THE H.U.G.E. GYM CLASS: ABDOMINALS

The top five ab-training mistakes and how to correct them.

In the ’80s, when they started appearing on everyone from Tom Cruise to Madonna, muscular middles went mainstream. Hard cores were no longer hardcore. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s era, some champs worked their abdominals for 30 minutes daily. For some of today’s pros, crunch time only comes precontest. This article is for nearly every bodybuilder, from gym novices to Mr. O competitors, because most of us are letting our abs off easy. This month, we’ll examine the most frequent midsection mistakes and lay out ab solutions for making your center the center of attention. Class is in session.

MISTAKE #1 Ab neglect

EXPLANATION

Bodybuilders might neglect abs because they assume they can chisel them in the next time they diet down. For them, the three Cs — carb restriction, cardio and crunches — go together like bacon, lettuce and tomato, and when their middles are not being defined, they figure, why bother? Another reason for neglect: even when bodybuilders do train abs, they tend to tack low-intensity sessions onto random workouts, and because those workouts accomplish little, they can be skipped with little guilt. Just as there are two main reasons many bodybuilders neglect abs, there are two main reasons not to.

First, core strength is necessary for key mass makers, such as deadlifts and squats. Second, you cannot maximize ab muscularity with a crash course. Instead, you need to grow — or at least maintain — these muscles year-round.

SOLUTIONS

  • As with other muscles, set goals —from how you want your middle to look to specific rep and resistance targets.
  • Twice per week, give your abs the same focus as other bodyparts. If you do cardio separately from your weight workouts, an excellent time to hit abs is before cardio, or you may want to ab up in a separate workout at home.
  • Do eight to 12 sets for your rectus abdominis and three to five sets for your obliques.
  • If you’re in a rush, superset abs with other bodyparts or do all your ab exercises as a giant set with no rest between exercises.
  • To avoid the “Why bother?” blahs of endless crunches, infuse your ab workouts with intensity — which brings us to our next mistake.

 

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