Abs – The Ugly Truth
Each day you get up, go into the bathroom and look at yourself. You criticize, judge, and admire yourself all within a mere 30 seconds. You spend the rest of the morning thinking about your own criticisms and what it would take to make them into something you admire about yourself. For us, more often than not, we hear that it’s your midsection you’d like to change. I think in 2016 most people understand that you can’t really lose fat in only one area of your body, ie – your midsection. That being said, we’re going to look at some consumer theories and some ways to be more efficient in trying to reveal some muscle in your stomach.
Most people think that training abs will give them abs, because training the biceps or shoulders (etc), typically results in visible gains for that muscle group. With abs, it’s a little bit different. The revealing of the abdomen muscle is strictly relevant to body fat. You can have a high body fat and decent arms, but not so much when it comes to the abdomen muscles. Training crunches, planks, and other exercises may help with the development of the muscle, but if you can’t see it, it doesn’t matter. It also may not be the most efficient way to build the muscle, let alone reveal it.
When we first opened Coalition Nutrition we reconnected with John Dimartino – a physique competitor who coaches many others. We were talking about directly training abs.
We asked him, “what do you and your team do for abs?”
His response “Nothing”.
Our first thought was “well, you have some pretty good genetics” but then we realized that all of his athletes had different genetics, so that counter argument didn’t work. Maybe there was something to how he did things that make revealing abs/obliques much easier than the normal person we thought. After diving into the conversation more, we found out that John had his athletes train legs 2x a week during prep. So let’s take a look at what this actually does to the body.
- The most important thing during prep is calories in vs calories out. When training legs (let alone 2x/week) you’re expending a lot of calories performing those movements. Squats, leg press, romanian deadlifts, lunges, hack squats, V-squats, etc definitely don’t go on the “easy” side of the workout template.
- When performing these movements, you’re indirectly stressing your core muscles. Often times people with weak cores can’t perform these movements heavy, with good form, as it tends to make them break down.
- The frequency of training legs 2x/week keeps the muscles actively recovering/growing while you’re able to strip down fat.
The truth is, if you want to be a bodybuilder, bikini competitor, crossfit athlete, or just a normal person with some visible abs, the easiest way is to reduce body fat through diet and train compound leg movements frequently. If you don’t want to diet, you have to out-train your current caloric intake, which means training legs hard and heavy will be your number 1 priority. We all know training legs can make you feel debilitated for a while, but it’s a necessary evil to accomplish your goals.