Alright, let’s talk abs, shall we? I’ll start with the old, worn out, cliche, reminder that, “abs are made in the kitchen.” Yup, I said it. Why? Because it’s freakin’ true. Like, a lot. #grammar
That said, I know why you’re here because I deal with this issue daily. Every single person I have ever worked with wants to “see" their abs. Male, female, old, young, obese, skinny, doesn’t matter, they all want better abs. I can pound the truth about why they can’t see their abs (nutrition!) into their heads over and over, until I’m blue in the face, yet they will continue to ask me for “ab workouts.” Fine. I give in. Let’s do it.
The truth is, everyone has a six-pack... it’s just hidden. Will proper nutrition reveal it? Yes, of course. Can we help the process along by building your ab muscles? Hell yes, we can! It all sounds simple enough, but a magazine-worthy six-pack is becoming much rarer in today’s society. The reason is very few people train their core muscles effectively.
First things first, “traditional” core exercises suck. Like, really bad. These tiny little isolation moves like crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, etc. etc. fail miserably at engaging your core as a whole. One of the fundamental principles behind everything I do is treating the human body as a “whole." That’s why I recommend compound movements for muscle and strength building. Compound simply means, working multiple muscle groups at one time.
Isolated Bicep Curl = Isolated exercise - You are only targeting the bicep. For Example:
Squat = Compound exercise - You are targeting multiple muscle groups. Hamstrings, quads, calves, core, back. etc. etc.
In my experience, compound moves yield better results across the board. From strength to physique, to mobility.
So what does this have to do with your six-pack-abs? Well, I take the same approach to abdominal training. There are tons of muscles that make up your “core” or your “trunk.” For an abdominal exercise to be truly effective, you want to engage the entire core as a whole, not just a few muscles.
For effective abdominal training, look no further than The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. In his best-selling book, he details 3 core specific exercises that work the entire core and yield fantastic results. To date, I haven’t found a more effective way to target all abdominal muscles with just a few simple moves. No reason for me to make up a new protocol when I already have a personal favorite, so I’ll share it with you here. It’s so effective that you only need to do this once or twice per week. Here is the workout:
1. The Myotatic Crunch - 10 reps
2. The Cat Vomit Exercise - 10 reps
3. Kettlebell Swings - 75 reps with a 50-pound bell
Let’s break these moves down:
The Myotatic Crunch - 10 Reps
Lower backward slowly. This should take a count of about “4 one thousand.”
Reach to full extension with your hands throughout the entire movement
The “crunch” upward will last for a count of about “3 one thousand.”
Make sure your biceps are in line with your ears throughout the entire movement! Don’t let your arms lead. Your entire upper body is traveling up and down together.
The Cat Vomit Exercise (excellent name) - 10 Reps
This one is a little weird at first. You want to exhale fast and hard! You want no air in the lungs while holding the contraction
Try to hold the contraction for 10-12 seconds. A count of about “10 one thousand.”
Kettlebell Swing - 75 reps - (Women: 35-pound kettlebell) (Men: 50-pound kettlebell)
Never watch videos of amateur CrossFitters doing kettlebell swings! Follow the video I’ve included here. Some CrossFit coaches teach kettlebell swings terribly.
Fun fact: I trained with one of the top kettlebell experts in the world for a measly $250 per hour to learn how to do these properly... I assure you, the form in the video is what you want!
At the top of the move, your abs should be fully engaged! At the top of the move, your ass should be fully engaged!
When I say fully engaged, I mean it. If we were to train together, in person, at the top of the move, I should be able to punch you in the butt or the stomach without it hurting you. (I actually do this with clients) That is how hard you should be squeezing your butt and ab muscles in the top position of this move.
If the kettlebell is heavy, feel free to break up the 75 reps into as many sets as you need to complete them
I would rather see you do 15 sets of 5 reps each with a break in between sets than see you use a much lighter weight.
If it is entirely too heavy, you can use a lighter
kettlebell. Women, do not go lower than 25 pounds. Men, do not go lower than 35 pounds.
If you do this routine even just once per week, you’ll be well on your way to a noticeable difference in abdominal muscle size and strength!
Remember, for any muscle growth; nutrition is king. Some simple rules to follow:
1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. Keep your carbs under 50 net grams per day!
Do those two things while following this training protocol and you’ll burn fat and build muscle. AKA: Six-Pack-Abs!