The Truth Behind Ab Workouts
Ab workouts have become incredibly popular on social media for several years. Bicycle crunches, leg raises, and many more exercises have become a holy grail for influencers to spread lies and misinformation. The reality is that most of these exercises won’t do anything to help show your abs besides helping with a little bit of core strength.
Why Ab Workouts Never Work
Have you ever tried to work out your abs and realized how ineffective it was? There must be a reason for this, and if so, why do most influencers not tell us about it?
Influencers don’t tell you how to work your abs because money is more important. They manipulate us by saying that anyone with a couple of floating air exercises can make their abs huge. To give you context, this would be like saying doing chest flys in the air can get you a “massive chest.” We need better resistance and a better diet to make effective ab workouts.
How To Get The Abs You’ve Always Wanted
Dieting and Weight Loss
No matter how strong your abs are, they’re never going to show if you’re not at a certain body fat ratio. To give you context, seeing your abs takes around 12-15% body fat for most people. That’s just seeing them, much less being completely shredded. The average American is, on average, 28-40%!
So, how do we lose all that weight? For starters, you can check out our excellent post on dieting and nutrition right here: The Startling Truth Of Dieting and Weight Loss.
In addition, here are a couple of good websites, YouTubers, and programs that show you how to lose weight effectively:
- Bodybuilding.com: https://www.bodybuilding.com/
- Jeff Nippard: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC68TLK0mAEzUyHx5x5k-S1Q
- Jeff Nippard Body Recomp Guide: https://jeffnippard.com/products/the-ultimate-guide-to-body-recomposition
- Sean Nalewanyj: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGXRegKvroyGv8HbN35AjKA
BUT WAIT! Before you leave and try to get shredded, follow along for a little longer. Despite what mainstream fitness leads you to believe, there’s more to building abs than just diet.
Actual Ab Training
Have you, or a friend, ever tried to do a bicep curl without any weight? Maybe do a bench press, and while you do it, you feel the air in your arms as you push up against the imaginary bar. How about a deadlift where you grab a ten-pound rope and try your best to lift?
Indeed, this sounds stupid. And yet, we still keep doing ab training without any actual resistance. Granted, you’ll need to start with these exercises before you can move on to others, but after that, you need to start putting on some actual resistance.
Ab Exercises That Work
1. Hanging Leg Raises With Weight
- Best Sets and Reps Count: 3-4 sets for 12-15 reps
- Rest Time: 1:30-2:00
- Rating: 8.9/10
- Difficulty Rating: 8/10
- Why It’s Good: Hanging Leg Raises requires us to do two things with our abs at once. Initially, we need to stabilize our core so we don’t swing back and forth. After that, we must raise our legs and crush our abs. Due to this immense initial difficulty, this exercise is very quickly loaded. If you’re not on steroids, you will probably never break 50 to 100lbs on this exercise.
- How to Do It: Hang from the bar and keep yourself stable. Then, whenever you’re not swinging, bring your legs up without bending your knees until they’re about 15-45 degrees above your abs. Slowly bring them back down, and that’s one rep. Repeat for however many reps you want.
2. Weighted Crunches
- Best Sets and Reps Count: 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Rest Time: 1:30-2:00
- Rating: 9.5/10
- Difficulty Rating: 7.2/10
- How to Do it: There are two ways to do this. 1: Do a regular crunch but find some weight in the form of dumbells or a medicine ball. 2: (the better one) to start with, grab an overhead cable after setting a good weight. Make sure you’re using the ropes. Then, put the ropes toward your neck and crunch against the resistance: For more information, here’s an in-depth guide: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/cable-crunches-guide
3. L Sit Hold (Optional Weight)
- Best Sets and Reps Count: 2-3 Sets for 15-60seconds
- Rest Time: 2:00-2:30
- Rating: 8.7/10
- Difficulty Rating: 10/10
- How to Do It: Get two parallettes, optional weight, and set up in an uncrowded area. Next, set up a timer with your time + 3 seconds. Then, keep your legs up in the air. Afterward, train until failure, and you fall to the ground. Repeat for x amount of sets.
How To Progressively Overload Abs
Abs should be treated as every muscle in the body; first, you need to start resistance with about 60-85% of your 1RPM (one rep max) for a certain amount of reps until you’re very close to or at failure. Secondly, give your abs time to rest and recover. Due to the consequences of overtraining, you should be realistically training them a maximum of 2-3 times a week to start and gradually moving up to 4-6 times a week.
After you’ve recovered, you need to overload progressively. There are four main ways to do this:
- Add Weight: Simple, add weight to the exercise.
- Add More Reps: Just add 1-2 reps to your exercise if you can’t add weight without it being too complicated.
- Use More Sets: More volume is good, but only up to a point. Realistically, you only need about 10-20 sets per muscle group. So, once you get to this point, it might be good to start using the other two methods.
- Increase RPE: This one takes a little bit of explaining. To summarize, RPE is reps per perceived exhaustion. What’s more, is that RPE is on a scale of 1-10. 1 is sitting on your couch watching Netflix, and 10 is you want to die horrifically, but your body won’t let you. You should be around a 7-9 RPE for most exercises. However, if the other options aren’t working, increasing RPE can be an effective way to overload progressively by slowly getting closer to failure.
Congratulations! Now, you know exactly how to train for perfect abs and a shredded physique. However, are there downsides to constantly having abs? Good core strength is always amazing, but aren’t there negatives to always staying shredded? We’ll be answering this in a new post coming soon! In the meantime, check out our other content!
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