions below - however, we remind you once again that to achieve cubes, you must genuinely love doing abdominal exercises and train the press at least 3-4 times a week:
The body's fat level for drawing the press is individual - for someone, it's 7%, and for other, the press is noticeable even at 15% fat. Depending on this, strategies for losing weight also differ.
A sedentary lifestyle provokes changes in posture. As a result - abdominal muscles relax.
It is a mistake to perceive the press exclusively in the form of a rectus muscle located on the front surface of the abdomen. In addition to it, there are oblique abdominal muscles. For women, side turns are suitable for pumping them.
Most ab workouts develop the outer layer of abs with little or no involvement of the inner abs. However, these muscles form a toned stomach.
The best exercises for pumping deep muscles are the plank and the abdominal vacuum breathing exercise.
Pumping cubes requires training for hypertrophy - exercises in a multi-repetition mode (for example, one hundred twists) may unnecessary to bring this result. Do fewer reps with higher loads. with the correct technique.
To get rock-hard abs, you must learn to control your abdominal muscles and use them while working out. If you can keep your abs consciously tense during crunches, this will greatly increase the effectiveness of this exercise.
But just working out is not enough. Over 50% of success in bodybuilding regards a healthy diet. To get steel abs, follow the nutritional tips collected by our specialists:
Eat plenty of protein. Eating enough protein promotes fat loss and muscle growth3, two essential outcomes for developing good abs.
Eat fiber. High-fiber foods are filling and low in calories, keep your digestive system running smoothly, and help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Cut down on alcohol. The best way to achieve a flat stomach is to avoid alcohol, but you can still enjoy a drink or two during the program.
Drink more water. Hydration is vital to your workout plan, but drinking enough water is especially good for your midsection. This helps fill your stomach and flush out excess sodium, preventing bloating.
Eat regularly. If you eat the right foods, regular meals and snacks will keep your body energized while you work on strengthening your abs.
To make sure you're eating enough to achieve your weight loss goal, calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight and then subtract 500 calories from that number.
Note: Even if you're very lean and muscular, you won't see 6-pack abs until achieving a very low body fat percentage (BMI4 of 20 or below). And don't worry, can't see the cubes doesn't mean you're in bad shape.
The effectiveness of abs workouts depends entirely on your dedication.
Set yourself up for success by doing abdominal workouts 3-4 times a week and eating a balanced diet. Leg raises, bicycle crunches, and planks are great exercises to help you reach your six-pack abs goal!
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