Module 48: Why Your Abs Don't Show
A common question I get goes a little something like this:
"Matt, I'm finally at my goal weight. My body fat percentage is single-digits, but I still can't really see my abs. Help!!!"
So here's the deal:
If a member of the general public fired this question my way, I'd just assume they were lying about being lean. But I'll give you -- dear reader -- the benefit of the doubt. I'll assume that you know your abs aren't really going to "pop" until you dip below 10% body fat. And I'll further assume you know with certainty that you are actually below 10% body fat. Either because you got a DEXA scan done, or your waist measurement (NOT PANT SIZE) is 32 inches or less, measured around the navel while standing relaxed.
If you meet that criteria and you're still not seeing your abs pop as much as you like, there's the problem:
You need more muscle mass on your abs. When you build up the musculature on your abs, they show more and they'll even be more visible at higher body fat levels.
So here's the step-by-step fix:
- Train your abs 4x per week. (Abs respond well to higher frequency.)
- Use moderate reps (8-15 reps per set).
- Add resistance: Weighted crunches and leg raises with ankle weights. (It's this added resistance that builds the muscle mass.)
- Squeeze for 1 second at the top of every rep. (additional time under tension increases muscle mass.
- Train lower abs FIRST. Most people ignore the lower abs and that's a mistake: When you train your lower abs, the upper abs contract as well. But when you train your upper abs, the lower abs contract only minimally.
- 4 sets per workout is a good starting point.
So to recap -- if you're unhappy with your abs, start training them 4x per week. Do one ab exercise per day (alternate between upper and lower), do 4 sets and use enough added resistance so that you can only do 8-15 reps. Squeeze for 1 second at the top of each rep.
Try this for 4 weeks and I think you'll be amazed at how your midsection transforms.
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