We all want to get abs to pop, and take it from me, it isn't easy. It took me a long time to get to where I am today. But along the way, I learned there are some myths about how abs are created, and as long as you're buying into those myths you'll never know the true secret to getting abs!
For example, you could be doing 1,000 crunches a day, but the problem is those don't make your ab muscles BIGGER, they just give them better strength and endurance, which is nice…except for the fact that your core already has to be pretty strong, or you wouldn't be able to support yourself and you'd be walking with your head between your legs!!
As functional strength coach and founder of Aspire Fitness, Brian Bott, says, you aren't really meant to be extending your spine over and over again the way crunches will force you to do. You know your dad or uncle who works in construction and ended up with a bad back? Well, you can attribute that to him constantly flexing and extending his spine from picking up heavy stuff all day, probably the wrong way. The caveman weren't bending over 1,000 times a day like we all do!! It's just not natural for our bodies. I am a big advocate of thinking about what cavepeople did and applying it to how we should be treating and nourishing our bodies today, as you probably know…I'll get to another way that applies to how to get abs to POP, in just a minute here.
As Bott says, and I wholeheartedly agree with, the trick is to get your abdominal muscles fighting against a movement rather than creating the movement. For example, lay on your back and lift both legs in the air, with your feet horizontal like you're balancing something on them. Then, slowly lower one leg, then raise it again, then lower…You are working and isolating a whole host of ab muscles, without hurting your spine.
Other great exercises for building abs are isometric exercises.
These are exercises that involve moving just a tiny bit, and contracting isolated muscle groups. You hold these muscles TENSED without shortening and lengthening the muscle. Just contracting! And I know, "contractions in your core" sounds like a very scary phrase for anyone who's ever had a baby. But trust me, these make your slow-twitch muscles in your core stronger, which is exactly what you want to get abs to POP.
Some great examples of these are planks on either your front or your side (and by the way, if you can do a plank for more than 60 seconds, it's time to increase the difficulty by graduating to lifting a leg or an arm while you plank), the ab wheel or ab dolly, and this exercise:
Of course, I did promise that I would be bringing up cavepeople again…That's because, a sort of caveman low-carb diet is the best way to get rid of visceral fat and get abs to show.
No, I don't go VERY low carb, but just check out this other blog post on how even going somewhat low carb is a great way to burn visceral fat. You can't spot-treat fat with exercise, but you can do it with diet. It's a common MYTH that you can't target problem areas with your diet!