Before I get into this week’s Training Tip, why not beat around a few of my favorite, always entertaining ab myths that still seem to haunt me after all these years. I’ve now come to terms and accepted that these will never go away. But I will try my hardest to exercise patience when they are dropped on me ?
Coach Sean’s Top 5 Ab Myths
1. The more you train them the better they’ll look. False. Just like any other muscle, more isn’t better and they follow the same stimulate, rest, recover cycle like anything else.
2. Training abs will give you a thick waist. Not really. There are far bigger culprits to thickening the waist than doing the occasional core workout. Eating big meals, taking certain supplements and overdoing heavy compound lifts too frequently and with incorrect breathing techniques are far more likely responsible.
3. Most of my fat is around my waist so I need to train abs more. No you don’t. What you need to do is diet a little harder and sprinkle in some HIIT cardio to blast your fat stores. You’re wasting your time in the gym training abs any more than twice per week.
4. I train lower abs one day and upper abs the next, then sides the other day. Smh….no. That’s not how things work. When your abs contract then tend to contract as an interconnected complex group of muscles, not individual, compartmentalized separate entities. Train your abs, then rest. No need to split everything up.
5. My abs suck, so there’s no point in ab training. Sure, and why not give up on anything else in life that doesn’t come easy while you’re at it. Be consistent ? While you can’t change the shape, insertion points and length of a muscle, you can always improve upon what you’ve got. Can’t see your abs popping? Then focus on hypertrophy workouts for the six-pack look. Got a thick waist? Go easy on the crunching and focus on core tightening instead.
That should shed some light on some of the more basic fundamentals of how not to do it and I wouldn’t be fair unless I also shared how I prefer to do it as well.
Coach Sean’s Ab-Training Fundamentals
While I’ll admit I’m not really big on ab training (Adam even less), I do generally have most clients do some type of ab/core work once per week to sharpen the details and make things pop a little more in some clients. As we all know, the amount of activation of the core muscles during many of the compound lifts like squats, bent over rows, deadlifts and overhead presses shouldn’t be overlooked. Perform these basic lifts properly with an awareness of the core and proper breathing technique and you can really think of this ab training a supplement or insurance policy to what might already be enough for most. So bottom line, I don’t always train abs, but when I do, here’s how I’d do it. Go nuts.
General Style – I’ve always preferred to hit the abs with a circuit style of training – giant sets or at least tri-sets and very rarely ever do standard straight sets. The abs are generally able to recover quickly and withstand higher amounts of volume with shorter rest intervals. The ideal ab workout for me would be 4-5 different ab exercises that stimulate the core through different angles, performed in a circuit with no rest between each exercise and 2-minute rest periods after the circuit. Try to avoid repetitive movement patterns with the exercises and to make things easier, you can move from lower, upper, transverse, overall, isometric hold. I’ve posted some examples of some of my favorite exercises below for you to assemble your own ab workout.
Sets & Reps – If doing a circuit like described above, go with 3-4 rounds and 15-20 reps per exercise. For static holds, do a minimum of 45 seconds and no more than 90 seconds to keep things moving.
Rep Cadence – for hypertrophy, I’ve always preferred ‘explosive with control’ and a strong mind-muscle activation engaged throughout. I think this is best for stimulating any type of hypertrophy of the rectus abdominis area. I’ll slow things down when doing the crunchless ab movements (see below) and use a much more controlled pace.
Workouts – For clients looking to make the six-pack muscles pop a little more (assuming they are lean enough to even see them), I’ll do one intense ab circuit every 5-7 days where you should be sore for 2 days afterwards if you’re doing it right! For clients just looking to tighten the waist and don’t benefit from having a glaringly obvious six-pack on stage (i.e. bikini), I prefer to stick to crunchless ab movements once or twice a week while incorporating breathing techniques and lots of iso-holds. For me personally – if I’ve got a shoot coming up, I’ll do one ab circuit and one crunchless ab workout per week in the final 4-6 weeks leading up to the shoot to sharpen the details. Any other time, one crunchless ab workout per week is plenty to maintain optimal core strength and function.
Crunchless Ab Exercises (core tightening)
Ab wheel rollouts
Benefits of Having a Strong Core
People often train the core in hopes of an aesthetic body. While it certainly feels good to look good, there’s much more behind a strong core than just a six-pack.
There’s a wide variety of useful benefits obtained from training the core. Aside greater strength, training the core is beneficial for multiple other aspects of fitness. On multiple disciplines, having a strong core is a must in order to achieve the most optimal performance possible.
Professional athletes perform strict abdominal training up to 3 times a week, including intense weight training and flexibility training.
Anyone who has committed to proper core training knows how difficult it is to train this group of muscles. Working the core has never been easy; but big efforts bring big results. For those who haven’t considered training their core, here are some of the amazing features they’re missing out on:
Functions of the Core
The abdominal area lacks a bone structure. Because of this, the only thing standing between the skin and internal organs is our core. Thus, the multiple muscles that compose the core act as a shield to compress and protect internal organs.
Each of these muscles serves a specific function. The “exterior” abs, rectus abdominus, are responsible of providing flexibility to the lumbar spine; but they also work as a muscle shield that protects the internal body. The “inner” abs, transverse abdominus, are responsible for protecting and compressing our ribs and viscera. Additionally, they provide stability to both the thorax and the pelvis.
Boxers not only train their core for fit purposes. A carefully worked core can significantly reduce the effectiveness of a punch to the stomach.
There’s one last group of abdominal muscles, called obliques. Just like abdominus, they are separated into internal and external obliques.
The external group is the most superficial one; it’s located along the lateral portions of the abdomen and provides flexibility and rotation. On the other hand, the internal group acts in opposition to the diaphragm assisting breathing and allowing the trunk to bend sideways.
The spine is supported by multiple muscles, the most important being the abdominal muscles and lower back. These muscles are responsible for spine stability; if they’re not properly trained, stability is affected.
While exercising, these muscles have to work harder in order to stabilize the spine. However, if the core lacks strength all the effort will be performed by the lower back. This usually leads to lower back pain.
On the other hand, a strong core helps to remove tension and stress on the lower back while still improving stabilization. If the spine is properly supported, balance is improved. The core is also responsible for the stabilization of the hip, which comes in very handy for injury prevention on multiple sports, and even daily activities.
The abdominal muscles are in the center of the body; hence they’re referred to as “core”. Basically, the core is the connection between the upper and lower body. Any motion that involves both parts has to engage the abdominal muscles.
Athletes train their core in order to reach the most optimal performance, as it plays an important role in many aspects of their fitness. The abdominal muscles improve the coordination of motions and extremities for both athletes and non-athletes.
Professional basketball players go through intense core workouts, as it has a considerable impact on their jumping capability.
Running, jogging, jumping, boxing; it all starts at the core. The core has a role even on the most simple motions, such as walking. One would normally think the extremities do all the work; the legs while running, the arms while swimming.
That’s not the case.
Most of the motions start from the core, and move outwards towards other muscles and extremities. A rock-solid centre guarantees strong movements and coordination to perform both sports and daily activities.
The core isn’t easy to train; but it’s definitely worth it. Not only does it improve athletic performance, but it also improves multiple daily life aspects.
Keep in mind that each abdominal muscle meets a certain function, thus each muscle of the core should be trained equally. It’s a huge mistake to target only the external muscles, as not training inner muscles will lead to muscular imbalances, which can cause injuries on the long run.
Additionally, training a portion of the core won’t bring as much benefits as working it as a whole. Aesthetics are important, but functionality should be the priority.
This part of the body plays an important role on the general structure and should be trained at least twice a week. Whether it’s through weight training, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), or simple aerobic activities, training these central muscles will bring results.
Athletes who skip core training make a huge mistake. Out of all people, athletes are the ones who can probably get the most out of a strong core. Training these muscles is key to achieve the most optimal performance in almost every athletic discipline.
Once the core is strong, every other aspect of fitness will fall into place.
An entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultramarathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick, FightingReport, GearWeAre and TheGearHunt. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.
The Guy's Five-Day All-Round Workout Routine For 2016
Guys, it’s nearly 2016, and you know what that means. New goals, more effort, and better shape. The new year is the best time to get back into the gym, and back into your routine. Your fresh with motivation and ambition, so let’s take advantage of that.
We also know that working the same muscle groups day-in-day-out isn’t effective. Your muscles need a full day of recovery to rebuild and repair. Getting on the bench press every day isn’t going to help here. We need to break those muscle groups down, and focus on one each day. That gives them time to heal, while you’re working on the next group. Make sense? Here’s how it breaks down.
Monday - Chest and back day
Chest workouts are our favourites, so we like to put them right at the start of the week. We’re talking about flat-bench barbell presses, and incline bench presses. Remember to focus on slow movements, and get your technique just right. Otherwise you’re doing yourself no favours. Throw in a few cable crossovers, and try some bodyweight exercises like push ups. You can also add a few back workouts into the mix. Try some wide-grip pull ups, and a narrow-grip lat pull downs.
Tuesday - Core
Core workouts are one thing that a lot of guys skip. Many of us focus on arms and chest, but forget that most of your all-round strength is in your core muscle groups. These are your abdominals and side muscles. The best workouts here are bodyweight holds. Try a series of plank positions, and hold each for at least a minute. Do some slow movement crunches, and a powerful burpee workout (the hardest workout out there!)
Wednesday - Fitness and cardio
It’s time to give the weights and muscle building a break, and focus on fitness and cardio. It’s a crucial part of your workout routine, and much better for your overall health. If you struggle with the running machine and cycling, enrol for some fitness classes. Try the notoriously difficult bootcamp classes, or join a spinning class for ultimate cycling!
Thursday - Leg day
Muscle building guys are always guilty of missing leg day. What you end up with is a stacked chest and arms, but tiny legs! You’ve got to balance out this routine, and get your lower half in prime condition. Start with a series of squats to engage the glutes and your primary leg muscles. Use the leg press, and do slow sets of leg extensions.
Friday - Arms and shoulder day
We like to finish the week on another powerful workout. The arms and shoulders are closely linked to chest and back. So it’s a good idea to spread them out, and leave plenty of rest days in between. This workout is all about biceps, triceps, and shoulders. We’re talking about curls, extensions, and military barbell presses. Yeah, you’re going to feel this one in the morning!
And that’s the week complete. Remember to take a full rest day on either Saturday or Sunday. You can fill the gap with some light cardio or sports, but don’t over-exert yourself. Let those muscles rebuild.
Serena Williams Like You Have Never Seen Her via @nymag
Check out these gorgeous photos that Serena Williams posed for in a recent article for @nycmag She is definitely going to break the internet with the photos. We think she looks absolutely fabulous. What a unique shoot and check out her little pooch on the tray table! Isn't he adorable.
Not much to say here folks. WOW. Why can't all pro athletes look like this in their underwear. Thank you Ronaldo for our daily does of fit and sexy! Ladies? Do you agree? Is he hot or not?!?! I personally would like to thank the photographer who took this shot. But that's just me.
A plank is one of the best exercises that help with core strength. According to www.Bodybuilding.com a plank is and it is also known as a prone iso abdominal exercise. This is is a body weighted exercise and no equipment is needed. It is one of the top five abdominal exercises to use when strength training the mid section to develop a strong, toned, sexy core. The plank is a static abdominal exercise. This means that you simply need to hold the position for it to be effective.
The plank should be added into your exercise routine regularly no matter what fitness level you are at. The stronger your core is the less back pain you have, the better your posture will be, and the more stable your body will be in every day positions. The more often the plank is performed in your exercise routine the easier it will be to get a tighter stomach and lean waist line.
How to Plank:
1. Make sure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders.
2. Keep core tight (that means pull the belly button into the spine) and do not hold your breath.
3. Evenly distribute your weight on both the right and left foot and keep your back flat creating a table like position.
4. I always recommend 3 sets of these and to hold for a duration of at least 30 seconds or until failure. According to www.bodybuilding.com if you want to increase the difficulty of your plank, an arm or leg can be raised.
I want to motivate anyone that I can. So When you think you can't...you can. In the past two years I've had two knee surgeries, a motorcycle accident that gave me 7 stitches in my hand and 7 rounds of chemo for a tumor, worked full time with no disruptions and I still managed to do this. Someone out there has it worse than you, are busier than you, and they still find ways that they CAN. So stop making excuses and just do it. I don't care if you're tired, angry, sore, etc.... You will be happy that you did in the end.
Got An Exercise Ball? Try This Workout
Working out is challenging. Sometimes getting to the gym can be challenging, and if we workout on our own we don’t get that extra push that a personal trainer or an exercise class would give us. Do you have an old dusty exercise ball that you have had sitting around for months but havent touched? If you have an exercise ball at home here is a free DVD that you can follow. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced options for all of the exercises. This video was shot with Zenzation/Pur Athletics some time ago. It was a learning experience. Go check it out! #trainitright
Hanging Leg Lifts For Shredded Abs
If you want to strengthen your midsection forget the regular crunches! Lower abdominal exercises are often over looked in core training. They should be included in your program because they are great for spinal stability, injury prevention and your lower back. One of the best lower abdominal exercises is the hanging leg raise.
Start slowly so that you will have control. Remember that it is important to focus on quality over quantity. As you begin to raise your knees, think about curling your hips forward to facilitate the movement. The focus should be to engage your abdominal muscles, which are attached to your pelvis and not your legs. The legs are simply an accessory. Try not to swing. Keep your legs together, slowly raise your knees upwards towards the belly button. Then slowly lower your legs to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps. Over time once you have mastered the knee raise add in some variety and try one leg at a time, straight legs or even bring the knees to the left and right.
Abdominal exercises are an important part of a well rounded fitness program. Abdominal exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work together. When they are strong you have better balance and stability. Having well developed abdominal muscles not only gives you a sexy summer stomach but they can help heal most types of back pain.
Here is a great summer abdominal workout that you can do anywhere. This ab workout is designed to strengthen and tone your mid section. For this particular workout you do not need any fitness equipment at all! Make sure to perform all of the exercises slow and controlled so that you activate the abdominals properly.
The workout should be done three times per week, with at least one day off between workouts. Monday – Wednesday – Friday would be ideal. Try to do as many rounds as you can. Or Try and add these in where ever you can! Feel the burn! #trainitright
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