With summer in full swing, having abs is a hot topic of discussion. What goes into having poppin' abs, you ask?
Body fat levels absolutely impact if you have a visible six-pack. So keeping tight on your nutrition is key in order to show off all your hard work. Keep in mind, every person stores fat differently, so don't be discouraged if you are someone who holds fat in their mid-section. Keep pushing and progress will happen! Although abs are made in the kitchen, it doesn’t stop there!
What else goes into it?
The same way each person's body distributes fat differently, the way your physical abdominal muscles are built will influence how your stomach looks. If you browse REAL progress photos you will notice that the size, shape and insertion of the muscle can be drastically different.
Abdominals are muscles just like your biceps or glutes, so if you want them to make a statement then you’ve gotta work! The more developed and defined your abs are, the more shape they will have under your body fat. Even if you are training heavy compound movements, throwing in a few sets of direct ab training 3-4 days per week as a finisher is a surefire way to see progress. Not only does core work have aesthetic benefits, but it will also carry over into stability in your training, improve your posture and protect your back.
Using a high cable machine and a rope attachment, face away from the cable stack with your glutes pressed up against the machine. Hold the rope behind your head with bent arms and hinge at the hips, keeping your core engaged throughout the entire set. You can assist this by engaging your abs in a slightly forward position, as if you were tucking your belly button back to your spine. You do NOT need to come all the way up between each rep. Just keep constant tension.
On a pull-up bar, start from a still, hanging position. Raise your legs as far as you can while also engaging your abs. This could be touching your toes to the bar, legs straight to parallel or tucking knees to chest. Do whatever version you can comfortably perform without swinging or losing control. To increase difficulty, add a dumbbell between your feet.
Use an ab wheel or a barbell loaded with 45 lbs. or bumper plates. Rest your knees on a mat and in a controlled fashion rollout as far as you can without caving your back. Your hips to shoulders should remain in a straight line throughout the movements. Roll back in, and repeat.