Archive for the tag - abs

How to Get V Cut Abs.

Dear Davey,

What is the best way to get that “V” formation in the navel area? How can I most effectively work that muscle? Thanks.

From,
Jake

Hey Jake!

Whether you’re a guy or girl, the so-called v cut is one of the more desired fitness aesthetics. Sometimes called a money maker (no joke), it’s the v-shaped cut in the lower abdominal/pubic region that starts from the obliques and funnels downward toward the groin.

First things first, the v cut is purely aesthetic. As sexy as it is, it isn’t a necessity for general health or physical performance.

Having said that, the formation is caused by a number of oblique and abdominal muscles made visible through a low percentage of body fat. And yes, genetics do play a factor; some people are able to achieve the look with little effort. For the rest of us, it’s hard work.

Obviously, the foundation for having a v cut is well developed abdominal and oblique muscles. There are any number of effective ab and oblique workouts that will build these muscles.

But much like showcasing six pack abs, the v cut is only visible with lower body fat percentages. I recommend meeting with a trainer or healthcare professional to get your body fat measured. Generally, you’ll need to target a number below 10% – which is no small feat.

Once you know your starting body fat percentage, create a plan for reducing it through intense exercise and diet. Diets rich in steamed veggies, lean meats, nuts, healthy salads, fruits, berries and some complex carbohydrates are helpful in reducing body fat. Fried foods, alcohol, pastries, sugary foods and simple carbohydrates (like those found in pasta), are to be minimized.

Though it takes time to lean out, there’s really no magic to achieving the v cut. It’s just a question of how badly you want it – and if you’re willing to put in the work.

Love,
Davey Wavey

Video: Six Pack Secret Exposed!

For the last few weeks, I’ve been participating in YouTube’s Next Trainer program.

As part of the program, we get video assignments. Two weeks ago, we were charged with making a holiday-themed video – and so I made one about the worst holiday foods. This week, we had to create a core-themed video. While an ab workout would be the obvious choice, I thought it would be more interesting to explain why crunches and situps don’t necessarily result in a six pack.

Check out the video and let me know what you think!

Can You Train Abs Everyday?

Hey Davey,

I’ve gotten plenty of tips for workouts from friends in the past but there’s one recurring rumor I keep hearing. To your knowledge, can ab exercises be done everyday? Or do you have to give them rest like you do the other parts of your body such as arms or legs?

From,
Max

Max,

Whether or not abs should be trained everyday is one of the million dollar fitness questions with elaborate theories for and against it.

Opponents of everyday ab training point out that our abs are just like any other muscle in the body – and that they can be overtrained. When we exercise with resistance, our muscles break down. Sufficient time is required for any muscle to rebuild, and so opponents believe that a day (or more) of rest is needed between ab workouts.

Proponents of everyday ab training believe that our abdominal muscles are unique. Because we use these muscles for almost any movement we make, it takes a lot of training to really fatigue these muscles. As such, it takes frequent training sessions for optimal results. And indeed, many bodybuilders do train their abs everyday.

I take a middle-of-the-line approach that combines both philosophies. I train my lower abs on one day, my upper abs on the second and my obliques (side abs) on the third. This gives sufficient rest to each area of my abdomen while still allowing more frequent ab training.

Of course, you’ll have to find what works best for you – and remember that you should never train a muscle that is still sore from a previous workout. Most people will be perfectly fine with 3 – 5 ab workouts per week.

Also keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, the best way to improve abdominal definition is not with crunches or sit-ups. Any layer of fat (even a very thin one) will hide your six pack, and so it’s crucially important to engage in frequent and effective cardiovascular training (I recommend metabolism-boosting intervals).

I hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

Pilates-Style Ab Workout! [Video]

While I was on my recent week-long Pilates adventure, I learned a new ab exercise called “100s” that I’d like to share with you. It’s powerful, effective and you can do it pretty much anywhere.

It’s important to incorporate new exercises into our routines. It keeps our bodies evolving and helps prevent plateaus – so I’d recommend that you give this one a try.

Watch the video below.

Video: Plank Exercise to Strengthen Core!

Your core muscles inclue all the muscles around your pelvis and trunk (no, not that trunk). Strengthening those muscles should be a part of every fitness program, and it means doing more than the occasional sit-up or crunch.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 7 important reasons to exercise your core. Strengthening your core:

  1. Improves balance and stability.
  2. Doesn’t require equipment.
  3. Helps build your abs.
  4. Makes it easier to do most physical activities.
  5. Doesn’t take a lot of time.
  6. Can be done at home – or anywhere else!
  7. Helps you reach your other fitness goals.

In addition, a strong core can help prevent lower back pain and improve your posture.

Now that I’ve sold you on the importance of core-focused exercises, my absolute favorite is the plank. It’s simple but challenging – and there are a lot of variations.

To do a basic plank:

  1. Lie on your stomach.
  2. Push yourself up onto your elbows. Feet should be hip-width apart.
  3. Contract your core muscles to hold this posture for 30 seconds – or more!

I made a quick and simple video to show you some of the variations you can do with the plank:


I’ve included a complete 20-minute core workout in my three-video Jock Workout fitness and nutrition program. Use discount code “blog” before June 7 to save 25% during checkout! Learn more and watch a free preview today!

The Best Lower-Ab Exercise EVER!

When doing a hanging leg raise, it's important to extend the legs all the way up.

Of all the lower ab exercises that exist, one stands out above the rest: The hanging leg raise.

When done right, it’s extremely powerful and effective. Unfortunately, most people quit half-way through each rep – when their legs are only parallel to the floor. To do it right, lift your legs up until they point to the ceiling, and are entirely perpendicular to the floor.

Here’s how to do a proper hanging leg raise:

  1. Locate a vertical bench at your gym. If you don’t have one, then you can do the leg raise while hanging from a pull-up bar (pictured at right).
  2. Raise your legs up as high as possible – much past halfway (anything less is really just a hip flexor exercise). Ideally, your legs should point directly to the ceiling, and the bottom of your spine will curl forward.
  3. Hold for a second, then lower your legs back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  4. Repeat until fatigued (it shouldn’t take too long!).

Try do do a few sets of hanging leg raises in each of your ab or lower ab workouts.

Also, you may want to try this tip: Once your lower ab muscles become fatigued, simply bend your knees so that your legs are no longer straight. This will make the exercise a bit easier, and continue until your muscles fatigue again.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Newsflash: Ab Workouts Won’t Give You a Flat Stomach.

Yesterday, I was hitting the gym and chatting it up with a new member. He was asking me about a few of the machines, including one that works the obliques (aka side abs). He was totally excited to try the machine out, and explained to me that he’s trying to get rid of his “love handles” and extra fat around his waist.

But alas, the belief that ab exercises will reduce love handles or create a flat stomach is one of the most pervasive exercise misconceptions out there.

Ab exercises build and strengthen abdominal muscles. They do not convert fat tissue into muscle. And they don’t shrink your midsection. In fact, it’s impossible to target parts of the body from which to lose weight.

If you have a belly, and embark on a comprehensive and ass-kicking ab workout, then you’ll likely develop much stronger and bigger ab muscles over time. But those ab muscles will still be hidden under a layer of fat – and even the smallest layer of fat will hide a six pack.

If you want a flat stomach, then you need to do three things:

  1. Cardiovascular exercise. Cardio burns calories during and after exercise. It will help reduce body fat.
  2. Comprehensive strength training. Muscle does wonders to boost the body’s metabolism, so put into practice a total body strength training program. Adding muscle will increase the number of calories your body burns each day.
  3. Proper nutrition. A clean, healthy diet will complement your exercise program and keep body fat to a minimum.

So, if you aspire to showcase a washboard stomach – or just flatten things out a bit – then know that you can crunch your way until kingdom come, and it won’t make a whole lot of difference. Instead, do cardio, strength training and eat right. Simple and easy? No. But it works.

Crazy New Ab Exercise: Double Plate Press!

Truth be told, the double plate press isn’t just an ab workout. It works your chest, forearms, biceps and shoulders – but I feel most of the burn in my abs.

I freaking love it!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Locate two identical weight plates. Start small – with 5 lb weight plates. You really don’t need a lot of weight to feel this.
  2. Press the two weights together, holding them close to your chest. The smooth side should be facing outward. This is the starting position.
  3. Extend the plates straight out in front of you, so that your arms are parallel to the floor. You’ll really need to squeeze the plates together to prevent them from slipping! This is the most challenge piece of the exercise.
  4. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
  5. If you can do more than 8 or 10 repetitions, you’ll need heavier weights. Repeat for 1 – 4 sets, depending on your goals and available time.

It’s new, it’s different and it’s a lot of fun.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think. And, if you’re up for it – browse some of my additional ab tips and exercises.

Enjoy!

How Often Should You Exercise Your Abs?

Frequency of ab workouts is one of the great fitness debates. There are basically two schools of thought.

One school of thought argues that abs should be exercised everyday. Because our abs are stabilizer muscles, we’re always using them – whether it’s walking down the street, getting out of a car or sitting in a chair. And since our abs are accustomed to this heavy workload, we can train our abs more frequently than we would other muscles.

The other school of thought argues that it’s important to give our abs a day or two to recover. Because ours abs are not fundamentally different than other muscles, we need to let them rebuild and repair – or else we’re limiting our progress and set ourselves up for injury.

I take the middle-ground. I don’t think ab workouts are so much about frequency as intensity. If your ab workout is intense, and if it leaves your muscles feeling sore – then give your abs rest. Never exercise a muscle that is still sore from a previous workout.

Furthermore, for my own workouts, I’ve broken my abs into three parts: obliques (side abs), lower abs, and middle abs/upper abs. One each day, I focus on a different part. If I do my obliques today, I’ll do my lower abs tomorrow – and so on. And if I am sore from a previous ab workout, then I give myself a day of recovery.

How often do you exercise your abs? Let us know in the comments below.

P.S. If you dare, you should try out my 5-minute ab workout!

Six Pack Secret: Drinking Water?

The world's most famous six pack!

Since elementary school, our phys ed teachers have reminded us to drink our 8 cups of water a day. But why? It turns out they were on to something. Staying hydrated is associated with a number of benefits – including better definition in your abs.

Decreased risk of cancer, clearer skin and increased productivity are a few of the reasons to stay hydrated. But water also has another important benefit: Fat loss. Water curbs hunger (the body often sends a hunger signal when it’s actually thirsty), replaces sugary drinks and actually boosts your metabolism.

The findings of a water/metabolism study were reported in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The researchers tracked energy expenditures among seven men and seven women who were healthy and not overweight. The subjects, after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water, increased the rate of burning calories by 30% within the time frame of 30-40 minutes. Drinking water helps create the create the calorie deficit required for weight and fat loss. And less fat = more defined six pack.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. In the December/January issue of Men’s Fitness, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (famous for his abs) touts water as one of his top 8 six-pack rules.

Remember: Even a small layer of belly fat will obscure abs. So… exercise, maintain a clean diet – and drink tons of water. Cheers!

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about crazy abs, check out my “how to get a six pack” guide.