Getting abs is a fairly straightforward process. Maintaining them is a different story. Today we’ll show you how to do exactly that!
1. No Fast Carbs
Fast carbs spike insulin, which halts fat-burning and boosts fat storage, particularly on top of your abs. Carbs to avoid are white bread, white potatoes, regular sodas, sports drinks, table sugar, etc. Instead, choose whole-wheat, rye or sourdough breads, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, legumes and brown rice. One exception here: You can eat fast-digesting carbs right after workouts when they’ll be put to work boosting muscle recovery and growth.
Isometrics is the flexing of a body part, the abs for example, and holding that position (just like bodybuilders when they pose). Simply tense the muscle for 6–10 seconds, then relax for 6–10 seconds, and repeat for 10–20 sets. This is a great way to hit your abs while sitting in your car, on your couch, or at your desk at work.
When you perform an abdominal exercise like the crunch, exhale when you reach the finish (or top) position. This is important because it helps you better contract your abs. Pausing in this position for one or two will maximize muscle-fiber activity.
4. Keep Going
Instead of doing crunches, or leg climbers, etc. for a set number of reps, do as many reps as possible until you can't anymore!
5. Add weight
Some people worry that if they do weighted ab workouts, their abs will become thick and block-like. Abs are muscles just like biceps, so they need definition and separation to stand out. Do some weighted movements in the 8–10-rep range for optimal ab development.
6. Do Abs Last
A recent study by the Weider Research Group found that when trained lifters did abs before legs in a squat workout, they completed fewer reps of squats than when they trained abs after the squat workout. This is because the abs, obliques and transverse abdominis work together to stabilize the core, which allows you to produce greater force. Training abs first tires them, which lessens your core stability and weakens your base, as well as your ability to generate force. Wait until after to do your ab routine.
7. Switch Speeds
According to new research from Spain, scientists tested the muscle activity of subjects’ rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, and spinal erectors while they did crunches at rep speeds of four seconds, two seconds, 1.5 seconds, one second or as fast as possible. They reported in a 2008 issue of the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research that as the rep speed increased, so did the activity of all four muscles. The greatest boost occurred in subjects’ external obliques, which were hardly involved in the crunch at slower speeds but increased by more than six times at the fastest speed. So don’t fail to vary your rep speed. The fast reps will help recruit more muscle fibers in the midsection and turn the crunch, which targets the rectus abdominis, into an effective oblique exercise.