The Truth About Six Pack Abs
By: Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer
Among the fitness myths and misinformation comes a lot of surprise
training recommendations from the real experts. Without the real
experts, we'd all be stuck doing 60-minutes of cardio five times
per week rather than faster, more efficient intervals.
And the world of ab training is a jungle of bad information. But
last summer I spoke with a coach named Mike Geary. He's a Certified
Nutrition Specialist & a Certified Personal Trainer dedicated to
showing your better ab and fat loss methods.
You might have come across Mike's info in Muscle & Fitness Hers
Magazine, or even read his wildly popular & controversial book The Truth
About Six Pack Abs
Today, Mike has some surprises for you...
CB: Mike, what got you into training and helping others?
I just love helping people with this area of their lives, as not
only does it improve their outward appearance and confidence, but
more importantly, improves how they feel and their internal health,
helping them to live longer and healthier lives. It's something I'm
very passionate about.
CB: Okay, so where does the average man or woman go wrong when it
comes to training abs?
Most people are probably going to be surprised with this answer.
In their quest for 'six pack abs', the biggest mistake I
see people making is wasting WAY too much of their time training
their abs directly... pumping away with all kinds of different
I'm sure you know what I'm referring to. The person is trying so
hard to get those abs to show, that they're spending almost all of
their time in the gym with hundreds of reps of various crunches,
leg raises, twisting exercises, etc.
CB: Right, I see a lot of wasted time in the gym. So what's better?
All of that wasted time directly training the abs could
have been better spent on a properly designed full body workout
program that would elicit a much better metabolic response and
increase the fat-burning hormone levels in their body as well.
After all, losing the stomach fat that is covering the abs is the
MOST important aspect for most people to finally be able to make
their abs visible. Unfortunately, pumping away with hundreds of
crunches and leg raises does NOT cause much of a metabolic or fat
burning hormonal response.
The essential metabolic and correct hormonal response is the
main focus of my The Truth About Six Pack Abs book... full body
training programs and proper nutrition to strip off that stubborn
belly fat and reveal the six pack that's hiding underneath!
Of course it wouldn't be an abs book if I didn't focus on ab
development too, but I make sure firstly that the most important
concepts for lasting body fat reduction are understood.
CB: Do you see any gender differences in mistakes they make? And
more importantly, do you see any gender differences in the response
to various types of ab training?
To be honest, I don't really see any need for men or women to
train differently. Bottom line... the best exercises are the best
exercises regardless of gender.
However, in regards to mistakes I see between genders... Yes, I
tend to see women more often are deathly afraid to use weight
training with anything but really light weights. That is a shame,
because THE most effective way to gain control over your body fat
for life, is to maximize your lean muscle that your body carries,
as well as working that muscle hard through intense resistance
CB: So do you have some specific advice for women?
It's important for women to realize that regular strength training
using heavier resistance will NOT "bulk them up" (as long as
caloric intake is controlled), but rather is one of the key secrets
for losing body fat and staying lean year-round. As a matter of
fact, some of the leanest females that I've trained over the years
are the ones that aren't afraid to work hard with the weights.
I also notice that most women (and a lot of guys too) spend way too
much time with slow cardio exercise. This is simply not necessary,
and the way I combine high intensity resistance training into full
body routines provides enough of a "cardio" workout in itself
usually. We'll get back to this in a minute though.
I've separated my site into men and women's areas, just to make
sure I've covered everyone's specific needs.
CB: What about old school sit-ups? Do you use these? Are they good,
bad, or does it "depend"?
Sit-ups are a controversial topic. I don't think they're good
or bad per se, but rather "in between". I didn't include them in my
program. I simply don't feel they are necessary, and I think there
are much more effective abs exercises to focus on. Personally, I
almost never do sit-ups except occasionally for a little variety
every now and then.
CB: Give us a weekly sample ab training program. How many days per
week? What are a couple of the best exercises you'd pick? How many
sets? Reps? Rest?
Well, first I'd like to point out that the full body movements
that make up the majority of my programs indirectly work the abs
and the entire "core" area to a fairly decent extent. However, I do
include abs-specific exercises into the routines generally about
twice per week.
The "abs-specific" portion of the workouts generally only take
about 5 minutes at most with very little rest between exercises.
Once people are past the beginning phase of gaining some initial ab
strength, I try to get them away from the exercises that are too
easy, where someone can do 50 or 100 reps, as is frequently common
with standard crunches.
Instead, I like to focus on higher resistance exercises that
actually stimulate the muscle fibers to a much greater degree.
CB: Such as?
One example of a higher resistance abs exercise is hanging leg
raises with a proper "pelvic curl up". It's funny but usually
someone that has been wasting so much time with hundreds of reps of
crunches can usually only do a few solid reps when they first
attempt some of these higher resistance exercises.
We also make sure not to neglect some rotational movements, as well
as some work for the deeper muscles like the transversus abdominis.
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