Ask The Trainer #138 – 5 Days A Week For A 6 Pack?

Ask The Trainer #138 - 5 Days A Week For A 6 Pack?

QUESTION:

I’ve been on a mission to get a 6 pack for almost 5 weeks now. Just once in my life I would like to be able to say that I’ve been there. I do both cardio and weight training every day. I train each muscle group once per week. I’m in the gym 5 days per week, so I dedicate each of those 5 days to a different muscle group. The exception is my ab training. I’ve been hitting that after my lifting and cardio, because I really want to see some results this time. Do you think training my abs 5 times per week is too much? I would like to see some good results asap!  Thanks in advance!

Darrin


ANSWER:

Hi Darrin. I think most people reading this right now can relate to your aspirations with wanting to obtain a chiseled 6-pack. Understandably so. Sporting a set of deeply carved abdominals is the insignia for maximum physical conditioning.

There is a lot of confusion over the proper way to get ripped abs. One thing I’m going to call you out on right away is that training your core and abdominals 5 days per week. Not only is it unnecessary, but it will likely work against your cause. You mentioned you train your other muscle groups just once per week, so why should your abdominals be any different?

Make no mistake about it, you can overtrain your abdominals just like any other muscle group. In fact, most people are oblivious to the fact they are stimulating their abdominals to a significant degree when performing multi-joint exercises that require stabilization of the core.

This is especially true with exercises like squats and deadlifts, where your core and abdominal muscles serve as a bridge of sorts between your upper and lower body to maintain form and stability throughout those movements.

Additionally, any exercises you do standing up, like standing shoulder presses, will trigger your ab muscles to be recruited as stabilizers. It’s a similar situation with chin ups. The pre-stretch involved in that movement will set the muscles fibers of your abs on fire if you execute it properly.

In fact, it isn’t uncommon for my abs to be much more sore the day after doing chin ups than the day after training abs. The same can also be said when I’ve done straight arm lat pull-downs and dumbbell pullovers. Again, there is tremendous amount of core and abdominal stimulation involved in supporting your core throughout these particular ranges of motion.

That said, I’ve met several individuals with sensational looking abs who haven’t done an actual abdominal exercise in years.  And not because of luck. They just understood that their abs were already receiving adequate amounts of stimulation from other compound exercises in their lifting routines. Plus, they always keep their caloric intakes in check. This ensures that their bodies never have a large enough surplus of excess calories to synthesize a layer of fat thick enough to eclipse their abdominals.


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This is actually the most significant part of obtaining a 6-pack! The most well engineered workouts on the planet will do nothing to help you achieve your objective if you’re not burning more calories than you consume each day. You must follow a consistent, calorie deficit if you’re really serious about having a set of 3-D abs!

How Often

Depending on how viciously you attack your abdominals, I think 1-2 abdominal workouts per week will be more than sufficient. One of the biggest mistakes I see people making in the gym is performing 3 different ab exercises that work the exact same section of the abdominals. At the same time, they neglect the other 2 main sections of their abdominals.

For example, I see people doing machine ab crunches, sit-ups, and then standard stomach crunches. All 3 of these exercises target primarily the upper abdominals, while doing little for the lower abdominals or obliques.

Again, I think 3 ab exercises is sufficient. Just be sure to cover all 3 sections of your abdominals with those 3 exercises…

Upper Abdominals (select one of the following): Standard Crunches, Knee up Crunches, Roman Chair Sit-ups, Cable Crunches, Machine Crunches, Decline Sit-ups, Swiss Ball Crunches, or Sicilian Crunches.

Lower Abdominals (select one of the following): Hanging Knee Raises, Floor Knee Raises, Reverse Crunches, Stability Ball Roll-ins, V-ins, or Decline Leg Raises.

Obliques (select one of the following): Cable Wood Chops, Side Crunches, Russian Twist, Decline Sit-ups with Medicine Ball Twist, Bicycle Crunches, Dumbbell Wood Chop Crunches, or Dumbbell Front Bends.

There are a lot of variations to many of these movements. These are just some of the most common ones. As long as you have each section of your abdominals covered, you’ll be in good shape.

I generally recommend selecting 1 exercise for each section of the abdominals. Then perform 1-3 sets of each. I realize doing the same ab exercises can become boring after a while. So don’t be afraid to switch them up for the sake of adding some spice to your ab workouts.

If you like to use weight or resistance on your ab exercises, and go to complete failure, then 1 set of each is definitely sufficient. If you’re doing ab exercises without using weight or added resistance, I would implement 3 sets of each exercise.

For maximum abdominal development, shoot for 10-15 reps per set. If you find such a low number of reps is too easy, you can increase the difficulty by adding weighted resistance, or by performing your repetitions with a very slow cadence. This will definitely knock your reps way down!

At the end of the day, combining consistent exercise with a calorie deficit diet you follow over the long term is how you get a ripped 6-pack. Don’t become discouraged by those overnight success stories you often times read about in fitness magazines or online. These stories are often times exaggerated or even false.

Be patient with yourself and don’t expect too much too soon. Think in terms of months, not weeks to see really noticeable results. If I had to use one word to represent the secret of ripped abs, it would be: CONSISTENCY!

I hope this information helps answer your question. I wish you the best of success with your health and fitness goals!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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