Perhaps the most attention-grabbing physique attribute one could possess, that garners the most praise right from first glance, would be the abdominals. When viewing a physique, your eyes generally go directly to the core of the person being viewed and then your attention extends outwards from there. It just seems to be human nature and because of this, many people have spent countless repetitions on just grinding away, crunch after crunch and going from one diet to the next in hopes that they too could have abs much the same. In all honesty, training your core for either strength or visual purposes isn’t really all that complicated but there are a few strategies that you should put more value or emphasis on than others and keep them at the “core” of your training. Finding what works best for you is always going to be the priority, but in doing so, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
You Can’t Spot Reduce Fat
For some unknown reason or another, there is a myth out there that says if you place a tremendous amount of energy and effort into reducing your body fat in one particular area of your physique, you’ll eventually get what you’re hoping for. Well, hopefully, this doesn’t burst your bubble, but that’s now entirely how it works. If possessing a six-pack or whatever numbered pack your genetics has given you is something you really want, then your focus needs to shift from just trying to etch that area out and instead work towards improving overall body composition. You cannot spot reduce fat; it just doesn’t work like that. You can however work on lowering your overall body fat percentage which in turn will uncover the abdominal structure you have been wanting to display.
Train your Core
Your core is made up of different muscle groups and is a complex area of your body much the same as the back or quads. There are different muscle groups in that area that all need some attention for improvement to occur. Muscles need stimuli to grow and get better and the muscles of your core complex are no different. This means you have to train the rectus abdominus, the serratus, the obliques and the intercostal muscles all the same so that you strengthen them, improve their density and firmness along with carving out detail and depth. So many people think of training their core as an afterthought and many times are too exhausted after a full workout to do anything for them. My advice would be to either just make it a priority to train them at the end of every workout or train them before you get into the heavier stuff you’ll be doing that session. Even better, train them twice a day every day. You don’t really want your abs to grow per say, but you do want them to get better and this will occur with more training frequency.
Wear a belt/Don’t Wear a belt
Now, this one suggestion could go either way depending upon who you talk to about the subject. Some people will say that not wearing a weight training belt while you workout is the best course of action for strengthening your core and keeping your midsection nice and strong and tight. Others will say that wearing a belt actually helps activate your use of the area by virtue of the fact that you push your abs out and into the belt when you have it on and during heavy lifts which will actually stimulate their use even more so. It all really depends on your preference here but there are many people out there walking around with a great set of abs, who rarely if ever train them, always wear a belt and yet have incredibly developed abs which are always visible to the eye.
There are of course many other benefits to keeping with a regular routine of training your core which include maintaining a good posture, low back health, overall thoracic strength and stability and of course keeping your waist nice and slim. All that matters is that you’re aware of all this, apply this knowledge to the programs you create for yourself and then maximize the strategies you decide to put into place. What you value most is the physique you’ve been cultivating all these years and your core is literally at the centre of it all. So don’t neglect it and train it as often as you can.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member