Today’s Guide to Abs guest post comes courtesy of Galen Lundin, a trainer, amateur bodybuilder, and owner of Rapidtransformationtraining.com in Chicago.
Like Galen, I started working out because I was scrawny as hell and didn’t like the way I performed as an athlete or looked. Anyways, as a bodybuilder Galen has significant experience with training for your best physique and eye-popping abs.
I understand why many people gravitate towards crunches and tons of cardio. You feel a crazy burn that makes you think you’re losing fat and getting shredded abs.
Thing is, there’s a difference between “feel, and real.” Repetitive flexion on your spine combined with neanderthal posture is a spine killer. While spinal flexion isn’t all bad, overuse won’t get you tons of lean muscle, athleticism, nor burn fat.
To the point: Some flexion and cardio is okay, but it’s not the sole approach to getting the body you want.
Either way I think of myself as a middle-of-the-road dude with an open mind. Everything has it’s time and place when performed in balance– except El Camino’s – abdominal flexion and steady state included. That said, I prefer high-intensity bursts of energy like sprints and throwing around weights.
Enough of me though, I enjoyed this piece by Galen and I hope you do too.
I get it, you want abs.
Not once have I had a client come to me and say “Nah, I’m good, my abs are pretty much ripped, I don’t want to look too good.” Zip.Zero. Nada. It ain’t happenin’. The truth is everyone has abs, you just can’t see them because there is a whole bunch of fat covering it, kind of like a big parka on a cold winter day. So how do we get rid of this stubborn fat?
Diet will be covered in my free report below. This post covers the other hidden aspect for abs: How to train intelligently to show of your summer six pack.
GETTING ABS TAKES WORK.
People often complain about not having the body they want and typically here are the two factors:
1. Shitty diet
2. Shitty workout frequency
Here’s a typical client/coach conversation:
Client: “I can’t seem to lose this stomach fat!”
Galen: “Are you still doing cardio, tracking calories, and not skipping on workout sessions?
Awkward pause ensues. Crickets.
Client: “No.. BUT!!”
BINGO. BOOM. POW. The dagger in my heart.
While disappointing, It’s not entirely their fault. People are lead to believe that you can get “flat abs in 7 minutes a day.” False advertisements cover your grocery store shelves with the rest of the instant gratification treats. This works for quick sales and shady business, but you need to put in the work to get abs.
If you’re only working out 1-2x/week Abs aren’t for you. Even if you’re EXTREMELY disciplined in your nutrition to the point of measuring every grain of rice you’d be hard-pressed to find abs. Plus, you’d hate life.
The Training Guide to Abs
I hate to break it to you, but traditional cardio isn’t the answer. Far from it. Excessive plodding cardio leads to the following effects:
- minimized recovery from a previous workout
- Increases cortisol (a stress hormone which can decrease fat burning)
- Burns A LOT LESS CALORIES THAN YOU THINK!
- Muscle loss, but minimal fat loss.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t run ever. Far from it. Running it’s not the death-sin that most portray, but it isn’t the answer for fat loss and getting your abs to pop.
Galen’s Recommendation: I recommend walking at an incline so your heart rate stays around 65% of your maximum heart rate. Your max heart rate can be calculated by taking 220-(your age)= Max HR. Try keeping it at this level for 30-45 minutes 2-3 times per week as well as high intensity interval training.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best cardio option for shredding fat. Research suggests that short bouts of high intensity exercise or high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective and time efficient that plodding steady state cardio (Laforgia, J. et al). An interval for example would be sprinting for 30 seconds then resting for 30 seconds.
Take a look at an Olympic sprinter vs. a marathon athlete- who looks better? The sprinter, obviously.
Partly to genetics and greatly to training, sprinters have lean, muscular physiques whereas marathon runners are scrawny, have little muscle mass and are riddled with high cortisol level.
The takeaway: Focus on the most effective exercises like deadlifts and squats, then hammer home HIIT exercises like sprints to shred fat all over your body.
Warning: This type of training isn’t for the faint of heart, it will be challenging both physically and mentally, but it will make you leaner, stronger and sexier. HIIT can be performed with nearly any tool in any environment. My favorites are:
- Sprinting outdoors or on a treadmill
- Using kettlebells for timed circuits
- Bodyweight exercises such as jump squats, mountain climbers, burpess etc…
- Battle ropes
- Sandbag Training
HIIT is typically performed in intervals, exercising for a set period of time followed by incomplete recovery– Exercise for 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest would suffice. The intervals can be set up however you like but it is important that you go “all out” during the sprint stage. If you can perform more than 10 minutes of HIIT you are not training hard enough.
Complexes are an effective means for fat loss and additional training volume. These incorporate compound movements one after another in one giant fat-shredding set. These compound movements are performed with dumbbells, kettle bells, and/or sandbags.
Here’s an example of my most favorite complex.
P.S. It totally blows.
Eric’s Note: Based on the name, I would think so. The Bears generally do 😉
THE BEAR COMPLEX
- 5 deadlifts
- 5 bent over rows
- 5 hang cleans
- 5 overhead presses
- 5 squats
Eric’s Note: For more on complexes Check out my post here
Read my lips: Doing tons of sit ups won’t give you a 6-pack or get rid of love handles. Old school ab training isn’t exactly the best thing for your spine. Excessive loading while bending may send one of your discs shooting out of your spine like cannon. This type of traditional ab training is especially bad for desk-jockeys who already have a hunch-back posture. Abs play numerous roles to help you perform better, improve health, and make you look hot as hell. There’s more to them than flexion exercise like sit-ups. Think of the abdominals as an “anti-movement” muscle group– they prevent movement. The main purpose of the core is to stabilize the spine in a “home” or neutral position.
Here’s an analogy for you:
Imagine your core is an empty water bottle. Squeeze it and guess what happens? You crush it. Now take that same water bottle and fill it with water. Now try to crush it… Unless you’re a polar bear the water bottle stays intact from the external forces.
That full water bottle is how your core protects your spine.
What the hell Galen, this is a Guide to Abs and I can’t do crunches?!
Hold your horses Seabiscuit. I’m not saying you should never do traditional ab work, but the role of the core or “abs” has a completely different role than people traditionally think.
We break it down we have four main ab training categories:
a. Lateral rotation flexion
a. Lateral flexion
3. Anti-Lateral Flexion
a. Lateral rotation flexion
4. Hip flexion with neutral spine
a. With spinal flexion
Here are some video examples below:
1. Anti rotation
4. Hip flexion with neutral spine
Out of all these movements the flexion movements should be trained sparingly and try to focus on all the “anti” movements. To create a routine, pick an exercise from each group (1-4) and perform 2-3 sets.
Here’s an example workout:
1.Ab Wheel or Ab Rollouts
2. Single Arm Dumbbell Farmer Walks
3.Cable Rotations with Neutral Spine
4. Swiss Ball Pikes
ABSolutely Awesome Wrap Up
For your best abs training is only one piece of the puzzle. Without training the definition in your abs will be harder to come by. By combining a sound, science-based approach to core training with a sound nutritional plan (below) you’ll have the perfect AbSolution. To get the full, in depth guide, check out the report below.
Check out the full Absolute Guide to ABS here:
Laforgia, J., Withers, R., & Gore, C. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sports Sciences, 1247-1264. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101527
About the Author:
Galen Lundin is an aspiring author, high advocate of the work hard play hard lifestyle and amateur bodybuilder. High nice-tough love approach to coaching allows you to get the body you want while having some fun along the way. Want more smart sexy ab training? Click HERE.