six pack workout

8 Pro Tips for Ultimate Abs

#5. Give Your Hip Flexors a Break

The hip flexors are a group of relatively strong muscles located near your hips on the upper thigh that help you bend at the waist and lift your knees. If you don’t pay attention to your form, the hip flexors will tend to take over during ab exercises, causing your abs to miss out on the strengthening benefits of the exercise.

To make matters worse, this can result in the hip flexors becoming short, tight and painful and eventually pull the pelvis forward and cause the lower back to become overarched. People typically shift the workload onto their hip flexors while doing ab exercises where the feet are anchored, such as sit-ups or decline bench crunches. If it’s your upper thighs that feel the most fatigued after a few sets of decline bench crunches, you’re doing it wrong.

To prevent overloading your hip flexors, you need to really focus on relaxing them while activating the abs. Also, strengthening your transversus abdominus by performing movements which call upon it to stabilize the body (e.g. planks) will help lessen the engagement of the hip flexors.

#6. Use Heavier Weights

Unlike some other large skeletal muscle groups, the midsection muscles contain a greater degree of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which is why many people think they should only train them with light weights for high reps.

However, this ‘rule’ is just as false as the one that says you should only train your biceps with heavy weights for a very low number of reps. In reality, your abs have fast-twitch muscle fibers too, and for optimal muscle development you need to adequately target them by using heavier loads for lower reps. Your gains are destined to stagnate if you only train within the same rep ranges and loading patterns, so you should alternate between different schemes to really sculpt your abs and achieve that three-dimensional look.

#7. Don’t Neglect the Obliques

If you want to develop a strong, muscular torso, training the obliques is a must. These muscles run along the sides of your core and help bend your torso to the side and rotate it to the left and right, as well as help stabilize and protect the spine by resisting rotation.

Unfortunately, most lifters spend little time focusing on their obliques and mostly ‘train’ them by performing endless repetitions of un-weighted side bends and twists. To really target these crucial muscles, you need to apply real resistance. Try rotary-type movements in which the line of pull is coming from your side, such as cable wood chops and Pallof presses, or movements that work the lateral plane such as hanging knee raises with a twist and cable crunches with a twist.

#8. Build Progression Into Your Training

If you’ve been doing the same unimaginative ab workout for the last 12 months and you don’t know why you’re not making any progress, you need to rethink your approach. A handful of exercises done for 2-3 sets of 20 reps at the end of a training session is not exactly what makes abs grow. First of all, you need to stop putting them last, as this is a sure way to undertrain them.

To get great results, you want to hit them hard at the beginning of the workout while they’re still fresh and unfatigued from assisting in other movements. Then, you need to apply the same logic you use when you want to see your bench press go up, called progressive overload.

As your abs get stronger, you need to keep progressively overloading them to increase the stress, prevent adaptation and keep on making gains. Increase the load, up the volume and intensity or switch to more difficult exercises. It’s really as simple as that.

No secrets or magical solutions here – only plain old hard work!

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