It would seem that abdominal exercises are included in any fitness program. Crunches, leg raises, and planks are available to everyone. But not every visitor to a fitness club and not even every trainer, has an abs with 6 pack. Why is this happening and are there any secret movements that will allow you to purchase a “washboard” instead of just a flat stomach?
Disappointingly, even some of those performing on the bodybuilding scene do not have an abs with 6 pack. Really, professional athletes have not been able to pump up? No, it’s all about genetics. Some people are prone to hypertrophy of the rectus abdominis muscle, others are not and nothing can be done about it.
There is another option – there is an abs, it seems to stick out, but not embossed. This occurs in those who have built up muscle mass but have not burned fat. In general, cubes of varying degrees of visibility are available to everyone, except for those who have lost 50-60 kg at home and have not had abdominal surgery. All other people should just put in a little effort. Of course, it will not be possible to achieve standard “cubes” only by hugging abdominal exercises. We’ll have to remember about good nutrition, a normal daily routine and healthy sleep. Yes, the abs is done not only “in the kitchen”, but also in the bedroom, because a swollen stomach from an increased level of the stress hormone cortisol is quite a common story. Well, if we figured it out with sleep, you can start studying anatomy and developing a training plan.
Anatomy of the Abdominal Muscles
The human abdominal muscles are the rectus, oblique and transverse abdominal muscles. They form a muscular corset that does not allow the internal organs to “sag” and allows a person to maintain an upright body position and to perform household movements and sports exercises.
The anatomical functions of the abdominal muscles are:
- The rectus muscle provides adduction of the lower ribs to the pelvic bones, this allows you to twist forward. It supports the abdominal organs and is involved in breathing. As a stabilizer, the rectus abdominis muscle is involved in all exercises with the weight on the shoulders or chest and lifting it off the floor, so those who perform squats, lunges and deadlifts are more likely to have beautiful abdominal muscles. It also happens that a person does not swing the abs at all, or does 1-2 sets without weight at the end of their strength training and his rectus abdominis muscle bulges into cubes;
- The oblique muscles of the abdomen help us to bend and turn, provide both rotation along the axis of the spine and lateral bends;
- The transverse abdominal muscle – participates in breathing, allows you to draw in the abdomen and stabilize the spine
Is it Possible to Get Abs at Home?
The abs can be pumped up even at home, even on the street. Another question is, if a person is completely devoid of willpower and does not perform technical exercises correctly. If there is no sense of the body and an understanding of exactly how to work the muscles, it is better to hire a coach for at least a few sessions. For years, many people swing their neck muscles, doing twists on the mat and the iliac muscles and quads of the thighs when they raise their legs in the hang and then complain that training at home is complete nonsense and if there was available money for the gym, they would definitely cope. The point here is not about finances, but about the fact that if a person cannot cope on his own and there is no one to help him, his path will be three times longer.
But, fortunately, if the nervous system is working normally, the Internet has not yet been turned off for non-payment and the person does not have spinal injuries, he can do twisting and leg lifts at home.
By the way, the most basic equipment will be enough for most trainees, this is an ordinary rubber mat and some kind of weights, either a kettlebell, a dumbbell, a sandbag or a mini-barbell. There is absolutely no need to set power records here, it will be enough just to provide the muscles with a progressive load needed.
First Step: How to Get Rid of Belly Fat?
Most people who set themselves the goal of looking good, rather than setting power records, will want to get rid of the fat from the waist first. Everything is simple here, no matter how much twisting you do, you will have to create a calorie deficit. Even an hour of exercise on the floor is no match for simply giving up sugar in tea and coffee and replacing it with some no-calorie sweetener.
Fortunately, belly diets and other legacy of folk fitness folklore are not required. An ordinary person, being normal or overweight, who eats at random, that is, does not count calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, it is enough to start eating rationally. This means that counting all of these indicators and balancing the diet, as well as creating a small calorie deficit so that the body begins to burn fat to replenish it, will be beneficial.
Nutrition Plan for Abs
Practice shows that it makes no sense to cut the calorie content of the diet by more than 20% at home. If you make a more serious deficit, a person will simply start to secretly overeat or feel bad and eventually overeat in order to somehow regain vigor.
For an ordinary person, it is enough from the figure that will turn out if its weight is multiplied by 30, subtract 300 kcal to get the figure with which to start losing weight. As you lose weight, this figure is recalculated. It is enough to reduce the weight by 5 kg to attend to the recalculation.
Where to get kilocalories from? From a balanced diet. An ordinary person, who is not engaged in physically hard work, needs 1.5 g of protein, 1 g of fat, and 3 g of carbohydrates per 1 kg of body weight. It is imperative to “gorge on” proteins and fats. Carbohydrates can be cut down to 2 g if “not losing weight”, and physical activity comes down to some kind of home workouts with small dumbbells and walking for half an hour a day.
Weight loss rules:
- You need to eat not only in a balanced way, but also varied. In practice, 3-4 different types of cereals are bought, seasonal vegetables available, chicken breast and fish, as well as beef, plus eggs and low-fat dairy products. This is complemented by a bottle of butter, and a little sour cream for the sauces. Most of the popular dishes in our country can be prepared from such a set;
- Approximately 10% of calories can be obtained from any food, including what is considered “junk food,” such as sweets and snacks. Of course, such food retains liquid and will only stop visual progress, but it will help to achieve actual progress. Everything is simple. If you do not limit yourself rigidly, there will be no breakdowns either, therefore, you will be able to lose weight faster than with 2000 calories every week;
- How to keep track of all this? Usually they cook some kind of side dish from cereals, bake chicken and fish and stew vegetables with butter. This is the basis of the diet, from which there are meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast, eggs or cottage cheese are prepared for a change. Sweets and so on, are eaten on the day of a hard workout, if there is a relatively large amount or on any, having entered in the calorie content;
- All food is weighed and recorded in a diary in the Fat Secret app or any other. A healthy person does not need any special diets or exclusion of food groups. If there is a food allergy, exclude wheat, nightshade or dairy products, but this is rare;
- Special diets with high amounts of fat and low carbohydrates are needed only by those who already have a low percentage of fat, about 20 for women and 10 for men. In abdominal terms, this is when the “stripes” of oblique muscles and the outlines of the upper abdominals are visible.
There is often talk of a preference for protein, but the point here is not to eat only meat, fish and eggs. The point is to gain 1.5 g of protein per 1 kg of current weight with any diet, it doesn’t matter if you eat meat in principle or not. It is necessary for building muscles, normal immunity, and normalization of appetite. Those on high-carbohydrate diets can suffer from spikes in blood sugar levels and veritable bouts of hunger.
Make sure you include such foods with every meal:
- Poultry, fish, eggs, or meat;
- Cottage cheese or low-fat unfermented cheese;
- Dairy products with a high protein content;
- Legumes, soy, or tempeh if you’re a vegetarian
If, despite all this, you cannot gain 1.5 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight, it is best to use sports nutrition products. A protein shake will eliminate the need to prepare protein foods, and will help eliminate amino acid deficiencies and provide muscles with building materials.
Vegetables and Fruits
You have to be selective here. If you are prone to gas production, you need to leave something in the diet that does not provoke digestive problems. For most people, these are asparagus, cucumbers, salad greens, tomatoes, carrots, and artichokes.
Cauliflower and cabbage, broccoli, beets, mushrooms are excellent healthy foods, but if your stomach literally swells up from them for the period of “abs manifestation” and preparation for the beach or a photo session, it is better to exclude them.
Fruit should be included in the diet selectively. Berries and green apples are ideal for most people, as well as kiwi and grapefruits when it comes to losing weight, but there is only little point in eating them if other fruits do not impair digestion and fit into the diet.
Only fruit and vegetable mono diets are not recommended. Scientific dietetics insists that they impair health and negatively affect overall muscle mass and body condition. They should be included only for those with kidney problems and only for periods that are prescribed by the doctors. For weight loss, and even more so, in order for the abs to become prominent, it is better not to use such diets. However, the story about the benefits of a protein-free diet has more to do with marketing than with the real benefits of products.
Usually recommend from 30 to 40 ml of water per 1 kg of body weight. The amount of fluid in reality depends on the region of residence and climate, physical characteristics and kidney function. The modern trend of “pouring” into oneself the notorious 8 glasses of water with health has little in common. The liquid that comes with soups, vegetables and fruits is still absorbed by the body, although radical health sources think otherwise. Many recommend either drinking only water, or cutting out tea and coffee altogether, and consuming only herbal teas and water. There is also an opinion that each cup of tea or coffee should be accompanied by a couple of glasses of water, because tea and coffee are diuretics. In fact, tea and coffee are unlikely to cause dehydration if a person drinks not only them, so you should be careful with such advice.
It is quite easy to compose a sample menu for yourself:
- Breakfast should contain some source of protein, such as eggs or cottage cheese, and also contain 200-300 g of vegetables or fruits as fiber for digestion. You can also include carbohydrates in this meal – porridge, bread, or legumes, if they are well tolerated, will do the trick;
- Lunch – lean meat or fish plus vegetable salad, plus a side dish of carbohydrates and vegetables;
- Dinner – lean meat or cottage cheese plus vegetables;
- Snacks, if needed – fruits and dairy products, or some nuts.
Do I need five meals a day for weight loss? Yes, if a person is otherwise uncomfortable with tolerating calorie restriction and macronutrient composition, then he will have to eat fractionally. If it is not comfortable, there is no particular need for it. Modern science has refuted the myth that it is necessary to eat often and not enough to speed up the metabolism. Our calorie consumption does not depend on the frequency of “approaches to the table.” The thickness of the fatty layer on the abdomen does not depend on this either. It turns out that if eating fractionally is not comfortable, there is no reason to do so.
Cardio and Aerobic Exercises
Many cannot lose weight, not because they somehow do not eat properly or do not actively pump the abs. Calorie intake rates are calculated for people who move for at least half an hour during the day, walk or do active physical work. Everyone else can add cardio or aerobic work to their schedule to shed excess fat.
In addition, aerobic exercise reduces stress levels and allows you to get rid of the cortisol abdomen that accompanies many stressful activities.
Aerobic training includes:
- Club group programs – step, dance, various interval training;
- All kinds of video lessons – zumba, tai bo and other lessons available on free video hosting;
- Running and walking;
- Classes on cardiovascular equipment;
The norm of such activity for any person is half an hour a day. If you need to lose weight faster and have the opportunity and physical data, you can do cardio and more, giving it up to an hour a day.
Is aerobics a must in order to have a relief? No. For many, strength training is enough to stay active and regular walks. Rather, aerobic exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, a way to cope with stress.
Second Step: Abs Workout & Exercises at Home
The abs is easy enough to pump. People simply forget that this is an ordinary muscle and come up with some non-existent rules. Say, it is imperative to pump the abdominal muscles to failure in every approach and with wild pains, burning sensations and almost to the cessation of breathing.
In fact, you need to do 2-3 working sets with resistance, enough to make the final two reps difficult, this is enough to pump up your abs.
Do you need to do a lot of exercise? It is difficult for people to realize this, but one exercise is enough, for men, for women, for cubed abs and for whatever. What is this exercise? Some form of direct twist or reverse twist, for example, on the floor with weights or lifting the legs while hanging. It only works when the muscle gets enough stress for hypertrophy, that is, when a person performs an exercise for 10-12 repetitions and cannot perform more.
Most people prefer to spend time on some kind of complexes for the abs simply due to the lack of dumbbells and barbells at home and poor physical fitness, which does not allow working on the horizontal bar.
Are the complexes effective? They certainly won’t get any worse, but they can be safely replaced with a complex for all muscle groups and one correctly performed exercise for the abs. Doing a bunch of planks, leg raises and body raises is possible for those who do little to train the body with weights, or only do Calisthenics.
For home workouts, conditions are needed:
- Well ventilated room, but no draft;
- Yoga mat or rubber mat on the floor;
- Correctly chosen time, as there is no need to pump the abs on a full stomach or just before bedtime;
- Ideally, before training the abs, you should do strength exercises for the whole body, or at least do cardio.
Rules of Abs Workout
It is clear that the information in the sources is contradictory. But it is generally difficult to find more useless advice than pumping the abs every day for the sake of cubes. Daily abdominal training leads to increased muscle endurance, not strength and volume. Hardy muscles are rarely bulky. Therefore, “download every day” can be safely left in the past, along with shaping and advice about “not to eat after six”.
You need to train like this:
- Always warm up;
- Never exercise on a bed or other soft surfaces;
- Avoid clothing that hinders movement;
- Concentrate on movement;
- Add weight or complicate the exercise as soon as the body gets used to it.
This movement allows the abs to work as a stabilizer and loads the transverse abdominal muscle. You need to place your weight on the forearms and toes, align the body, pull the stomach inward so that it is drawn in and stabilize the body, breathing deeply and slowly.
The bar is performed for a while. The peculiarity of this movement is that there is no need to push the stomach forward or “sag” with the lower back. The plank should be part of your daily routine, some sources say. Or part of every abdominal workout. In fact, this is not necessary. Professional fitness trainer Alwyn Cosgrove, recommends in his book that the bar is only at the beginning of strength training for all muscle groups. In addition, he advises to complicate the plank, standing with your forearms on your bare feet or lifting your legs up, as soon as the adaptation to the exercise has become significant.
The second exercise on the transverse abdominal muscle is the “vacuum”. It is the only exercise that is done every day. You need to stand up straight, bend forward, rest your hands on your hips, push out all the air from the lungs and under the action of a vacuum, the anterior abdominal wall will be drawn inward. In this position, they linger for 8-12 counts, and then repeat the exercise 2-3 times.
Exercises for Lower Abs
Anatomically, the rectus abdominis muscle is one muscle, but leg raises allow more use of it closer to the lower abdomen.
The following exercises are used:
- Reverse Crunches are the most effective way to build abs, by performing this for just 5 minutes a day. The technique of execution consists in the fact that you need to lie on the floor on your back, stretch your arms along the body and raise straight legs up until they make an angle of 90 degrees with the body. Next, it is necessary to raise the pelvis and straight legs with the help of the abdominal muscles, so that the legs pull over the head. Having reached the highest point of your capabilities, return to the starting position. Do the exercise at a slow pace and keep it in the negative phase, by lowering slowly back to the starting position. This is the most effective way to build abs in 5 minutes per day.
- Leg Raises. This exercise is useful in the early stages of training. You just need to lie on the floor and slowly raise your legs to become perpendicular to the body. Then lower the legs slowly, but not completely to the floor. After 10 centimeters remain between the legs and the floor, start a new repetition. To increase the load in this exercise, you can perform hanging leg raises on the bar. According to professionals, this exercise will help to quickly build cubes on the females stomach.
- Bicycle Crunch. Take a horizontal position and put your hands behind your head. Starting the exercise, stretch the right knee to the left elbow, and vice versa. The unused leg should be straight and flat on the floor.
- Scissors Kicks. Starting position, as in the previous exercises. Begin the exercise by raising your legs to a level of 40 degrees from the floor and then alternately swing your right and left legs up and down. Until the end of the exercise, you cannot lower your legs to the floor.
- V-Crunch. At the beginning of the exercise, take a horizontal position. Then perform the simultaneous lifting of straight legs and outstretched arms upward until they touch. This is a very hard exercise, but perfect for creating stomach cubes.
- Burpee. Sit down so that your knees rest on your chest and rest your hands on the floor. The exercise consists in pushing off sharply with your legs and straightening them back, after which you also sharply return to the starting position.
- Mountain Climbers. Take a lying position and start alternately pulling and removing the left leg to the left hand, the right leg to the right hand.
The same exercises can be performed with weights in the form of ankle weights. But it will be more anatomically correct to master the horizontal bar after the skill of lifting the legs while lying down has been obtained.