Author: Gareth Sapstead - MYOBAND Fitnesss Director
You’re in the constant pursuit of attaining a visible set of abs, yet nothing seems to work. Or, it does for some time and then you hit a wall. If you want to lose body fat and build a set of abs to be proud of then read on. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to break through those barriers.
Mistake 1 – Too much cardio
You already know the benefits of cardio. It helps you burn calories and assist with the calorie deficit you need to lose body fat. It also keeps your heart healthy and improves overall work capacity in the gym. But, when it comes to having visible muscles such as you abdominals then too much of a good thing can be counterproductive.
To develop a good set of abdominal muscles they need to grow and get stronger, just like any other muscle.
Due to certain hormonal and biochemical reactions that occur due to longer durations of cardio, as well as those highly reliant on stored carbohydrates as fuse, your muscle and strength development will be sacrificed in place of other adaptations. When you’re training for anything always remember the SAID principle, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. The body will adapt to the demands you place on it, it doesn’t care whether that gives you a six-pack or not. When you’re eating a little less food with the goal to lose body fat then it’s also important that any fuel you are eating be directed toward recovery and building muscle. This is why what you put into your body when dieting is important, as well as what you choose to expend that fuel doing.
Nutrition tip: This is where micronutrient dense supplements such as SUPERFOOD GREENS can have a lot of value when dieting.
If you’re adding cardio work into your routine then low-intensity and low-impact methods tend to work best as they’re less stressful on your body and joints in particular — they’re more sustainable when dieting over a number of weeks or months. Hiking, brisk walking on an incline treadmill ad cycling are all great options. You can add small amounts in each week to see how your body responds, and gradually add more until you’re achieving a good rate of fat loss in conjunction with your diet. This is as opposed to jumping in at, say, 60 minute cardio sessions 5 days each week from the get-go then burning out by week two! If your diet is on point then four 20-minute sessions might be all you’ll ever need.
Higher-intensity cardio sessions such as intervals can be used, but should be done with caution as there’s a lot more interference there with your strength workouts. Even if you enjoy it more then you might just do one of these each week, with the rest being lower-intensity steady-state cardio as mentioned above.
Mistake 2 – You don’t prioritise lifting weights
When you want to lose body fat to unveil your abs then most people resort to doing the exact same things. Typically, along with creating a caloric deficit by eating less (often eating less protein too!), you also ramp up the cardio. This is often at the expense of your weights programme. The only way it’s not going to be is if you start spending more time in the gym. Either way it’s a bad idea. In fact, it could be the biggest mistake you make.
A good fat loss program will allow you to create a slight caloric deficit, and lose stubborn fat, without the need to sacrifice your lean muscle, strength, energy levels or time.
Lifting weights builds strength and muscle. Your abs are a muscle. Just increasing your cardio and eating less will cause your muscles to slowly wither away. So just imagine cutting out the weights, the biggest tool you have for building strength and muscle, whilst upping those things that work against that. It won’t produce the outcome you really want.
Resistance training it’s the biggest muscle sparing tool you have. Don’t change a thing, your sets, reps, nothing! Lift weights to build muscle, NOT to lose body fat. Strive to get stronger, even whilst in an energy deficit and you’ll see the progress you’ve been striving for.
Nutrition tip: When in a calorie deficit then keeping your protein intake high is important. This will help with the muscle-sparring effect resistance training has when in a calorie deficit. Whey protein such as 8X WHEY allows you to add protein in throughout your day without the unwanted carbs, fats or calories. You can use as a shake anytime, or mix in yogurt, smoothies, oats and even bake with it.
Mistake 3 – Not making your abs a priority muscle group
You want a strong, athletic-looking core that performs as well as it looks. But it’s often an afterthought with some abs exercises being thrown in at the end of your regular workouts.
Think about this for just a few seconds. If you wanted to build a bigger chest then would you just “throw it in” at the end of a workout for a handful of half-effort bodyweight sets? Hopefully not. So why has it become a habit for many to do non-challenging variations of crunches and planks at the end of their workouts when they’re already fatigued. And let’s be honest, can’t be bothered.
To see your abs then you need to build them. Not build them in a way that they become thicker (that’s no what they do_. But in a way they become more dense and deeply etched. While abs are indeed unveiled in the kitchen, they are build in the gym using resistance and progressive overload. Just like any muscle you want to improve then you need to start training them properly, selecting better exercises, and progressing them over a number of weeks.
One exercise that you could use that’s fun to master are abdominal wheel rollouts.
As an example, try actually starting your workouts with 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps, adding an extra repetition or two each week as you improve. Two to three times per week alongside a second exercise such as a kneeling cable run ch or hanging leg raise and your abs are guaranteed to get stronger.
Nutrition tip: Just like any other muscle, the recovery of your abdominal muscles form a hard workout is essential. To promote faster recovery and adaptation from your training then OBLIVION PROTEIN JUICE can be sipped during your workouts, or used as a post-workout shake with zero carbs or fats. Perfect if you’re dieting.