Developing killer abs is one of the most universally desired fitness goals. Regardless whether you want huge muscles, toned muscles, or better fitness overall, you likely want to develop your abdominals. Maybe a six pack isn’t your end-goal; but you likely want a tighter mid-section.
I fall in the six pack camp. Fortunately, I’ve been working out my abs for many years, so my abs are well-developed. Even if I have some extra fat, they show up decently.
Developing abdominal strength is more than just about looking good
Having strong abs (or a strong core as some people refer to it) is not only attractive, it’s healthy and good for your spine. It helps with your posture, which in turn is good for your back.
So, how often should you work out your abs?
You can certainly work them out more than once per week. Some people do abs every day they work out (i.e. 4 to 6 times per week). In my view, that’s a little too often. Instead, I do 2 to 3 ab workouts each week, but I make those workouts count. In other words, I pound my abs really well.
Therefore, 1 to 3 times per week is good.
Designing Ab Workouts
Ab workouts should be balanced. By balanced, I’m referring to targeting upper, lower and side abs. Admittedly, I hit my upper and lower abs more than my side abs… but I do incorporate side ab exercises.
My favorite ab exercises (but the most difficult usually) are those that work out both upper and lower abs at the same time. Examples of these exercises are:
- V-Crunches (a.k.a. Jack Knives)
- Scissor Swings
- Ab Wheel
- Log Rolls (with exercise/stability ball)
- Bicycle Crunches
Any ab exercise where you crunch or move together your lower and upper body at the same time.
How many exercises, sets and reps should ab workouts be?
I tend to do higher rep counts for my ab sets than other weight lifting exercises. I usually shoot for 8 to 20 reps, depending on the exercise. If, for example, I can do 40 to 50 reps of a particular exercise (such as a crunch), I add a difficulty factor to it such as decline crunches or V-crunches. Another way to make a particular exercise more difficult is to superset it. For example, I may do Scissor swings first, followed by basic ab crunches.
Exercises & Sets
I like doing a variety of ab exercises in any ab workout. I’ll incorporate at least 4 exercises during an ab workout. For each exercise I’ll do 2 sets. Sometimes I superset my ab exercises, which means I’ll do two or three ab exercises back-to-back with no rest in between.
I go by feel
Generally, my ab workouts vary every time with respect to exercise order, rep count, superset arrangement and duration (i.e. number of sets). I really go by feel. I know when my abs are done and that’s when I stop. I’m not nearly as regimented with my ab workouts as I am with resistance training of my other body parts.
Generally, my ab routine will last 10 to 20 minutes. I take very little rest during the routine.
Another type of ab workout is…
Yoga core workouts. I’ve done yoga classes with a focus on core that absolutely blew my mind. I couldn’t do it all, and I’ve been working out my abs for years. Yoga core work can be incredibly intense. If you want to do some serious abdominal development, try a yoga routine that focuses on working out your core. It will blow your mind (and you’ll get in some stretching as well).
What about incorporating resistance in an ab workout?
Adding a resistance element to your ab workout is excellent. You can use the ab machine, Ab Coaster, wrist/ankle weights, medicine balls, weight plates… you name it, to seriously increase intensity. This can supercharge your ab development.
Ab exercises are for everyone
Even the yoga crowd is into ab exercises. Regardless of your fitness goals, ab exercises should form a part of your fitness regimen.
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