The direct work of the abdominal muscles through dedicated training is essential if you want to have beautiful abs.
You want to know how to build abs and you don’t know if you should train them specifically or not? Are ab exercises a waste of time? No! Absolutely not!
However, if you want a slim waist and ripped abs you should definitely reduce your body fat by dieting. Indeed, you can have the best program in the world, but if you have a layer of fat covering your abs, no one will see them! So you have to work on both sides of the equation: training your abs so that they exist and dieting to trim them.
You will also need to practice specific exercises. You will need to devote sessions for your abs to work them effectively. The hypertrophy of the abdominal muscles is mandatory if you want to have beautiful and visible abs.
It is clear that if you are very lean, your abs will be visible even without work, but if you want a real chocolate bar it will not be enough. Like any other muscle, if you don’t train them, you will hardly get “big” abs.
Some athletes think that only indirect work of the abdominals (via squat type exercises for example) will be sufficient, but this is rarely the case.
Working the abs to avoid injury
Some back problems can also be attributed to an underlying weakness in the abdominal muscles. Strengthening them can help you prevent some injuries. There is no need to work them specifically as we usually do. Girdle work is more than enough! A strong abdominal belt will protect your spine and keep the risk of injury away, as long as you know how to train your abs properly.
Work the abs to improve your performance
The second possible reason is to improve your sports performance. Almost any sport will benefit from stronger abs. In fact, there is plenty of room to work on your abs.
Working the abs to lose fat?
It is impossible to lose local belly fat by working the abs specifically. Therefore, everything will go through diet.
Working the abs to have beautiful abs
Here, on the other hand, in order to have beautiful, protruding abs when you’re dry enough, is essential. If you don’t work on them specifically, you will hardly have apparent and cut abs, except in special cases.
Should I work on my abs if I’m fat?
Some beginner athletes wonder if they should work their abs when they are too fat to see them. But the first answer that comes to mind is “why not”, why shouldn’t they be worked? Do we wait until we have visible pecs to start working our pecs?
Abdominals are no different than any other muscle…
Doing abdominal exercises when you are overweight?
The medical profession tends to advise against training your abs when you are overweight, especially in the stomach area. Indeed, in these cases the abdominal strap tends to be completely distended, and practicing abdominal exercises could be dangerous because of the pressure they would exert on the organs in the abdomen.
But unless you are really overweight and have reduced mobility that would prevent you from contracting your abdominal muscles properly, there is no reason not to strengthen them, or at least to do some form of abdominal training.
Of course, as long as you’re a little too fat, you won’t have a chance to see them. But if you start working on them now, they’ll have a better chance of being visible when you’re drier. Whereas if you only train them when you are able to see them, they will eventually be visible because they are very flat, with little relief.
This is because, like all muscles, they need time to progress, develop and become bigger. And bigger abs are more visible with the same amount of body fat. This means that if you have well-muscled abs, you can afford to be slightly fatter and still have visible abs.
As with other muscles, to see them well, they must either be very developed or very dry. But if they are developed and dry, then you have won everything!
Is it necessary to strengthen the deep abdominals?
The abdominals are made up of three layers of muscles. These can be worked separately, in pairs or all at once. The first layer is represented by the transversus abdominis (which is the deepest muscle), which is what gives the flat stomach appearance. Thanks to the sheathing that it provides, it will help keep the viscera “inside” the belly and therefore optimize the flat stomach. But of course, it is not the only sheathing work that it allows.
The second layer is composed of the obliques, which allow the bust to tilt and turn, so they too have a very important mechanical role. The last layer, the most superficial, is formed by the rectus abdominis, which form what is commonly called “the chocolate bars” and which are the only part trained by most body-building practitioners, which is a mistake…
Why work the deep abs?
If your goal is to obtain visible abs, or “chocolate bars”, you only need to work the most superficial abdominal layer. One could therefore legitimately think that there is no interest in working the deeper muscles for a bodybuilding.
However, you should know that by working your abdominal muscles in depth, i.e. by training the transverse abdominis in particular, you will allow your muscle to correctly maintain your viscera and you will obtain a flatter stomach, a better transfer of force between the upper and lower body, a slimmer waist, and a much better sheathing at the level of the spine.
There is therefore an advantage in terms of aesthetics as well as performance and injury prevention! So, a piece of advice: if you only need to train one abdominal muscle, train the transverse!
It’s also a good way to learn voluntary contraction of the abdominal muscles, because working the transverses requires good control of the abdominal area. So by getting into the habit of regularly working the transversus abdominis, you improve your overall work on the more classic abdominal exercises.
Moreover, in terms of frequency, 2 to 3 abdominal sessions per week are sufficient to have an evolution. It will only take you two to three minutes at the end of your workout, so it’s a small investment considering the potential gains it could bring you.