86. Avoid Side Bends. Just like any other muscle, the abs also respond when stimulated with resistance. So unless you want to make your waist wider, avoid side bends at all costs. Skip the dumbbell side bends, weight plate side bends, or any other silly side bend exercise. You do not want to end up with a waist that looks blocky and wide. (Note: many trainers out there disagree with this tip and that’s cool…everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Honestly though, even if you think this is a great ab exercise (which it isn’t), just avoid it anyway because it makes you look like an idiot. No…really. It does.)
87. Maintain A Good Tempo. As with any exercise, ab movements should not be jerky, fast, or out of control. A good tempo must be maintained throughout the entire movement in order for the exercise to be effective. An ideal tempo would be 3-0-1 where the first number refers to the lowering phase of the exercise, the next number is the pause, and the third number is the lift. For example, a crunch done at 3-0-1, you would take 3 seconds to lower yourself, no pause, then one second to crunch upward. (Note: I know I referenced a “crunch” here but I don’t recommend crunches for everyone. If you have back problems you probably want to avoid doing crunches and sit-ups completely. See Tips #1 and #2)
88. Focus On The Lower Abs. Just about every abdominal exercise or motion involves an upper abs contraction. For this reason alone, building the upper abs is usually pretty easy, but as a result the lower abs can get neglected. Focus more on training your lower abs exclusively because lower ab training will still give you amazing upper abs as well. One of my favorite lower ab exercises is hanging leg raises.
89. Stop Doing Thousands Of Reps. I remember when doing 1000 crunches a night was cool. It seems like everyone was doing 1000 crunches a night back in the day and it was generally accepted as the best way to go to get ripped six pack abs. Unfortunately for us, we had it all wrong back then. After taking this sort of pounding for a while your abs just stop responding…and overtraining your abs like this can significantly increase your risk of injury (see tips #1 and #2). In order to effectively work your abs and avoid overtraining, keep your reps around 20 or less and add resistance to increase the difficulty level if 20 reps is too easy.
90. Maintain Strict Form And Go Down Slowly. I always use a slow and controlled descent when I train my abs. This method will carves deep into your abdominal muscle fibers and helps sculpt them. So always try to use good form, a natural tempo, a slow descent, and a controlled full range of motion. Don’t flop around like a fish out of water….all this does is make you look like a clown and does absolutely nothing for your abs.
91. Contract, Flex, And Squeeze. An often overlooked and underutilized method of enhancing your abdominal training is to flex the muscles while you train them. You cant just go through the motions, you need to squeeze hard while you perform any ab movement.
92. Train Abs With Intensity. I see way too many people go through a super intense workout…only to finish up the workout by training abs while goofing off and just going through the motions. Seriously…why not use the same level of intensity to train your abs that you would use when you train legs, or arms? If you’re going to be doing ab exercises you might as well do them right! Don’t just throw in a few sets of ab exercises at the end of your workout and call it a day. Abs are a muscle just like any other and must be trained as such. Always train your abs with focus and intensity…just be sure not to sacrifice form or tempo, and always maintain body control.
93. Don’t Use Twisting Movements. Performing twisting abdominal movements like holding a bar across your back and twisting is a surefire way to injure your back. I know Rocky was doing these types of ab workouts in his movies, but twisting abdominal movements are usually much more risky than they are effective.
94. Train Abs 2-3 Time Per Week. This tip is a bit controversial, but there is a method behind my madness. You see, abs are muscles too and they need time to rest and recover just like any other muscle. You can train abs a bit more frequently than you can other muscles…but training them more than 2 or 3 times per weekly is usually just overkill. I usually train my abs 1 or 2 times per week at THE MOST. Sometimes I’ll even go for weeks without doing a single “ab exercise”. (Note: If you would like specific ab workout frequency recommendations based on your goals see Tip #13).
95. Drink Water. I’m sure you’ve probably heard this one 1000 times before but I’m going to tell you once again. Our bodies are over 70% water and drinking water is essential for optimal health. Water helps prime the body for fat loss, and it can also help flush out harmful toxins. Not drinking enough can can increase your risk of water imbalances, dehydration, lowered strength levels in the gym, various diseases, and more nasty stuff. Drink between 64oz and 128oz of water daily (depending on your body weight). (This is pretty simple stuff and I really hope nobody asks me any ridiculous water macronutrient questions See Tip #78 and Tip # 85)
96. Stay Alkaline. When training to build six pack abs, many people get stuck using unhealthy depletion diets, various macronutrient loading diets, etc…and in the process disrupt the body’s natural acid/alkaline balance and become overly acidic. (This is quite common with high protein diets). You see, proteins are acid forming foods and we must eat alkaline forming foods (fruits, veggies, etc) to neutralize the acid wastes from protein consumption. This means that you should probably be eating a bunch more veggies with that chicken breast than you usually do! Finding a perfect balance can be challenging and confusing at first, but a good way to approach it is to try to maintain an 80% alkaline and 20% acid ratio. This means that in order to maintain a healthy, balanced pH, your diet needs to contain approximately 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods.
97. Focus On Getting Stronger. For many people, low rep strength training (6-8 reps) can be more effective for getting ripped than “fat loss circuits” where you do a ton of reps using lighter weights. The reason for this is simple: circuit training is completely useless if you’re too weak to benefit from it. So if you’re going to optimize your fat loss efforts and get ripped it will typically require you to get stronger first BEFORE you start circuit training. Light weights + zero power output = no results. Don’t believe the hype.
99. Stay Humble. Even if you’re the most ripped person on earth, nobody will care if you treat them like crap, act cocky, or behave like an asshole. Always remember where you came from, fatass. (We all saw those ‘before’ pictures)
100. Try To Keep It Fun. When training starts to really suck…it may be time to take some time off and recharge the battery. I am a firm believer that your workouts should not have to completely suck (unless you’re training for a UFC fight…which you are not).
101. Read This Blog Regularly. This is obviously the best tip in this entire series. Duh! So don’t fight it. Come back soon.
Thanks for reading. I truly hope you have enjoyed this 5 part blog series. Please leave your questions and comments below.