The Problem With Your Abs
Posted by Michael Vacanti
I’m sorry. Like, really sorry.
For years, I have said not to train your abs.
You will get all necessary abdominal work through squats, deadlifts and pull ups — floppin’ around on the floor is just wasting your time.
HOWEVER, I am returning to the round table of crunches, planks and leg raises with an open mind.
But first, let me tell you why I was so very against abdominal training.
WHY NOT TO WORK YOUR ABS
Most of the population (95%) still believes that TRAINING your abs will GIVE YOU abs — a six-pack — a Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Lautner, ahemmikevacanti, Ryan Gosling head-turning, jaw-dropping stomach that, in all honesty, gets dudes more hot n’ bothered than girls.
Sorry guys, it’s true, you want a six-pack much more than chicks care if you have one.
Although, ladies, I can’t say the same applies in reverse, we xy chromosomes are pretty visual creatures.
But nobody’s sole training motivation should be validation from the opposite sex anyway.
Back to that 95% – here is what I’m talking about:
Now, I don’t blame this guy. It’s a war-zone of bad information out there (the internet), and it has ingrained many false beliefs.
One of them being ab workouts lead to six packs.
The truth is, everyone has abdominal muscles; they are just covered by fat. You’re smart, so you probably already know this.
The way to see a six pack is by reducing body fat, not by performing endless sit ups and leg raises. This myth and others are explained further here.
It is painful watching people, like our facebook friend above, waste hours training their abs when all they really need is a calorie deficit.
So, I drew a line in the sand and took a staunch DO NOT TRAIN ABS approach.
Why You SHOULD Train Abs
Now that we have established that training your abs will not give you abs, let me tell you why you should train your abs.
First, here is a quick personal story: Sometimes it takes a real knockout punch to regain common sense.
I mean, Rocky suffered a second round knockout from Clubber Lang before regaining the title.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team before winning six NBA championships (yes, I know he really just played JV as a sophomore, go with it).
And Edmond Dantes was wrongfully sentenced to life in prison before rising to the top and owning his enemies.
After four years of proudly training my abs exactly zero times, I found myself locking out deadlift rep numero tres and *SNAP*. Oh, God. My. Lower. Back.
[[Wait, did you just compare yourself to Michael Jordan??]]
I “snapped my shit up” and was left bedridden for three days. It was disheartening missing repeated training sessions, barely able to walk and sidelined from deadlifts indefinitely.
Me, basically (Too long, don’t watch)
Even though I had abs, I lacked ab strength. My weak stomach was contributing to some pretty bad anterior pelvic tilt.
This is a common problem for a lot of people.
Anterior tilt vs. Posterior Tilt
Basically, when you deadlift or squat, your vertebrae compress. My overextended back (pictured above, left) had my spine pretty crooked increasing the risk of a ruptured or herniated disc.
And that sounds terrifying.
So, I had a reality check, much like Edmond Dantes after his failed suicide attempt, and decided to take control of my life.
Wow, it got a little dark there. I guess I really just took control of my posture, ab strength and ability to deadlift. But that’s still sorta important.
TRAIN YO’ DAMN ABDOMINALZZYZYYZ
Ab Strength Benefit #1 – Progress on Lifts
You need to be strong from head to toe if you want to keep adding weight on any compound movement.
Look at the squat: If you break down at any point – from upper back weakness to ankle inflexibility – you will either fail the rep or neglect proper form.
Having a strong core is necessary for progress on deadlifts, squat, bench press, rows and nearly every other move.
Ab Strength Benefit #2 – Avoid Injury
This one is pretty straight forward, and I don’t want to insult anyone’s common sense.
The abs are stabilizers for nearly all exercises, they protect the spine, and a spoonful of every other five benefits of core work article that’s been written.
Train yer abs, get less hurt.
Ab Strength Benefit #3 –
AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE, YOU MIGHT BE THIS GUY, AND YOU REALLY, DEFINITELY DO NOT WANT THIS
“I mean… for you to get hit in the stomach like that, and go down, you gotta have a soft ass stomach.”
Keep This ACTIONABLE
Below is an ab circuit that I want you to try out. It takes about 10 minutes. You can do this 2-3 days/week at the end of your training session.
Now, if you aren’t concerned with posture, injury, athletic performance or general competency at life – then keep not training your abs. You’ll be a beautiful piece of glass, six-pack and all, just waiting to shatter.
AGREE? DISAGREE? ALREADY TRAIN ABS? LET ME KNOW WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! COMMENT BELOW.