How do you build six pack abs?
Well, that really depends on your goal. See a lot of people are very focused on the look of a six pack and are only really interested in developing a washboard stomach so that they can impress members of the opposite sex. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that and everyone is entitled to work towards the goals that they are uniquely interested in.
The problem is, if you’re only training for looks, then you’ll end up missing out on the best results. Likewise, if you’re only training for strength – something that a lot of people end up doing accidentally – then you’ll be missing out too.
The key to success is to have a multi-faceted approach to your abs training – to train your strength, your definition and your resilience. Then there’s acceleration, anti-rotational strength…
So starting with strength, what is ab strength really all about?
Well, your rectus abdominis (the ‘six pack’ part of the abs) is really all about rolling your body up and bringing your head to your toes in that way. The best way to train the abs in strength is to perform this movement while pushing or pulling against resistance. One good option? Weighted leg raises, but only if you make sure to roll the abs as you perform them.
This will build strength and power in the abs which will help with other types of training. It won’t make your abs ‘bulkier’ but it may help with definition.
Next up comes your resilience, or your anti-rotational strength. This is your ability to keep the abs working for a long period of time (via the slow twitch muscle fiber) and to keep you rigidly in place. ‘Anti-rotational’ strength refers to your ability to keep the body straight and rigid against pressure and this is an area where resilience is very important. Med ball throws are useful for training here.
Acceleration is the explosive power of the abs. This relates closely to ab strength but you can train it even more specifically with a plyometric type of training. This will build those super-fast twitch muscle fibers and it’s key for athletes because it’s what will allow you to spring off in different directions suddenly. This is about performing movements fast.
Finally, your stamina – or your reactive capacity. This is like resilience but even further down the spectrum – this is the kind of resilience that allows your body to remain upright against the force of your posterior chain all day. This is the type that is crucial for general health and for pain reduction.
The Take Home Message
The take home message? Apply a ‘power builder’ type approach to your abs training. In other words, stop training your abs like a bodybuilder, like an athlete, or like a yoga instructor… and start doing all those things. This way your abs will both look better and perform better and you’ll be training all the twitch muscle fiber.
Throw in the right diet and some cardio to reveal them and you have the ultimate six pack training regime.