by Dr. Kareem F. Samhouri, CSCS, HFS
Neuro Metabolic Fat Loss & Fitness Expert
One thing that most people who train for improved abs do not realize is that they need to train their backs at the same time. Without having a proper balance between abdominal and low back strength, there is a change in posture, ultimately resulting in a decreased physique, decreased oxygenation to muscles, and decreased endurance. This means that you will spend more time in the gym, take less away from your workout, and feel more tired the next day. Sounds terrible, right?
One of the greatest secrets that I teach my clients is to strengthen their low back musculature in order to increase the efficacy of their abdominal workouts. Through proper low back strengthening, they are able to normalize their pelvic positions, thereby increasing the stretch on their skin in the abdomen. This increase in stretch, or better posed decrease in slack, results in showing the muscles that lie underneath.
With the 3 step plan you see below, you may just find that you have had more abdominal definition than you knew!
- Step 1: Learn how to perform stability exercises rather than crunches. Functionally, our abs work to stabilize our bodies while walking, standing from a chair, or sitting down. This is referred to as an ‘isometric’ contraction, meaning that the muscle is contracting, but no movement is taking place. Whenever your abs are working isometrically, it’s a good bet that your low back is helping stabilize from the other side. Think about it, if my abs are firing and my low back extensors are not, would I not bend forward?
- Step 2: Spend double the time on your back than you do on your front. Take for granted the fact that most people work on the muscles they can see in the mirror when working out. If you simply try to counterbalance this for awhile, you will be blown away by the results. By working on muscles such as your lower trapezius, middle trapezius, rhomboids, posterior deltoids, gluteals, and multifidi, you will stand far ahead of your competition. Your body will assume a better posture, your circulation will improve, the oxygen delivery to your muscles will improve, and your metabolism will increase. All of these factors will drive your results through the roof when attempting to improve abdominal definition and strength.
- Step 3: Change it up. Most people perform the same exercises every other time that they work out. Instead, try to vary joint angles and positions, muscles targeted, surfaces used, or anything else you can think of in order to ‘shock your system’ into thinking it’s never exercises before. Do you remember the first time you worked out? You were pretty sore, right? Me too. There is a reason for this: our bodies were producing a ton of lactic acid, which produced soreness, and resulted in a repair process that uses energy to get rid of the acid. This energy equals increased metabolism. If you increase metabolism, you’ll hit your goals before you know it!
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