So do you need to train abs to get a six pack?
This is a question many guys are asking and are confused about.
Ah, training abs – one of the most debated topics in the bodybuilding community.
Abs, just to be sure, are the muscles in the core of your body near your stomach. It’s responsible for keeping your body balanced and stable.
It allows you to press, pull or squat weight while keeping your body in line. Some people feel that training these muscles directly is crucial given their importance in just about every exercise, not to mention it’s necessary if you want that coveted six-pack.
However, other people feel that abs get plenty of training from compound lifts like deadlifts and squats already and training them is pointless – you’re better off spending that time on other areas. So which side is right?
DO YOU NEED TO TRAIN ABS TO GET A SIX PACK?
DIRECT CORE TRAINING
In our opinion, training the core muscles directly is definitely the way to go.
It will improve their aesthetic not to mention you will be able to squat, deadlift, pull-up and bench more if your core is stronger.
When we train each day we set aside enough time to perform a couple abdominal exercises – focussing on either the upper, lower or obliques.
It’s important to note we do these at the END of the workout.
We need our abs to be at 100% for when we do the big lifts – if you do crunches before deadlift you will be risking a back injury since your abs will not be as strong to support your spine during the lift.
With that said, here are some of the abdominal exercises we feel are important to add in at the end of each training session:
ANTERIOR ABDOMINAL EXERCISES
These exercises generate movement in the core through flexion. Examples include crunches and leg raises. You can also perform static exercises like planks to work these same muscles in a different way.
ROTATIONAL ABDOMINAL EXERCISES
These movements involve twisting or rotating your spine. The obliques work both to stabilize the spine and also twist the body. Some good exercises to look at are russian twists and windshield wipers.
Every time you work abs, try to perform at least one exercise from each of these categories. This will help ensure that your abs grow in a more balanced way as developing imbalances can lead to injuries down the road.
THE ALTERNATIVE: NOT TRAINING ABS
You might be skeptical of our suggestion thinking that we’ve never actually TRIED going without direct ab work.
Well as it turns out you are wrong – we have in fact given this a try. We wanted to know for sure if training your abs indirectly through squats and deadlifts was sufficient.
We replaced our ab work with additional exercises for other body parts.
We kept all the compound movements like deadlifts, squats, overhead press, dips and pull-ups.
Each week we would test our 1RM for the main lifts to see how they’d improved compared with when we were on a program that involved direct ab training.
We aren’t saying this was a perfect test – obviously a statistician could pick this thing apart but we did our best to really try and isolate the ab exercises.
Over the next few weeks after cutting out direct abs work we noticed our compound lift growth slowed down and in some cases outright stalled – there were also many instances of minor back pain.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that it was the lack of direct abdominal training that was causing all of this.
We immediately reintroduced abs training into our routines and much of the back pain went away and we resumed our normal growth rate.