Training your abs and getting chiseled

A chiseled set of abs is the ultimate goal for many individuals entering the gym. And, despite the fact that so many of us chase this goal, very few of us ever attain it.

Why is this?

Well, it’s due to a combination of improper abdominal training and a bit too much slacking on nutrition. There’s also the fact that the vast majority of information on the internet on how to get abs is complete crap.

The simple truth is that no matter how many six pack shortcuts you take or 7-minute ab workouts you do, you’ll never see your abdominal muscles if you aren’t lean enough.

To have a truly remarkable set of abs you need to be lean AND muscular. One without the other will leave with a “soft” look -- something no one ever wants. 

We’ll cover how you need to structure your nutrition to get abs in an upcoming article. For today, we’re focused on how you need to set up your training to get abs.

With that in mind, let’s discuss some “ground rules” for ab training.

Abs Training “Ground Rules”

High Frequency

Train your abs at least 3 days per week, ideally with a rest day in between each direct ab training session.

Eliminate Momentum

When you’re trying to build muscle, you want to make the muscles work as hard as possible. This means that you do NOT want to be using a lot of momentum in your exercises. If fact, you should be trying to make the exercise as difficult as possible.

When you perform each rep during your workout, focus on maintaining tension in your midsection through the entire range of motion. Getting a complete stretch at the bottom and squeezing your abs as hard as possible at the top and holding that peak contraction for a solid count of one or two seconds.

Perform Weighted & Unweighted Exercises

So many times when people train their abs, they do hundreds and hundreds of reps of crunches, yet never see any significant changes in the size, strength, or definition of their abdominals.

The reason for this is that you’re not really challenging them. The abs are involved in just about any movement that we do, which means that they are doing a simple bodyweight crunch or sit-up really isn’t much of a challenge for them.

The abs are no different than any other muscle group in your body. In order for them to get bigger and stronger, they have to be forced to do so, which means you need to challenge them with increasingly heavier resistance (i.e. progressive overload).

For this specific reason, you’ll see that we included both weighted and unweighted ab exercises in our ultimate ab workout.

You might be wondering “how can I progressively overload ab exercises?”

Well, for bodyweight exercises such as the ab wheel rollout or plank, you can increase the amount of repetitions you do each set, decrease the rest interval between work sets, or increase the time under tension by slowing down rep speed and using accentuated eccentrics.

For example, if you typically perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on the ab wheel rollout in your workouts with 90 seconds rest in between sets, try performing 3 sets of 10 reps, resting only 60 seconds between sets. You could also keep the rest at 90 seconds and aiming for 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

For weighted ab exercises, like the kneeling cable crunch, you can increase reps and/or decrease rest between sets as we just mentioned, but you can also focus on incrementally increasing the resistance used for the exercise.

For example, if you’re currently doing 3 sets of 12 reps with 50 pounds on the kneeling cable crunch, the next workout, increase the resistance by 5-10 pounds and keep it there until you are again able to perform 3 sets of 12 reps.

By constantly challenging your abs to control more weight for more reps and sets, you’ll finally start to see some increased growth and definition.

Performax Labs Ab Workout

Perform one of these routines 2-3 times per week after your resistance-training workout of the day. You can perform the same workout each time, or alternate back and forth between the two workouts.

Each workout will be performed in a circuit-style fashion. After all exercises are complete, rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat for a total of three times.

Ab Workout #1

  • Kneeling cable crunch - 12 reps
  • Captain’s chair leg raise - as many reps as possible (AMRAP)
  • Ab Wheel Rollout - AMRAP

Ab Workout #2

  • Seated Ab Circles Left x 60 seconds
  • Seated Ab Circles Right x 60 seconds
  • Hanging Leg Raise -- 10-15 reps
  • Weighted Russian Twist -- 10 reps per side

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