Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Six-Pack Mystery!

You're in the gym 9 days a week. You do 1000 sit-ups a day. You run, spin, cross train, cross fit, and most probably yoga-it as well. Yet, after all that, you still still can't seem to get that Ryan Gosling like mid-section. Those Gerard Butler - 300 - abs of steel! Well, keep reading because I'm going to demystify the secret behind great Abdominals.

The fate of your abs lies in the answers to the four questions below:
  1. How frequently do you train your abs?  
  2. What kind of exercises are you doing to target your abs? 
  3. How much cardio are you doing each week? 
  4. What is your diet like? 
1.  How often should I train my abdominals?
In order to answer this question, I must explain that your abs work the same way as your back, chest, arms, and legs. A muscle is a muscle and, just as you wouldn't work your arms everyday, you shouldn't work your abs everyday either. I hear it all too often, "I do 500 crunches a day", "I've been doing my 9minute ab video 6 times a week". Your abs need rest just like any other muscle!  
TRAINER TIP: Make sure to give your abs a day or two of rest between each training session. For more advanced clients, one day of rest between sessions will suffice.

2.  What exercises are best for getting a six pack?
We all know the crunch, the sit up, and the leg raise. These tried and true exercises are the staple of any ab routine, but as the great philosopher Abdominus Theolepus said, You wouldn't eat chicken for dinner every night! The bottom line- results require variety! Variety includes increasing your rep scheme, trying some different and new abdominal exercises, and using weights to get that pack to really pop!
TRAINER TIP: Here is a list of some of my favorite ab exercises.
  • Bicycles 
  • Ab strap knee raises
  • Plank - standard & side planks
  • Weighted sit-ups 
  • Medicine ball russian twist 
3.  Cardio time...again?
Most people either spend too much time on cardio or too little. If you are one of those people that goes to the gym and jumps on the treadmill for 90 minutes...Stop it! If you are the opposite of a gym rat and do absolutely no cardio...Get to it! Truthfully, cardio is necessary but, just like you've heard me say before, moderation is key. Too much cardio burns through muscle and too little cardio packs on the fat.
TRAINER TIP: Although you should be active most days, for cardio, I recommend the following:

  1. To maintain your current fitness level/weight: 2 days a week for 30 minutes
  2. To lose weight: 4-6 days a week for 30 minutes. 
4.  You are what you eat!
This is going to be short and sweet! You want to be lean, you gotta eat lean. Quit the KFC. Quit the basket o' bread before dinner at Red Lobster. It's that simple. You can't expect to eat donuts and have Ryan Reynolds abs or Heidi Klum's hour glass physique. 
TRAINER TIP: Stop eating the bad foods and start eating the good foods. Lots of veggies, salads, and lean meats. Stop eating the all those foods high in fat, sodium, sugar, and carbs. 

There it is folks! If you are tired of carrying around love handles filled with anything but love and tired of pouring out buckets and buckets of sweat and getting nowhere, then re-assess, re-evaluate, and start new with the above plan that will get you that six pack you have always wanted. 
TRAINER TIP:  A good personal trainer will always increase your chances of six pack success.

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