Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Everyone loves and WANTS Abs. The 6 pack is hands down the SEXIEST bit of kit on your body. So it goes without saying, Ab routines are the number one routine you see on Youtube and in the fitness world. But you have to ask yourself , why then do so many people not have six packs?
Abs are made in the kitchen
The first major misconception is that doing countless abs will get your 6 pack. No it wont. You need to lower your body fat percentage to see your abs.
I must admit when I was younger, I didn't want to change my diet, and me and the bois just hammered out as many abs as we could to get the shirts off in summer at Bondi Beach. But, I've seen the error in my ways and didn't realise how a good diet was key to not only your health but your Abs. We have discussed in several posts how the modern diet is affecting our society and health, so check them out to make adjustments to your diet.
In general, for men, you will need to get your body fat percentage to 10% to unveil the puppies. I don't think you need any machines or tests for this. Its a test in itself. If you cant see your abs, you either don't have them, or they are covered in more than 10 % body FAT.
As a general rule, at 10 percent body fat, you can see your 6 pack, and your veins from your arms to your shoulders. This holds for men aged 20-40 years, and is proven in several observational studies with correlation to more accurate measurements.
The Ab Routine forever, hmm maybe not
I think everyone will work hard at their Ab goals, but , it gets BORING.....FAST.
Everyone sees a sweet set of Abs on insta or at the beach, looks up on YT how to get them , hits them workouts hard, and after a month or so, the training starts to drop off. That loss of motivation hits hard.
It also hits hard for those who get the 6 pack. You reached the goal and the drive to keep smashing out the sets becomes difficult.
Mix it up bro
A key to my exercise regime is to keep changing the routines and changing them often. You might think, nah that's not me I wont get bored, but , can you honestly see yourself doing 10 minutes of abs daily for 10 years.....or longer. yeah i didnt think so.
Keep making adjustments to your routine, 10 mins, 4 mins, core workouts, different sports. It all helps.
But there is little chance you are covering all the angles and aspects of your core if you are sticking to one routine. Keep your routine fresh and keep learning how to train your core.
Abs are Sexy, BUT the Core is king
And lastly ab crunches which are the hallmark of many popular YT routines, are bad for you if you do them excessively. Abs are a grouping of several muscles. Rectus Abdominis, the Obliques, Transverse Abdominis and my fav the Serratus anterior. Yeah I think you have to include the Serratus. They honestly do look great, which is why we all push ourselves to exhaustion to get nice abs. BUT, doing this with repetitive crunching will cause imbalance in your core.
Your core is everything besides your arms and legs that stabilises your body, so essentially your trunk. It is essential to develop your core to become a beast at ANYTHING.
Beast Core Translates to Better Athletic Performance
Do you want to guard someone cross dribbling in your face so you dont fall over. Want to change direction and explode past someone in football or basketball. Want to hit the sweet drive in golf, want to smash that tennis serve for an ace, want to switch hands in the air and put in the lay up. Yeah that's all made easier by having a beast CORE. The most elite of athletes work on their core and have well developed core coordination. Your core isn't one muscle, its an integrated unit that must smoothly respond to whatever comes its way.
Calisthenics loves your Core
Calisthenics really has heaps of exercises to train that core with : Dead bugs, Hanging leg raises, DRAGON FLAGS, superman planks, bird dogs, the list is endless.
Mix up your ab crunches with a more core centric exercises and stop those imbalances building up. If you keep doing ab exercises you will cause an imbalance which will cause tightness and injury over time. Work your posterior chain as well as your anterior chain.
Try a Dragon flag as a true test of Core strength. Change it up with a human flag or some tuck holds and leg raises on the rings. We have a simple how to guide in our latest Core and Abs Series. Lets see how you can build that beast core. If you cant do a Dragon Flag, there is a easy beginner guide, on how you can build up to this, so there is no excuse now, get started.
There are really countless Fun exercises in Calisthenics to tone those abs and give your Core a fantastic workout.
1.Hsu SL, etal. Effects of core strength training on core stability. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Aug;30(8):1014-1018.2.Willardson JM, etal. A comparison of trunk muscle activation: Ab Circle vs. traditional modalities. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Dec;24(12):3415-21.3.Escamilla RF, etal, Core muscle activation during Swiss ball and traditional abdominal exercises. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010 May;40(5):265-76. 4.Escamilla RF, etal. An electromyographic analysis of commercial and common abdominal exercises: implications for rehabilitation and training. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2006 Feb;36(2):45-57.5.Gallagher D, etal`. Healthy percentage body fat ranges: an approach for developing guidelines based on body mass index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Sep;72(3):694-701.