The one question I get asked about the most without doubt is how can I get the abs!? Granted I probably ask for that especially with my twitter name being Kirk_Abs_Miller!(which I must point out is only because Kirk Miller was already taken) Promise!Ha ha!
Anyway let’s get back to the topic of abdominals or more commonly known as abs. I have seen thousands of videos, books and ‘wonder machines’ in my time all guaranteeing ‘the perfect abs’ if you buy their product. In truth most of them are a load of b#llocks generally aimed at people who through no fault of their own don’t have the first idea about correct training/diet and are merely lured into buying it because of the chiselled six pack of the model on the front of it. Before I go about giving my advice on ab training one thing I must point out is you CANNOT change the genetic make up of your abs, by that I mean the shape of them. Anyone who says you can is lying. They are pre-defined from the moment we are born. But we all have them, we CAN make them stronger and we CAN make them more prominent through exercise.
‘I do loads of sit ups, but I still can’t get the abs’ …This is totally irrelevant in your quest to get them if your body fat isn’t low enough. You could be doing a thousand sit ups everyday for the next year, if your a guy with a body fat of around 13% or more will never have a ripped six pack. I would suggest taking a look at firstly your diet, the likelihood is your either eating more calories than your body needs or your diet isn’t healthy enough. Just as importantly look at how your spending your time in the gym. Lifting a heavy weights training split should be your number one priority. Not only will you increase muscle mass and burn body fat during the session and days after, but most compound lifts such squats, deadlifts etc engage your core/abs with immense force throughout as this is of course where all our power comes from. Having said this, I am going to disagree completely with the ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’ quote. If your a genetic freak and one of the lucky few who never trains them, yet still possess a symmetrically perfect set of abs of equal thickness then what I’m about to write doesn’t apply to you!
Yes, as I’ve just said diet and body fat are so important in achieving a good six pack, but if you want a GREAT set of abs you must train them and treat them like any other muscle. If you see a group of guys on stage or on the beach of equal muscle structure it’s the guy with the best abs that will stick out like a sore thumb. Train them heavy and ALWAYS start with lower abs/core. I am yet to see anyone with better developed lower abs than their top/middle abs. Just like you would with any other muscle group, the primary focus should be on your weakest part of the muscle, as the key to a great physique for me is proportion. Around 70% of any ab workouts I do would focus on lower abs/core before moving onto middle/top/core and of course my lower back to maintain a correct posture. Although squats, deadlifts etc work your abs/core they do not specifically isolate the way you need to if you want a great pack. Although rep ranges may vary slightly, I find using a rep range of 6-12 reps is best for lower abs/core, 15-20 reps for your obliques and 10-15 for lower back.
Your abs are a fast twitch muscle fibre so treat them like one. As the rep range is low, constant tension, correct technique and a powerful mind to muscle connection is crucial throughout all movements, especially when when targeting stubborn areas such as the lower abdominals. The eccentric (negative) movement should be the slowest part of all repetitions (3-4 secs), a faster concentric (1-2 secs) and 2 seconds squeeze on the isometric point of most exercises. A typical abs workout would usually consist of 3-4 exercises for lower/core, 1 for middle/top, 1 for obliques and 1 for lower back, of around 3 working sets on each. I typically train them once a week, but sometimes two or three max if I was a week or two out from an important shoot/exhibition/(holiday!) ha ha. Below I’ve included some of my favourite ab exercises that are tried and trusted for the last 14 years.
Lower Abs/Core…(Tempo 4:1:2)…12-6 reps :
Hanging Knee Raises (add weight if easy)
Reverse Cable Crunches
Swiss Ball Weighted Crunches
Reverse Jack Knifes
Russian Med Ball Twists
Sides (Obliques)…(Tempo 2:1:2)…20-15 reps :
Swiss Ball Side Crunch
Alternating Oblique twists off floor (add weight if easy)
Lower Back…(Tempo 2:1:2)…15-10 reps:
To conclude the key is consistency with both training and diet if you want continual progress, and finding out what works for you. My views on abs may not agree with some but I know will work for a hell of a lot more. My advice is do not over complicate, do the basic moves right and one day you may wake up with the elusive six pack!
For further training advice and on line training programs please check out my new website www.kirk-miller.com and follow me on twitter @Kirk_Abs_Miller