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Should you be training your core everyday if you want to have a six-pack? Here is a fun fact, you are probably already training your core every day without even realizing it. Most types of compound movements, whether using free weights or body-weight, train your core to some degree.
Your core, including the abdominal muscles, plays a crucial role in stabilizing your body during many movements such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pull-ups, push-ups, running and even simply walking. Albeit some movements engage core more than others, the fact remains that your body must engage your core to maintain proper form, balance, and strength throughout most compound exercises. This means that even without dedicating separate sessions for direct abs training, you’re still providing stimulus to your abdominal muscles through your regular workouts.
So, does it make sense to train abs separately given that you train it every day anyway in many compound exercises and every day movements? This is like saying why train arms separately since both biceps and triceps are engaged during many upper body exercises. While compound exercises train multiple muscles, they may not provide enough stimulus to fully develop all muscles involved in the exercise.
During most compound movements, the core is mostly engaged for stabilizing purposes rather than specifically targeted for abs growth. To specifically develop your rectus abdominis you should include exercises that lengthen and shorten you midsection, such as crunches.
Just as training arms separately allows you to specifically target the biceps with curls and the triceps with extension exercises, including targeted ab exercises focused on movements that lengthen and shorten your abs will contribute to the development and aesthetic appearance of your abs.
Abs should be treated like any other muscle and 1-2 times a week of direct abs training is plenty. Muscles need time to repair and grow, anymore than twice a week is pushing in the zone of overtraining. Most of your direct abs training routine should focus on exercises that contracts your abs and rotation exercises, as these movements are largely neglected in compound movements. 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps of direct contraction and rotation type exercises such as crunches, leg raises, pall-of press, Russian twist, oblique twists are sufficient to engage all major core muscles and develop a chiseled midsection.
One of the biggest myth surrounding abs, is that you can do a few quick sessions of an exercise and you will get six packs quickly. Exercise will make your abs muscle stronger but it won’t necessarily make them visible. In-fact, you won’t see your abs if your body fat percentage is not low enough, even if you have strong abdominal muscles.
High body fat basically means that you are either eating more, eating the wrong type of food or you are not burning enough calories. To reduce your body fat, you must cause a calorie deficit through a combination of increasing your energy expenditure through physical activity, building muscle in particular as it burns more calories, and controlling nutrition. Instead of going crazy counting calories, keep things simple by avoiding calorie-dense and processed foods and focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
So there you have it. Most people are already training their core daily to a certain degree. However, it is not enough you give you six pack abs and you should include targeted abs training in your routine. But remember exercise alone is just one part of the equation. Achieving a six-pack requires a combination of targeted abdominal training, a healthy diet, reduced body fat and rest. Unfortunately, you cant simply crunch your way to a six pack
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