How Should I Be Training for Six Pack Abs?

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question-icon-newI currently weigh 225 pounds and I have a lot of fat around my stomach. My main goal is to lose about 25 pounds and burn a lot of fat so I can get a lean stomach. I was told that I should be doing abdominal exercises everyday in order to get a set of ripped, six pack abs. What do you think? How often do you think I should be training abs and should I train them by themselves or combine them with other muscle groups?

answer-icon-newLet’s tackle the issue of overtraining first. Abdominals are like any other muscle group and they need time to rest after resistance training in order to fully recover. The least amount of time you want to provide your abs to fully recover is 48 hours, so if you train your abs on Monday, you should not train them again until Wednesday. However, if your ab muscles are still sore after 48 hours, give them another full day to rest up. You never want to train a muscle group with intense exercise and then not allow enough time for rest. If you do this, it will lead to serious issues with overtraining which usually results in actually losing muscle and getting weaker simply because the muscle is overworked and your body goes into a state of shock.

If you overtrain enough, you can actually get sick since your body is so worn down and tired that its immune system gets affected and you end up getting the flu. So, always remember to train hard but train for a short period of time (45-60 minutes) and then let your body rest, recover and grow. This is why sleep is so crucial for recovery and repair. If you are training hard, you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night in order to optimize your growth hormone release for rebuilding broken down muscle tissue.

hanging-leg-raises-absThe next thing to discuss is fat loss. Since you have decided to go on a fat loss program in order to reduce the accumulation of fat from around your stomach, it’s important to note how fat loss occurs. Have you ever seen the guy in the gym who does 1,000 crunches and then walks over and does another 1,000 hanging leg raises every day of the week and you notice that he avoids doing any other type of resistance exercises because he says he is “working on my six pack”? The only problem is that the guy is chubby with absolutely no definition in his abs!

Guys like this are doing something called “spot training” and it’s totally worthless. They think if they do thousands upon thousands of AB exercises, they will eventually see a set of rock hard and shredded six pack abs develop that you can wash your clothes on. No, this is not going to happen and it’s because of the way your body burns fat. It does it holistically, or from all over the entire body. When you incorporate a clean diet with intense exercise to create a calorie deficit, your body will start to shed unwanted fat from your butt, legs, stomach and even your face. The reason why most people do not have ripped six pack abs is because the body holds onto fat very tightly in this area and finally starts to shed it off once the rest of the body starts to lean out and attain an overall lower percentage of body fat.

The key is to focus more on cardio exercise to burn excess calories and really tighten up your diet in order to provide your body with the right nutrients for it to be able to perform at an optimal level. Cardio and diet are the most important areas to focus on when trying to reduce overall body fat and tighten up your stomach. You can also incorporate different resistance training AB exercises into your workout plan, but remember where the core of your focus should shine on and that is eating clean foods and sweating it out with cardio workouts in order to decrease your body fat levels.

When doing AB specific resistance exercises, a great way to include them in your workout is by adding them in between sets of different muscle groups. I like to include them on my chest and back days. I will do a set of chest and then walk over and do a set of abs (crunches, leg raises) in between my sets. This way, I can multi-task and get in my AB training during my chest workout. This makes it super convenient and I can finish a full chest and abs workout within 45 minutes. Try combining abs into different muscle groups in this way to take full advantage of your time in the gym while working your butt off to pack on muscle and burn fat.

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