Wondering what the best way to get abs is for your summer beach trip? You are not alone. I've been helping people get abs for year and this is one of the most frequent questions I get. There is a lot of confusion surrounding ab training, particularly on how much to train them and how often. It is really not that complicated though, and in this article I am going to clear it up for you. I'm going to let you know how many ab exercises you need, and how frequently you should be training them, in order to get great definition without getting bulky or blocky.
People typically either believe one extreme or the other, that abs need to be trained every day all the time or that ab training is not necessary and will make your waist bulky. Both of these are wrong, and will not get you the best ab definition. Too much ab training is just wasting time and could be causing other goals to suffer, and too little or none will make it hard to bring out the best definition in them.
First we'll address the abs-should-be-trained-every-day-all-the-time camp. People in this camp will attend ab classes where all you do is train abs several times a week, dedicate several workouts to abs each week, or do 100s of crunches every day. Once you have maximally stimulated muscle growth you aren't going to get any more out of additional ab exercises. This can be achieved with a lot less than 1000 crunches and 3 hours of ab workouts. It could even cause your ab definition to suffer, because most people need to burn fat to see their abs, and full body workouts are best for that. So if you are only or predominantly hitting abs at the expense of the rest of your body, you won't be burning as much fat and it will make it even harder for you to get ab definition.
The other camp will typically claim that training your abs will make you waist big and your stomach look bulky, and as a result ab training should be avoided entirely. I've even heard of people recommending against squatting and deadlifting to avoid any ab growth whatsoever. While working out your abs will certainly help develop them, it is unlikely that most people are going to gain enough muscle to make their stomach look too big, at least from an appropriate amount of ab training.
You'd have to do a lot more than a few sets planks and squats to get those abs...
So how often should you train your abs? 2-3 exercises 2-3 times per week is plenty to maximize development without overdoing it. If you are already working out 3 times per week you can just tack 1-2 ab exercises on to the end of your workouts. Remember, your abs get a lot of work on other exercises, so you don't need a ton of extra volume on them usually.
Some of my personal favorite exercises are planks, RKC planks, side planks, Russian twists, decline sit ups, and leg raise variants like roman chair or hanging leg raises.
Don't forget to address nutrition. If you want to show off your abs you will probably need to lose some body fat, so eat to reflect that. This is actually the most important step for most people.
Here is a sample ab workout you can use if you do full body workouts three days a week. Just add these exercises in for a complete ab workout.
Front Planks - 3 sets of 30-60 seconds each
Cable Twists - 3 sets of 10-15 (each side)
Roman Chair Leg Raises - 3 sets of 15 reps
Side Planks - 3 sets of 30-60 seconds (each side)
Decline Sit Ups - 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Happy ab training!
If you have any questions feel free to send us a message!