Abdominal Definitionis pretty much the holy grail of bodybuilding. While muscle striation comes fairly quickly on the rest of the body, getting those abs to pop is the Achilles heel, even for a seasoned athlete. Bodybuilders and fitness models know that the secret lies in kitchen, not the gym. The rest of us need a refresher course in Belly Fat 101. Brittany Spears, famous as much for her midsection as for her music, once claimed to do 1000 crunches a day. My rough estimate is that only about 10% of those crunches actually contributed to her tight waist. The rest was a combination of proper training and a squeaky-clean diet. While crunches and other abdominal exercises will certainly strengthen your core, they won’t get you far in terms of visibility. The hard truth is this: you can have the strongest abdominal muscles in the world, but if there is even a smidge of fat covering them, you will never see the fruits of your labor. It takes tremendous discipline, but with the right information, you can achieve the definition you crave. The first order of business is to clean up that diet! You can maintain a pretty good physique, even with a cheat here and there. But on a mission for a six-pack, there is absolutely no wiggle room. Sugar and sodium are your chief saboteurs, so go into your kitchen, and kiss goodbye all things sweet and salty. Canned, processed or otherwise altered will have to go as well. Load up on green veggies, lean protein, and low-glycemic fruit (think berries and apples). These foods have natural diuretic properties, and will help flush the water that’s floating between muscle and that stubborn subcutaneous fat. The role of cardio, when it comes to changing your physique, is highly overrated. The exception to this is when you’re working toward a six-pack. Short bursts of speed, followed by brief rest (HIIT) incinerate abdominal fat faster than any other form of exercise. When your body is operating at such intense levels, fat becomes its preferred fuel source. Pair that with the 48 -hour metabolism boost you get from interval training, and your flat belly plan is almost complete. The third piece of the puzzle IS ab-specific exercise. Walk into a gym and ask every trainer there what he or she recommends for ab work. Safe bet that some will say to train them every day, some will say to use high reps, and some might even say to skip it entirely. What has worked best for me is training the abs like every other muscle group, no more than twice a week. One workout will be a superset of three exercises, for as many reps as I can eek out, usually in the 30 to 50 rep range. The second workout is also 3 exercises, but this time I add a weight that’s heavy enough to keep me in the 10-15 rep range. I switch up the exercises every time, but always make sure to hit the upper abs, transverse, and the obliques. Your abdominals are a large muscle group. They need rest in order to build shape, so resist the urge to overtrain. True abdominal definition takes hard work and dedication, and can’t be achieved through any As-Seen-On-TV gimmick. But follow this tri-fecta to a tee, and you’ll have prize –worthy abs sooner than you think. Erin stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.
Abs: The Holy Grail of Fitness and Bodybuilding
- by connie b
- October 05, 2011
- 3 min read