I realised I haven’t done a training post in a while because I’ve mainly been ranting and spilling my mind onto a page. Which is great – especially for me because venting is therapeutic – but I thought I should mix it up a bit.
And what better topic than abs?
This is a bit of a myth buster rather than a ‘top exercises for abs’ post, because I think – without sounding like my head is going to explode – that I am well versed in how and how not to get those abs popping.
So, first and foremost, why aren’t you seeing visible abs?
Mainly, body fat. You can train and train those abdominal muscles (and trust me I have been there) and not see them at all. Or only when you’re flexing like an idiot. You need to strip that fat first and for that you need to be in a calorific deficit. Nothing too heavy, but so that you’re dropping body fat over all because as we all know, spot reducing isn’t a thing.
And sadly, your genetics play a huge role too.
Genetics cannot be changed. You see people with visible abs all the time, but you should also be noticing how different everyone looks. Bulky abs, flat abs, wonky abs, more prominent obliques, a split down the middle, a flatter stomach but no real visibility.
Your genetics do play a part and sadly, for some, it means visible abs are harder to get. For me, unless I got stage lean (which I probably never will get), I’ll never see my lower abs. Mainly because my body wants to cling onto the fat, which I am okay with, Your body will naturally hold fat there, and around your hips, because us women are designed to carry babies and therefore our body is programmed to hold this weight (fat) on these parts.
But it si possible to get there and there abouts. Just because you are naturally slim with no muscle, or because you put on weight easily, is not a sign you should give up. That’s defeatist and we aren’t quitters, ladies. No we are not.
And we’ve all been there.
I myself have struggled and felt like I’ve tried everything. Even when I got a (nearly) flat stomach, I had no real visible abs. Why? From my experience – and this is the crux of the blog post, so pay attention – it was because I didn’t have overall muscle mass. I did cardio and trained abs and did a few other weights here and there, but nothing too drastic.
That all changed when I started to do real training splits. More ‘proper’ and traditional bodybuilding. More food, more muscle, and guess what? Abs. And nice abs too. Ones that you can see for the majority of the day (really, it happens) and ones which are nice and bulky.
And all it took was changing my mindset.
I think – as women – we can get caught up in wanting visible abs, and that being the be all and end all. But for me, my body composition changed when my mindset did. I wasn’t thinking about getting visible abs anymore. I was concentrating on building overall muscle mass and hey presto, the abs came along for the ride.
Now I’m not saying this will work for everyone, but I believe it’s quite apparent that the girls you see all over Instagram who have the best abs are the girls who are bodybuilders, competitors, etc. I.E: the girls who train all body parts and eat properly to build muscle.
Because that’s essentially what we are doing here: your abdominals are muscles and they need to be trained and fed. Not over trained, but trained and fed with food to help them grow.
So, how often do I train abs?
Twice per week. I do one circuit based session and one strength based session, and that’s it. I make sure, in these 15-20 minute max sessions, that I really hammer them. Keep the tension on them, ensure my form is correct, time myself and do as many reps in that period rather than doing 10 reps and not feeling much. I then eat enough food to help my muscles grow, and stay trim enough to keep the body fat off.
But it is a slow process.
My fitness journey began in January 2013, and I only saw visible abs by around April 2015. I went through so much during that period, but since the summer of 2015 I have been training properly, eating well, and, in turn, my abs have shown much more than when I was hammering my body with cardio, low carb diets, and endless sit-ups.
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting your body at its optimal point for performance, health, and wellness. Stress = your body will cling onto fat. Your body will plateau. You won’t perform well. Get your mentality right, and your body composition will follow. It’s a cliche saying, but trusting the process is so important. A 30-day ab challenge will not get you abs, a lifestyle will.
It’s a slower process than you imagine but a worthwhile one if it’s what you really want.