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Why Are You Not Seeing Results
From Your Abdominal Program?

Your abs are an extension of the entire region that makes up all the core muscles. If you are not seeing results with your ab program, part of it may be diet, lack of sufficient cardiovascular activity or your rep count.

The abdominal muscles work just like any other muscle and have to be challenged as such. If you want muscular abdominals, you have to challenge them with resistance and good form just like you would your chest, your back or any other muscle for that matter. Targeting the correct energy system is imperative. This means you should never enter into the aerobic phase of this exercise, ideally keeping it under 2 minutes at most. High rep counts (i.e. 200-300) will do little or nothing to stimulate strength and thickness in any part of the abs.

Think of rolling a carpet and contracting fully on the top of the movement and squeeze. If you do them correctly, you shouldn't be able to do more than 30 repetitions of any abdominal exercise (i.e reverse crunches, hanging leg raises, or any other). Any more than that, and you're probably doing them half-azz, incorrectly or with a partial range of motion. Moreover, entering into the aerobic phase (2 min +)will prevent the majority of stimulus for growth of muscle fibers rendering the exercise useless for its intended target and goal.

For the lower abs, keep in mind there is very little muscle tissue there so decreasing levels of body fat (via cardio and a great diet) is the most effective way to bring out the best in this area. Hanging leg raises, v-situps and reverse crunches are among some of the best exercise for this region. Always make sure your pelvis curls up to maximize lower abdominal contraction during these exercises. If your pelvis does not curl up and your knees do not bend, your hip flexors (psoas) will override almost all efforts to contract your lower abdominals, especially during the most critical stages of the movement.

As far as fat loss and getting cut goes, cardio, cardio, cardio. Abdominal exercises alone will never burn fat from your abdominal area. You must do cardiovascular exercise to accomplish this. Cardio is best in the morning, on an empty stomach at about 70-80% of your maximum heart rate for about 30-45 minutes (as long as are acclimated to this level). This combined with a common sense diet, strict time scheduling (i.e. last carb meal 6 hours before bed and last meal 4 hours before bed) will quickly shed body fat so you can actually see those abs you've worked so hard to build.

I would encourage you to seek the advice and guidance of a personal trainer in your area for further education on these principles. Please ensure you start off at a very basic level for crunches and cardio if you are a beginner.

FitGuy is a certified trainer (NSCA-CPT/CSCS) and rehab specialist who is also on the PreventDisease.com expert panel.



January 8, 2010
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