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One of the main reasons why people fail to get six pack abs is they do the same routine and exercises for a long period. After some time, these workouts do no provide enough resistance for the abdominal muscles; therefore they do not help to improve.
This is particularly true for those who always do crunches and other not so efficient abdominal exercises. Why? Because these only train a small muscle group. This way, they do not burn enough calories to get rid of the fat covering their stomach.
Consequently, it is important to spend more time on activities which demand the usage of bigger muscle groups. Great ones are various bodyweight exercises such as push ups, pull ups, squats etc. By doing them, your body works harder, and it burns more calories.
I do not say that abs workouts are not necessary, but they are beneficial for toning and strengthening muscles. Once you get rid of that fat covering your tummy, you can spend more time on these workouts.
How long should you train your abs?
A big misunderstanding is: the more you train your abs, the faster you have good-looking tummy. If you do exercises mentioned above to train your entire body and with that burn calories, it is enough to spend 10-15 minutes with ab training. (Anyway, even less time is enough, here are some 5 mins workouts.)
You can do the workout after or before your sessions or you may have it on a separate day with some cardio exercises. More about when to train your abs here.
I recommend having your core routine after your sessions considering that your muscles are warmed up so you can avoid lower back strains and other injuries. Besides, if you do compound exercises such as deadlifts, you require your core muscles to control the motion.
The downside of having an ab training after is that we are already tired, and we cannot focus on the movements accurately. Alternatively, you can begin with ab workouts on days when your work your upper body. These kinds of exercises do not need core muscles so much.
Lastly, you can have core training on a day when you do cardio. In my opinion, it is the greatest combination.
How often do you need to train abs?
Countless people think in order to get six pack abs, they must work them every day. This is a huge misconception as these sorts of muscles are the same as others. This way we should stimulate them like any other muscle groups.
I believe, inserting an intensive 5-15 minute abs training into your workouts 3-4 times a week is enough. If you over-train your core muscles, you will not be able to perform the motions correctly on your sessions. These muscles require resting as well to develop and recover.
The Importance of Increasing Resistance
If you want to train your core efficiently, you need to do activities which provide resistance. If you are beginner you can begin with easier movements such as crunches, sit-ups or standing ab workouts. Once, you get familiar with them you should continue doing harder ones to keep the progress.
You should do workouts which require your lower body such as hanging or simple leg raises. Most of the upper body abs exercises do not demand so much strength. Consequently, they do not work ab muscles so efficiently. Lifting legs is much harder.
A beneficial method is to combine these motions. Start with workouts that need your lower body and finish with ones that require your upper body.
Here is a picture to understand how different exercises train the core muscles.
To sum up here are the rules of a good ab workout routine.
- Do wide variety exercises to train your core in different angles and to get enough resistance.
- Train your abs 3-4 times a week.
- Do compound exercises and cardio to burn more calories.
- The training does not have to be long. 10-20 minutes is enough.
And if you want to get results focus on what you eat. You know “Abs are made in the kitchen”.