Abs! Abs! Abs! Everybody is talking about them, every guy wants them (yes even you!) No thanks to our recent celebrity culture and social media. Every day we are assaulted with images of Iyanya’s chiseled midsection or flavour’s flat six packs. It’s enough to make any couch potato sick and green with envy, hell maybe even both! Ladies are not left out as even they are not immune from the celebrity “flat tummy”.
So it’s established we all wish our abs could be flat and muscular, but at this junction reality bites! Years of not caring, not eating right and the sheer weight of work and family stress in this rat race called life have taken its toll and most of us look more like Rick Ross than Usher!
There is good news and bad news. The good news is that you can still get the abs you want, the bad news is you are going to have to work very hard for it! To guide you along this path, I have developed what I call the Nine Ninjas of abs development. They are a set of rules that govern how you exercise your abs, follow them and you will release the Iyanya in you quicker than you can say kukere! Trust me!
And if you are a total stranger to Abs training or working out, click on this video https://youtu.be/W-9L0J_9qag it will be of great help to you. So what are you waiting for? Get off that couch and be who you really want to be, you deserve it!
The Ninjas of ABS Development
Do your abs at the Start of Your Workout
You have the most energy at the beginning of your workout. If you wait till the end of your programme to work your abs, you are more than likely to walk away without training your abs due to tiredness. If you don’t want to do abs first, you can do them between two different body parts i.e. between your chest and arms workout. This strategy is effective because abs training isn’t tremendously demanding on your respiratory or nervous system.
Start with your toughest exercise
It’s the opposite of what you were taught in school and here’s why, as you fatigue over the course of your workout, you can do movements that are slightly less challenging. However the greatest gains are made from the toughest exercises so do them first and do simpler ones as the muscle starts to fail. Training abs is like any other muscle group in that you want to start first with the most difficult movement with the greatest amount of resistance.
Train abs according to a plan
I have 4-5 different sets of ABS exercises I can do at any given time. Through trial and error, I’ve found that these moves produce the best results. I don’t need more variety than that to achieve my desired look. Depending on what’s available at the gym, I really don’t believe in machines or devices to train the abs just a good exercise mat and an idea in my head. To develop your training plan check out this video, I recommend the exercises in it, they really work.
Strive to improve on your last effort
To build solid abs you need progression. Initially you might do just 3 exercises of 20 reps each and get stronger, but as your body adapts and gets stronger you must also increase the workload. Don’t do the same exercises week in week out for 2 months and expect to see gains! You have to vary your exercise, increase the reps or weight loads and keep challenging your body as you grow stronger.
Give Your Abs Time to Recover
Don’t do direct abs movements every single day because there’s no time for recovery and growth. More is not always necessarily better! While the abs are a fairly small muscle group that recover quickly, I favor a three-times-a-week approach, or about every 48 hours. Remember, they’re getting indirect stimulation through other exercises, so three direct ABS workouts a week is a good starting place if they’re a weak point. Too much stress will weaken rather than build abs. Please take note!
Learn to ignore the pain
You don’t need to be as tough as Sylvester Stallone to have abs and training your abs doesn’t require any special mental imagery. Just endure the pain! Suck it up! When it starts to burn just keep pushing, I know it feels like you are dying but it won’t kill you! Remember it’s you versus yourself at that point find the willpower! Also so high energy music helps!
Avoid injury, Don’t Do Anything Stupid
Maintaining proper form will help you develop your abs more effectively and ward off injury.
Curl your spine—don’t lock it flat. Maintaining a flat back is good for just about every other exercise in the gym, but not for ABS training.
Relax your hip flexors (upper thighs) when doing decline crunches. Pulling through your hip flexors reduces the tension on the abdominal.
Don’t pull on your head when doing body weight ab movements; this disrupts spinal alignment.
You can’t Out-train a Bad Diet
While your abs isn’t made in the kitchen, they can surely be destroyed there! What you eat can often be more important than all the exercise and abs training in the world. You can train abs every single day, 10 times a day, but if your diet is full of junk food, sugar and flour I can bet my life you’re never going to see those abs. They may be there, but they’re going to be hidden by rolls of fat! So make that commitment to eat healthy and you are halfway there.
Our last Ninja is the easiest and most misunderstood. I am not advising you not to be unserious with your exercises here, but I do want you to enjoy them. If you are not having fun it becomes a chore and you are more likely to do it badly just to get it over with or avoid it all together! So train with your wife or a friend. Play the loudest banging music on your playlist and do your best!
Contributor: Adeyemi Ilugbuhi is a fitness trainer based in Abuja. He also deals in health supplements that can help you to remain healthy without any side effects. He organizes and conducts fitness training clinics and is a private trainer to most people.