Ab training, There are three main categories of guys in the gym relative to ab training. The guys that never do abs because “what the hell, ya can’t see ‘em anyway”. Those guys that give them the cursory 3 sets of 20 reps “sometimes”, and the ab fanatics that bomb and blast ‘em every chance they get. Everyone wants a 6-pack, not everyone has one. Actually most guys do, but they are forever buried under that layer of fat that is going to come off “someday”, as soon as the trainee gets just a “little bigger”. Without going in to a big discourse about keeping bodyfat levels in check while adding mass, and doing periodic cutting cycles to keep lean, I’ll just go strait into what I believe to be the best way to train the midsection for both looks, and functional strength. I believed in training abs the traditional way for a long time. And by traditional I mean the high rep, low intensity method. While I have never been one to recommend doing them more than twice a week, abs were one of the few things I frequently did recommend doing twice a week. Something I don’t do for most bodyparts. Ab development suffered because of this, for both myself and those I trained. Then, enter the genius of Louis Simmoms, powelifting guru. Louis maintains, and rightfully so that if you want to have a big squat and a big deadlift you have to have bullet-proof abs. And not just abs that look good, but abs that are strong. And carrying that logic out, a bodybuilder without a big squat and deadlift is typically not a very developed bodybuilder—period! OK, so we need that foundation of strength in the mid-section to be able to do the core movements effectively, but will this also get us the abs we want to show off when our shirt is off? In most cases, for most people YES! So what does Louis recommend for abs? Training them HARD and HEAVY like any other muscle. No high rep low intensity pumping here. Westside relies on sit-ups on the glute/ham raise machine, weighted incline sit-ups, cable pulls, and weighted sit-ups. So you’re probably asking, what’s so special about this? Well they key is they are done with maximal intensity for relatively low reps in most cases. Doing so ensures a level of functional strength that just doesn’t occur when going light for high reps. When training abs this way you get abs that both look good, and provide the support that you need when going heavy on the core lifts. Back strain is reduced, and in case anyone is getting ready to object, you DON’T get a big blocky midsection with the lower reps. Just good, solid ab development. OK, so how to implement this for bodybuilding purposes? The way I do it for myself and most of my training clients could not be simpler, nor in my opinion much more effective. My core exercise, and the one I get the best results with are HEAVY weighted sit-ups. These are done by putting a dumbbell on your chest, with your feet locked somehow to prevent you from tipping over-lol. I stick mine under the power-rack with the pins in the lowest position. Any method of locking your feet is fine though, and just having someone hold them works perfectly. The movement is done with your knee joints broken, NO STRAIT LEGGED SITUPS HERE! But only bend your knees enough to keep the stress off the lower back. With the weight held high on your chest explode to the contracted position and do a nice S-L-O-W negative. Two sets of 8-10 reps after warm-ups is all you need. What almost all my trainees find is a HUGE strength potential that has been left un-tapped. It is common for guys to add 50 to 125 lbs on this lift in 2-4 months. Ab development skyrockets (provided bodyfat levels are low enough for them to be seen) and the strength base they develop in their mid-section helps all their lifts requiring torso stability. If you are a fairly easy gainer follow them up with some hanging leg raises. There are many ab machines in the gym that are well thought out, bio-mechanically correct, and fit the majority of people out there fairly well. Many of these machines can be used with the same principle with great results. The key here is keeping the weight high and the sets low. And for all you 2-3 (and more) times a week ab trainers, I challenge you to try this concept for 6 weeks, while only hitting abs once a week and see if the results don’t amaze you. I’m confident they will. The Iron Addict
I do 3-4 sets of abs nearly every workout, but I use a different exercise and I use weight when possible, keeping the reps at 15 or below. I agree, a stronger set of abs has lessened the lower back pain I used to suffer.
I never use weight on ab movements as I feel this way of training abs makes the waist blocky and larger.The last thing a bodybuilder needs is a bigger waistline even if it`s ripped.It will detract from the illusion of a V-shape taperIMO.Check out my ab training article at http://www.dolfzine.com "Magical Midsection" by Tim Wescott
iron addict- i read and re read you article, you kinda described me, i'm the guy that wants abs more then anything but always had a body fat % that is too high cuz i always saying i gonna mass up a bit more, well i going into a mass cycle (gonna be the last one for a while or maybe ever) after i gonna try to keep as much muscle as i can and maintain, i want that big blocky ab section, i'm gonna definatly give this a try now and when i start my mass cycle. thanx alot for that good info bro!. p.s just one thing the situps you mentioned with the weights held on the chest, you mention people weight go up 50 125lbs in no time, so what do the be putting on there chest 2-3 plates? maybe im not understanding it right. thanx again, peace.
I've had great results training abs low rep/high weight. I prefer using the decline bench and adding weight for situps rather than just lying on the ground. I don't think training abs this way makes the midsection blocky looking. Bottom line is, there's two components to having a bodypart look good... body fat and muscle mass. If you don't see the abs, you have to increase the muscle mass and decrease the bodyfat, I don't see why training abs should be different from any other muscle-- in fact, studies have shown that abs tend to be relatively fast twitch, so training abs with v. high reps is likely to lead nowhere.
I'm currently on a WSB routine myself so I am focusing more on strengthing the abs. Its been a great change from my usual bodybuilding routine. I think everyone should go over to the powerlifting forum and read some of the articles there. Great info!
Originally posted by stocky iron addict- i read and re read you article, you kinda described me, i'm the guy that wants abs more then anything but always had a body fat % that is too high cuz i always saying i gonna mass up a bit more, well i going into a mass cycle (gonna be the last one for a while or maybe ever) after i gonna try to keep as much muscle as i can and maintain, i want that big blocky ab section, i'm gonna definatly give this a try now and when i start my mass cycle. thanx alot for that good info bro!. p.s just one thing the situps you mentioned with the weights held on the chest, you mention people weight go up 50 125lbs in no time, so what do the be putting on there chest 2-3 plates? maybe im not understanding it right. thanx again, peace. when you get to the point you need more than one 45lb plate switch to dumbells.
I train my abs heavy and also high reps, for endurance for cardio, and strength for weights. I do weighted crunches, leg raises and decline situps. I do them 3 times a week and alternate heavy weighted sets to lighter 20 rep sets on the different days.