Six Pack Abs: Crunches Will Not Do The Trick

Let me start off by telling you that if you want a six pack crunches are the wrong way to get them.  This probably goes against the common belief that you have heard personal trainers tell you, infomercials try to sell you on this and your gym coach probably taught you.  What I will outline will probably be controversial but hang in there with me and I will show you what you really need in order to get abs that others will admire.

Some of the techniques outlined below are also covered by Rusty Moore in his free Abs Blueprint 1.0, which I highly recommend.  In it he gets in more detail with techniques and specific workouts that will help you bring out definition in your abs.

Here are some of the points that I will outline for you in order to achieve a 6 pack:

  • Doing ONLY crunches will get you one step closer to a lower back injury
  • You can not spot reduce the abs with any type of exercise
  • In order to get a 6 pack you need to lower your body fat levels
  • If you want your abs to show you need to do strength training and cardio
  • You need to work on your core, not just your abs

Do Crunches, Get Hurt

Although this may sound like an exaggeration, the truth is that if you only do crunches you are really making your lower back weaker and making you more susceptible to injury.  When you do an exercise like crunches you are flexing your spine in a forward motion.  Most of us have been taught that this is the only exercise you need to bring out ab definition.  Well, the problem is that crunches are doing 2 things:

  • Making you upper torso focused
  • Not strengthening the core area

Most of us think that this one exercise will be enough and so we end up neglecting the other areas of the core.  Doing an exercise like crunches only flexes the 6 pack- also known as the rectus abdominis. It is important that other exercises are incorporated in order to strengthen the core, including the lower back, in order to avoid lower back injuries.

Sit Ups And Crunches Will Not Reduce The Fat

This is one of the worst misconceptions.  Late night infomercials commonly pitch an abdominal exercises machine and promise you sharp abs if you buy their gimmick.  Unfortunately, some personal trainers promise the same thing throughout many gyms.  You are told that a certain number of reps and sets of sit-ups or crunches will do the trick when in reality the focus should be on burning fat.  Unless you bring your fat percentage to a lower percentage you will not see your abs no matter how many abs/core exercises you do.

Use The Right Combination of Strength Training and Cardio To Burn Fat

I know we all want to take the easy route and lose pounds with as little effort as possible.  It is easy to look at the latest fad diet like the Dr. Dukan Diet and think that this is all we need to get a flat stomach.

The bad news is that if you really are serious about burning fat you have to exercise.  But who wants to get on a treadmill and jog for an hour?  I don’t.  Actually I never do.  The best approach to burning fat using cardio is by doing interval training or short burst training.  This type of training is brief in amount of time spent working out but the intensity is high.  Interval training consists of doing a quick burst of activity followed by a rest period before doing a burst of high intensity again.

Some of the best programs like Turbulence Training apply these techniques so that you can burn fat in the least amount of time possible. By doing interval type training you are burning more calories in a less amount of time.

Strength training is also a very important component to getting closer to a six-pack.  Although strength training is often avoided because there is a myth that you have to burn fat before building muscle unless you want to look bulky, the truth is that this is only a myth.  Strength training is important if you want to burn fat much faster.

When we talk about strength training we are not speaking strictly of weight training. You can also do bodyweight workout routines and/or resistance bands training as effective alternatives.  Strength training will help you burn more calories and help tone your muscles.

If you do this combination of interval type of cardio and strength training in a matter of a few months you will see a significant decrease in body fat percentage.  The goal should be to get your body fat percentage as low as possible.

Eat Right And Reduce Your Calories

The second component that is important in order to bring out definition in your abs to reduce the number of calories you consume.  By creating what is called a calorie deficit you will see a decrease in fat.  Although this may sound difficult the important thing to do is to figure out the number of calories you are eating, count calories and then make adjustments by eating fewer calories.

Although this may sound a bit complicated and like more work than is necessary there are other methods, such as intermittent fasting, which is explained by Brad Pillon in his revolutionary diet program “Eat Stop Eat.”

Why Crunches Are Not Enough

As mentioned earlier, if you want a six pack crunches is the wrong way to go about this.  A combination of different exercises that target the core muscles is the best approach in order to bring out definition once you have decreased your fat.

One of the biggest problems with crunches is that they do not create DENSITY in your abs.  This one exercise does not force the muscle to contract with enough intensity to really create density in these muscles.  Despite creating the calorie deficit that was mentioned above it is necessary to really train the abs with intensity.

The Types of Exercises That Create Dense And Defined Abs

Once you have brought your fat levels to a low level, for men it is from 10 percent and under, and for women it is under 20 percent, the exercises you can do are the following.

  • Hanging Leg Raises (4-5 sets of 10)
  • Planks (Hold for 1 to 2 minutes but try for 2 minutes)
  • Side Planks (hold for 1 minute each side)
  • Toe Touch Crunches Or V- Ups:  lie down and with your feet up crunch up and try to touch your toes with the tips of your fingers (aim for 4-5 sets of 15 reps)

You can replace the hanging leg raise with lying leg raises.

Do this workout on two or three times a week on non-consecutive days.

Although hanging leg raises, lying leg raises and toe touches consist of flexing the spine in a forward motion, these exercises do apply sufficient intensity the overall ab region and this is necessary to create density.  Also, by adding planks and side planks we are strengthening the core and lower back region in order to prevent future injuries.

The tips outlined above may sound like a long process, and it is, but it is also a long-term approach that will help you achieve a six pack crunches can’t do alone.

This is only one brief approach but for a thorough and detailed method I would recommend the free Abs Blueprint by Rusty Moore in your quest for a 6 pack.

 

Build Six Pack Abs Without Abdominal Exercises Machines

You know you want to get a flat stomach, or better yet, you want to get ripped six pack abs.  Maybe you think you have to get some fancy abdominal exercise machines or you need to make line at the popular abdominal exercises machines at your gym.  Well it is time you change your way of thinking and instead focus on the techniques that work without using fancy machines.

As long as I can remember there have been various products pitched on TV that promise ripped abs by simply using strange machines.  Remember the ab roller? The Ab Swing? Torso Track?  Plus a variety of many other gadgets?  I think there was one that sent electrical shocks in to your abs too?

Well in order to achieve sexy abs it is much easier than you think.  There are various abs workouts out on the market that work and are free. For an example of an abs workout check out the Abs Report by Rusty Moore.  In it Rusty shows you the right workouts to get deep etched six pack abs or flat stomach, depending on your goals.

Before building an abs workout there are two factors that have to be present in order for those abs to show.  Regardless of how well you apply these exercises you have to eliminate fat.  In order to eliminate fat you have to:

  1. Eat Right
  2. Exercise properly using a combination of strength training and cardio

This is not to burst your bubble but if you believe that doing crunches will get you close to ripped abs you are mistaken.  In order to get abs that show fat percentage has to be low and the abs have to be trained and become dense (hypertrophy).  Your main focus is to drop your fat levels by coming down to a lower body fat percentage.  This may sound like it is extremely difficult but it is not.

Eat Right But Don’t Fall For Fad Diets

I truly believe that most people have common sense and know that eating too much or eating enough of the bad stuff will get you in trouble.  Here is a simple thing you can do today to eat a lot cleaner.  Note- this type is for anyone who finds it hard to drastically change his or her diet, something I don’t encourage anyway.

Eliminate one item that you know is unhealthy for you.  This can be a small item like soda, chocolate bars, fries, chips, you get the picture.  Eliminate that one item today and as you feel comfortable eliminate other unhealthy food items from your diet as you become more disciplined.

This one tip alone helped a friend lose 30 pounds in a month.  What did he eliminate?  Well after asking him what his vice was he told me he was drinking a liter bottle of soda a day.  Simply eliminating this from his diet and exercising actively helped him lose weight and the results were surprising.

Simply find that one thing you know is keeping you from making gains.  One small change can lead to major gains.  I am not saying you will achieve HUGE results but sometimes making a small step in the right direction is a good start.

Cardio & Strength Training Is Key

If you ever thought that you could get ripped abs by avoiding exercise you are wrong.  There are some freaks of nature that are so slim that they can eat all they want, not do any exercise and 2 crunches later they have a six pack (my brother is one).  Most people do not fit in this category so you have to make an effort.

When it comes to cardio the best approach is to do interval training.  Forget about doing long cardio sessions.  Simply follow a good interval-training workout in you cardio workouts and you will burn fat this way.  With very brief but intense sessions lasting less than 30 minutes you can get closer to losing body fat than ever.

Strength training does not necessarily mean weight training.  You can do bodyweight workouts or any other method that involves muscle building.  I have often heard people say that they don’t want to lift weights and build muscle until they first lose fat.  I have to tell you that you should do strength training as soon as possible.

Strength training will not bulk you up unless you eat a certain way and do specific number of repetitions in your workouts.  You can look lean while doing weights.  Doing strength training is extremely important as this burns off a huge amount of calories than simply doing cardio alone.  Again, the important thing to remember is that the intensity level is important.

Forget Most Abdominal Exercise Machines & Forget About Crunches

Yes, you heard right, drop most abdominal exercise machines.  If you want sexy beach ready abs you will have to drop the machines and really forget about crunches.  This goes against the popular opinion that you need to do an endless number of crunches to get your abs to show.  In reality, by doing crunches and using many of the abdominal machines at the gym you are setting yourself for having NO ABS and GETTING A LOWER BACK INJURY.

Rusty Moore explains in Fitness Black Book why this is the case and why you need to avoid traditional abs exercises.  Instead of focusing on just the abs you need to work on the core region, which consists of the lower back, obliques and the abs themselves.

Build Density In The Abs

One of the primary problems with many conventional abs exercises is that they do not work the area with enough intensity.  It is easy to do sit ups and crunches and these do not provide the adequate intensity and stimulation to develop density in the rectus abdominus (fancy term for six pack).

In order to stimulate the abs so that they may develop and become more dense you need to exercises that don’t just focus on the upper abs region, but the entire are of the abs as well.  An excellent way to do this is by doing exercises like leg raises and leg raises variations like hanging leg raises, bent leg raises and knee ups (these 3 exercises are used with a pull up bar or dip machine which doubles as an abdominal exercise machine).

Strengthen The Core

The next step you need to do is strengthen the core region which included the oblique, the region from the groin to right below the chest and the lower back.  Exercises such as planks and side planks are a great way to strengthen these areas.

Note:  eliminate the exercise known as hyperextensions as these cause unnecessary wear and tear in the lower back and lead to injury in the long term.

Abdominal Exercise Machines Free Workout

Here is a sample workout that does not require machines.

  • Lying leg raises (4-5 sets of 20)
  • Planks (Hold for 1 to 2 minutes but try for 2 minutes)
  • Side Planks (hold for 1 minute each side)
  • Toe Touch Crunches:  lie down and with your feet up crunch up and try to touch your toes with the tips of your fingers (aim for 4-5 sets of 15 reps)

Perform this workout 2 or 3 times per week on non-consecutive days.

You can also check out the free Abs Report by Rusty Moore for a complete set of abs workouts.

As you can see it is not necessary to work on your abs by using abdominal exercises machines.  Remember that doing these exercises ALONE will not get you sexy abs, six pack abs or a flat stomach but combined with a good diet and a good workout regimen it will highlight the results of your efforts.

Feel free to leave comments below and feel free to make any recommendations.

A Simple Boxing Ab Workout For Core Strength

This weekend as I was watching a major fight between Antonio Margarito and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao I was reminded once again by how a simple boxing ab workout can bring out definition in our midsection.
Fake #2
Photo courtesy of Xavier Noor

If you have sat down to watch a fight you have probably seen the power some of these guys pack in their punches.  In order to take constant abuse to their midsection a fighter has to be in good shape and has to have a strong core.

So what does it take to have a strong core/midsection and bring out those abs?  Well first let’s remember that these fighters are in top shape.  Much of their preparation involves great nutrition and excellent conditioning.  Adding these two elements keeps their fat percentage very low and perfect to see chiseled abs. Sometimes a simple boxing ab workout can go a long way.

The final piece of the puzzle to bring out the abs is working on the midsection doing core exercises.  So what are some exercises for the midsection that fighters use?

Here are a few you can do to get strong abs.

  • Partner up with someone and have them hold a medicine ball.  Stand across from them at a distance of at least six feet.  Have them throw the medicine ball at your midsection but do not catch it.  Have the ball bounce off the midsection and in to your hands.  Use a light medicine ball and the speed at which it is thrown will vary on your level of abdominal strenght.  Be gentle if you have never done this before. (perform 10 throws for 3 sets)
  • Medicine ball twists:  This can be performed with or without a ball.  Adding the ball makes it a bit more difficult or simply hold an object if you do not have this item.  Sit on the floor with both feet slightly raised about one to two inches off the ground.  Hold the ball or item at chest level and twist left to right.  To make it tougher,  as you turn bring the ball down to one side and have the ball tap the ground, then twist and do the same to the opposite side. (Do 30 twists- 15 to each side; perform three sets)
  • Hanging leg raise or lying leg raise:  Grab an overhead bar and bring your legs up to waist level and lower them slowly.  If you are lying down bring them up without bending your knees until the feet are pointing to the ceiling and lower them. Do not allow your feet to touch the floor.   (Try to perform 10 or as many as possible for 3 sets)

Try this simple boxing ab workout once in a while to switch things up if you are already doing your usual ab routine.