Want thick, dense abs that stand out like a washboard? Want a ripped midsection with veins and shredded striations? No? How about this: Want to look good naked?
Well, you will never achieve any of those goals if you train your abs once a week with three sets of crunches for 100 reps, or if you eat like a horse. Avoid these 6 common abdominal training mistakes and your abs will dial in. Whether you are a bodybuilder, an athlete, or a novice, chances are you are making several of these mistakes in your training right now. Take heed!
A great example of male and female abs gone right.
The Top 6 Abdominal Training Mistakes
Neglecting Your Abs
Neglecting the abdominal muscles is something that average gym-goers and bodybuilders alike tend to do quite often. This is a combination of multiple things. Sometimes, people figure that doing compound exercises is sufficient for ab development. Wrong. You can develop decent abs from compound exercises, yes, but you won’t maximize their strength and size this way. More than likely, you should be training abs much more seriously than you are.
A good idea for your ab training regimen is possibly on your normal off-days, to come in and train abs extremely hard. Being one of the smaller, more stubborn muscles on your body, they’re actually able to be trained quite often. Training them 4-5 days a week is probably overkill, but hitting them hard 2-3 times a week is definitely a decent start. Throwing them in at the end of a chest workout, though, isn’t going to allow the same level of abdominal fatigue.
Lacking a Structured Ab Routine
Most bodybuilders look at their training routine, and they are planning on how to hit the largest muscles in their body, like chest, back, legs, and others primarily when mapping out a training program. Similarly, they quite often completely leave a day focused on abs out of their program, or just throw it in with a large muscle that requires tons of energy, and don’t really focus on it.
Putting more effort into training abs, and mapping it out well in your routine will pay dividends. Occasionally train your abs at the beginning of your workout, when they are fresh and when you have highest level of energy.
Not Hitting Abs with Maximum Intensity
Whether they’re in a hurry to get out of the gym, or simply don’t understand the basics of human anatomy, many people train abs while just going through the motions, and actually end up targeting other muscles rather than their abs. It’s important to feel your abs engaging during exercises, and really focus on squeezing them.
If you want to really hit your abs hard, do them first in your workout. If you hear or read that training abs before squats or overhead presses could lead to injury due to a fatigued core, just know that is more of a myth than a reality.
Improper Oblique Training
Many bodybuilders especially train their abdominals like they’re sculpting a masterpiece. This is because as a bodybuilder you’re looking to maximize the v-taper appearance of your physique, and its overall appeal, and over time training obliques has been known to make the waist appear wider. Therefore, the majority of bodybuilders barely train abs, and definitely avoid heavy oblique training.
On the other hand, strongmen, powerlifters, sport specific athletes, weekend warriors, and pretty much anyone who is training for actual fitness rather than bodybuilding, should not neglect their obliques. Perhaps the obliques should never be trained with 12-15 rep sets to target hypertrophy, but there is always a reason to train your obliques with heavy weight to make them strong, develop core stabilization, and improve rotational power.
In my opinion you can never go wrong training your obliques once in a while with higher rep sets (20+) for conditioning and endurance, especially if your sport requires rotation or abrupt turns.
Training for Abdominal Definition
In general, nothing you do inside a gym will truly build or allow for ripped, visible abdominal muscles. The essential key to obtaining a ripped midsection, and washboard abs, is a good diet. When shedding fat away and revealing those abs is a concern, the primary focus should be on your caloric expenditure exceeding what you eat on a daily basis. This will allow for fat loss from week to week, and start revealing those abs. Of course, remember to take in sufficient protein to avoid muscle loss.
It’s not exactly precise where people get this notion from, but many people believe that your abdominals are built from doing tons and tons of crunches, or situps. Your abs, however, are like any other muscle, and grow from resistance.
If you want large, thick dense, abdominal muscles, you’re going to need to add some resistance. Lower the number of repetitions you’re doing to build some thickness and density in your abs.
Also choose exercises that are not traditional cookie-cutter step-class movements. You want to be moving your entire body through space and lifting heavy weights when you train your abs. Crunches won’t do you much good at all. Try windshield wipers and clothespins instead.
- Make sure to include ab training at least twice a week, and do it effectively.
- Keep most sets between 5-10 repetitions, and increase resistance weekly. You can make ab training harder by doing structuring your abdominal exercises as a superset or even a giant set.
- Don’t get in a rush. Take time and really focus on squeezing your abdominal muscles.
- Occasionally train your abs first in the workout to prioritize them most effectively.
- Target oblique training around your fitness goals, but generally target all abdominal muscles equally.
- Train abs like any other muscle, and don’t forget that dieting is key to reveal a ripped midsection.
- Use low reps sets instead of high rep sets to make your abs dense and thick.
- Read this: The Top 10 Best Abdominal Exercises – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3