Training those abs all the way to a six pack is one of the most popular goals in the gym. Many train the stomach. Very few, however, ever get the longed-for six-pack. One of the two most important factors in making the abdominal muscles visible and getting a six-pack is the optimal training of the abdominal muscles.
How do I optimally train the abdominal muscles?
The most important aspect of training a muscle is its functional anatomy. That means what task does this muscle take on in its day-to-day functions. Based on this, you choose the optimal exercise for a muscle. A simple example is the biceps. This bends the upper arm in the elbow. And accordingly, the biceps are primarily trained with exercises that flex the upper arm. The three main functions of the abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominis, are:
1. The abdominal muscles are crucial for keeping the upper body upright - The rectus abdominis is an important postural muscle. Because it stabilizes and straightens the upper body in the front line. As well as connecting the pelvis to the chest.
2. The abdominal muscles flex the trunk - A contracting rectus abdominis also causes the chest to be pulled towards the legs, thereby flexing the trunk. On the other hand, with the upper body fixed, the pelvis is raised towards the chest.
3. The abdominal muscles prevent overstretching in the lower back - The rectus abdominis also stabilizes the upper body when forces are acting frontally on the torso and the chest and pelvis do not converge, such as during ab rollouts with the barbell or when sprinting, where the rectus abdominis is critical to keeping the lower back from hyperextending and causing back pain after sprinting.
These are the three basic functions of the abdominal muscles, based on which we can derive the best exercises for training the abdominal muscles.
What are the best abdominal exercises?
When selecting exercises, in addition to the functional anatomy of the muscles to be trained, the training effect caused by the exercise is also decisive. In strength training, this primarily means how high the forces on a muscle are that result from a specific exercise. For example, barbell flat bench presses recruit more chest muscle than dumbbell flyes, and a pull-up recruits more back muscles than a lat pulldown machine.
Based on the resulting forces and thus the primary training effect as well as the three basic functions of the abdominal muscles, we can derive the best abdominal exercises:
1. The abdominal muscles are crucial for keeping the upper body upright - exercises such as deadlifts and squats put high forces on the upper body and demand a great deal of upper body stabilization. This makes them excellent exercises with a high training effect on the abdominal muscles.
2. The abdominal muscles flex the trunk - An exercise group in which the trunk is flexed with higher resistance is the pull-up. In addition to stabilizing the upper body, the abdominal muscles also contribute to the initiation of the movement in most exercises. One reason why many get sore muscles in their stomach after the first training sessions with pull-ups.
3. The abdominal muscles prevent hyperextension in the lower back - Besides the ab rollouts with the barbell, sprints are definitely the best exercise group for her, which exposes the abdominal muscles to high forces in their "anti-extension" function (engl. a prevention of hyperextension) and such is excellent for training the abdominal muscles.
These exercises are not part of a conventional abdominal training program, which is usually performed lying or seated on the floor. In these exercises, you primarily stand on both feet, which automatically increases muscle recruitment, since standing on both feet is generally more functional and generally recruits the highest number of muscle fibers in strength training.
Aren't crunches and situps the best abdominal exercises?
No they are not. Crunches and sit-ups are the two most popular and well-known abdominal exercises. However, both sets of exercises don't generate the same high forces as pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, ab rollouts, and sprints. These high forces are crucial for recruiting many fibers in the abdominal muscles and thus optimally training the abdominal muscles.
How do I get a six pack?
The six-pack or washboard abs is a colloquial term for the strongly developed abdominal muscles in humans that are only covered by a little fatty tissue. The musculature in the abdominal area is curved several times, which has led to the term “washboard stomach”. As a rule, there are six visible bulges (three on each side), which is why the term six-pack, which comes from English-speaking countries, is used.
Anatomically, the washboard abs is the contour of the rectus abdominis under the skin. The horizontal divisions are created by intermediate chords. The number of these incisions varies between zero and four, so from an anatomical point of view, some people may not have a washboard abs at all or even an eight-pack or even a ten-pack ") be given. However, most people have a predisposition to two to three incisions that form the washboard abs. The vertical division is the division of the two muscle tracts to the left and right of the umbilicus by the linea alba.
In order for the relief to be visible, intensive training of the abdominal muscles and a low body fat content are required.
Optimal training and the best nutrition for a six-pack
In addition to training for a six-pack, nutrition is crucial to reducing the body fat percentage and thus exposing the abdominal muscles and the six-pack and making them visible. In an article in the coming weeks we will go into the most important principles of nutrition for clearly visible abdominal muscles and the six-pack.
Until then, good luck with your abs workout!
Image: One of our many Before'n'After successes that have gone through the Before'n'After program. Here the abs have been exposed without any form of the crunches and situps . Ab workouts consisted primarily of squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and rollouts. As well as nutrition and supplementation based on the YPSI skinfold measurement .