This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
There are lots of muscles that guys tend to overlook in their workouts—the brachialis, rhomboids, hip adductors, gluteus medius and minimus to name a few—but their six-pack isn’t one of them. If anything, most people skew in the other direction, hammering their core’s iconic frontman with a frequency and determination that borders on obsession—which is one of the reasons why so many of them find sculpting the classic washboard abs look so elusive.
To work your abs more effectively, you need to understand how it’s structured and how it functions. Running along the front of the body from the sternum to the pubic bone, the rectus abdominis (a.k.a. “abs”) is a sheet of muscle that’s divided into sections by tendons. You engage it every time you flex your lumbar spine to bring your ribs and pelvis closer together (think: crunch or sit up), and those divisions are what give the muscle a segmented “six-pack” appearance when you build it up.
Here’s the secret to doing that: Work the rectus abdominis like you would any other muscle in your body. Many guys don’t. They hit their abs far too often, with too many reps of the same few moves, and they believe that they can strengthen different sections of it (e.g., lower and upper) with different exercises (e.g., leg raises and crunch). You can’t. It doesn’t matter whether you do a leg raise or a crunch or a hollow hold—you’ll work the whole muscle from top to bottom every time.
Your move: Target your abs two or three times a week (but no more than that) with a variety of moves that hit it from multiple angles. Use a load whenever possible to follow the same progressive overload principles you’d use on other muscle groups.
You also want to make sure that you’re not doing more than 15 to 20 reps per set. So if you’re currently banging out 30 reps per set of the crunch, progress to a variation that challenges you to complete no more than 12 per set with good form.
Author: Trevor Thieme
Source: Men’s Health: The Muscle You Need to Train to Make Your Six-Pack Pop