One of the symbols of fitness in today’s world is six-pack abs. There is some debate about how to achieve this symbol of ultimate fitness, but the consensus is that one needs a combination of low body fat and strong core muscles to achieve it.
The Myth That Persists
Go to any gym in America and you’ll likely hear someone claiming that abdominal muscles are special and can be worked out on a daily basis. “Arnold Schwarzenegger,” some will argue, “did ab work every day.” Others will contend that because the muscles are small, they are much more resilient and can come back quickly after a workout.
The idea that sticks in the minds of many gym-goers, and even some personal trainers, that abdominal muscles differ somehow from other muscles in the body, is wrong. The logic goes: ab muscles are more resilient and therefore they can be worked hard on a daily basis. This logic, however, is flawed.
How Muscles Grow
We build muscles in three ways: muscle tension (applying load onto muscles that is more than they are used to), localized muscle damage (muscle fibers that require repairing), and metabolic stress (swelling around the muscles). An effective workout does all three of these. Muscle development, however, doesn’t happen in the gym. It happens later, as we rest. Our muscles need to recover from our workouts and as they do so they get stronger and grow. This is true for our quads, our glutes, and the muscles in our core.
Training Frequency & Tips
Abs are no different from any other muscle in your body which is why they should not be trained every day. To maximize muscle gain, your abs need rest days as well, just like the rest of your body. If desired, abs can be trained every other day, and two or three times a week is more than enough. In order to benefit from all your hard work, make sure you give all your muscles adequate rest.
Here’s the good news: you should never do a traditional sit up or crunch again. Instead, perform compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and Core Flyte plank pikes, because these exercises engage your whole core. Core Flyte exercises engage all core muscles and hit them from different angles without annihilating them. So, we can add a core component to our regular workouts without overdoing it.
Six-pack abs are seen when the rectus abdominis muscles, two parallel muscles running vertically, each separated by horizontal connective tissue bands, are prominent due to low body fat. Good nutrition is a prerequisite for seeing those abs. You can have the world’s strongest core, but if you don’t eat well and keep that body fat low, a pillow of fat will hide your treasured muscles. You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” This is doubly true for getting that visible six-pack. Low body fat enables our abdominal muscles to be visible and help our muscles recover and grow.
So, the next time a buddy or training partner suggests crushing your core in daily workouts, you have some ammo in the form of facts to use in response.
And remember, even if your abs are not visible, they exist. It is important to train them in order to receive the many functional benefits of a solid core.
We’d love to hear from you. How often do you train your abs? Comment below or on our Facebook page or tweet us at @flytefitness.
Be Flyte Fit,
Contributing Writer, Flyte Fitness
Certified Group Fitness Instructor & Personal Trainer
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