I’m sure everyone reading this does! Apart from having a low body fat percentage, getting rock-hard abs is actually quite simple.
Previously in this series of articles on the best exercises for each body part, we’ve said that in order to maximize the growth stimulation imparted to each body part, we need to
- Work with the FUNCTION of that muscle
- Provide resistance to the muscle in the position of PEAK CONTRACTION
So how do we do this for the abs?
How To Build Six Pack Abs
To be more specific, we’re talking about The Rectus Abdominus muscle. This group is responsible for the six-pack look. Take a look at the diagram to the right. The rectus abdominus is the section in gray.
To be completely honest, I’ve NEVER directly worked my obliques in my life. That’s right, I’ve never done a single set of “broom twists” or “side bends”. You simply don’t need to.
The transverse abdominus and obliques get all the work they need indirectly from working your abs and the rest of your body.
So let’s focus on working those six pack muscles.
The function of the rectus abdominus is to bring the rib cage and pelvis closer together. Any spinal flexion type of movement will get the job done and bring those six-pack muscles into a position of FULL CONTRACTION – very important!
A great way of achieving this and also providing resistance at the peak contraction point (PCP) is with Decline Sit-Ups (weighted).
Let’s take a look of a video I made to demonstrate this movement. (If you look closely you can see my laptop with my excel spreadsheet opened to track the progress of my workout. I shot this just before a real THT training session. I gonna tidy that place soon I promise 😉 ).
* Hold the weight on your chest and start to decline your torso.
* Don’t allow your whole spine to touch the bench at the bottom of the rep. Only your lower back should make a slight contact.
* Come back up slowly
* Hold at the PCP and pause for a second before starting the negative portion again.
* You’ll often hear in instructional videos, “Do high reps for the abs”. Well it depends just on how high “high” is. Anything over 20 reps is just not optimal to build the abdominal muscle. Work the abs within the anabolic window like all other muscles. Going towards the upper limit of that window of 90 seconds is fine.
You may also have been advised to “squeeze” your abs at the top of the rep. While I believe this is well-intentioned, you shouldn’t have to! If the weight is sufficiently heavy, you will be FORCED to seriously contract against the resistance to get into the PCP. If you are VOLUNTARILY squeezing the ab muscles, the weight is too light.
As for sculpting a ripped six pack, always remember this IMPORTANT FACT: A six-pack is obtained by doing the following…
- Building the abominal muscles up
- Getting a body fat percentage of 10% or lower (men) and around 17% or lower for women
No other gadgets, gizmos, or “special” or “advanced” ab routines are needed! You DO need a diet that sheds fat and preserves muscle tissue, a simple weight training routine to build the WHOLE BODY including the abs, throw in a little HIIT cardio and you’re on your way to a six-pack!
Accomplishing the above and taking the necessary measures that ensure that your fat loss is continuous (no stalls) is what ‘Total Six Pack Abs‘ is all about.
Quick Note: some people like to hold a plate behind their head for this exercise. This is fine if you find it comfortable as it also provides great resistance at PCP.