Genetics and/or an innately high metabolism give a person a pre-disposed advantage towards developing a sexy and desirable six/eight-pack of abs. However, there’s generally one thing that separates those who have good looking abs and those who don’t: a good diet. Most people eat too much to ever uncover a six-pack. The nutritional side of things is covered in other article (ie. Metabolic changes… and Basics/Fundamentals for getting shredded)
As for training, let’s first dispel the myth that the abs are some magical muscle group that’s unlike any other in the human body and need to be trained with higher reps than other muscle groups. Every skeletal muscle in the human body responds the same way. You can, and should, train your abs in the 8-12-rep range to increase their size and help them be seen.
Most everyone knows that spot reduction is a fallacy, yet people still think they can target each defined “pack” of their midsections. Truth is, our abs, while appearing separate and distinct, are really one long muscle, separated by horizontal bands of fascia that create the iconic “six-pack”. You may feel like one section is working harder than another, but the entire muscle is being trained to some extent when you do crunches and leg-raises. With proper form, you’ll get maximum activation of the entire muscle, from sternum to waistline.
Heavy lifting forces abdominal muscles to work harder to stabilize the body, as does balance and core work, but to promote maximum six-pack development, you need to isolate the abs with high intensity. Keep your exercise reps in the hypertrophy range and work on increasing resistance, just like you would with other specific body part programs.
In the workout below, a weight plate held against the chest can be added to decline bench and twisting crunches when bodyweight alone becomes too easy, and on knee raises, a medicine ball can be held between the knees. Before you add weight, however, make sure you can complete your sets doing each rep slow and under control.
|Exercise Sets/Reps||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Hanging High Knee Raise||3-8||4-12||4-12|
|Decline Bench Crunch||3-8||4-12||4-12|
Note: Perform this routine three days a week for four weeks, switching the order of exercises each workout. Rest 90-120 seconds between each set.