Maybe you’ve heard it. Maybe you haven’t. By what I see in the gym each day, I would suggest that you either haven’t heard, or just want to ignore the information. The secret is about core training and your six pack. They are not related. Doing those 200 crunches at the end of the workout may give you a burn, and make you feel like you are shredding up your stomach, but it is only increasing the endurance of your abdominals.
The truth is, your abdominals, as muscles, are different than a lot of other muscles in your body because they cannot hypertrophy (grow) very much in response to exercise. If they did, you’d see some people with abs that shot out of their torsos and extended for about two feet. Wouldn’t that be weird? Anyways, the point is, that doing an exhausting amount of core work at the end of your workout may help build core strength, which is important for a lot of things, but it won’t improve the chances of seeing those bottom two, four, or six abs.
So what am I trying to get at? Don’t waste your time. The truth is, we all have a fixed amount of work we can do, or time we can spend in the gym. Having a 6 pack is about having a low body fat percentage, not strong abs. So let’s go\ over a few things that can help you lower your body fat percentage and start to see more of those abs…
– High-Intensity Circuits
I know the first two things look like they contradict each other. You might also be asking why I didn’t list jogging. Here is the deal for cardio for body composition. Jogging and other steady-state forms of cardio work can help you, but they are not the most effective, and it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. Jogging may be more effective than walking, but not as effective as sprinting. Sprinting can really wipe you out physically, but it needs to be done if you want major changes. Walking won’t really fatigue you very much, but used effectively can give you a very nice boost in burning excess body fat. In the middle is jogging, which tires us out, burns a little bit of fat, but ultimately serves to waste time. High –Intensity circuits are a fantastic strategy for improving body composition but require good planning. They involve doing exercises that use a lot of muscle, but taking very short rest periods between working sets. This provides the body with a dose of resistance training, and cardio at the same time, proving to be the most effective approach.
The way to get the best results is to put all 3 approaches together. Try to make at least one of your resistance training workouts each week a high-intensity circuit style workout. At the end of one or two more workouts, do 8-12 sprints, either outside, on a rower, bike, or treadmill. When I say sprints, I mean sprints, so make sure you are going all-out or very close to it. Finally, add 25-35 minutes of brisk walking 2-3 days a week to put the cherry on the top. Whether you are sore or not from previous workouts, you can always pop out and try to take on a brisk walk.
Tying this all together, instead of wasting your time with 200 crunches at the end of your workout, or 5 different core exercises, try using strategies that will help burn more body fat. Do one intense core exercise to get that work in, then move on to some sprints!
Cory Kennedy is a co-founder of Razor’s Edge Performance, a training and sports nutrition company that uses the most effective and efficient ways to improve performance and reduce injury. Cory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org