How to Get Rid of Lower Ab
Venuto - author of Burn
The Fat, Feed The Muscle
Dear Tom: I have been working out for around
a year now and I cannot get my lower abs into any type of shape. Despite doing
900 various crunches, ab roller, and 100 sit-ups four days a week, along with
running and my regular workout on the weights, I still have a tire around my
waist. What else can I do?.
"What should I do to get abs?" is still
one of the most frequently asked questions I receive out of the 30,000+ emails
that come into my office every month. Although the question is often phrased
differently, the answer is always the same:
Seeing your abs, or any other muscle group,
for that matter - is almost entirely the result of having low body fat levels.
You get low body fat from proper diet (as well as cardio and strength
training), not from doing hundreds of ab exercises every day.
You didn't mention whether you knew your
body fat level or not. My guess is that it may seem like your lower ab muscles
are "hard to develop," but it's not really an issue of "muscle development" at
all, you simply have too much body fat and are storing it in your lower
abdominal region more readily than other parts of your body and you can't see
the muscles through the fat.
Most people don't have their fat distributed
evenly throughout their bodies. Each of us inherits a genetically determined
and hormonally-influenced pattern of fat storage just as we inherit our eye or
hair color. In other words, the fat seems to "stick" to certain areas more than
Men often tend to store fat more readily in
the lower abdominal region (the "pot belly", "spare tire", "beer gut", or "love
handles"). In women, the "stubborn" areas are usually the hips, thighs
("saddlebags") and the triceps ("grandmother arms").
You could focus on more "lower ab" exercises
like hanging leg raises, reverse crunches and hip lifts ("toes to sky"), but
even these won't help as long as you still have body fat covering the muscles.
You can't "spot reduce" with abdominal exercise.
The lower abs is often the first place the
fat goes when you gain it, and the last place it comes off when you're losing
it. Think of ab fat like the deep end of the swimming pool. No matter how much
you protest, there is no way you can drain the deep end before the shallow
I would suggest cutting back the volume on
your ab training and spending that time on more cardio work instead.
Personally, I only do about 15 minutes of ab work two times per week. (About
two to four exercises with reps usually ranging from 10-25 reps).
Here is a recent ab routine that I used (for
bodybuilding/ ab-development purposes). I do this routine only twice a week and
I change the exercises approximately every month so my body doesn't adapt. I
prefer slightly higher rep range than other muscle groups, but as you can see,
it is far from doing a thousand reps a day. (if you want to see what my abs
look like, just checkout my picture below
A1 Hanging leg raises 3 sets, 15-20 reps
A2 Hanging knee ups (bent-knee leg raises) 3
sets, 15-20 reps (no rest between supersetted exercises A1 & A2, 60sec
B1 Incline Revere Crunches 3 sets, 15-20
B2 Elbow to knee twisting crunches 3 sets,
For maximum fat loss, you should do cardio
4-7 days per week for 30-60 minutes (the amount is variable depending on your
results). You could continue running or mix up the type of cardio you do
(stationary cycling, stairclimbing, elliptical machines, and other continuous
aerobic activities are all excellent fat burners without the high impact and
joint stress of frequent running).
If time efficiency is an issue for you, you
could perform high intensity interval cardio training and achieve very
efficient results with even briefer workouts (20-30 min per sessions, or less,
if the intensity is high enough)
Once you are satisfied with your level of
body fat and your abdominal definition, you can cut back to 3 days per week for
20-30 minutes for maintenance.
As far as nutrition goes, here are a few
fat-burning nutrition guidelines in a nutshell:
- Eat about 15-20% below your calorie
maintenance level. If you use a more aggressive calorie deficit of 25-30%, then
do not keep calories too low for too long; increase calories to maintenance or
maintenance +10-15% 1-2 days per week.
- Spread your calories into 5-6 smaller
meals instead of 2-3 big ones. Be very conscious of portion size. eat too much
of anything and you can say goodbye to your abs. Period.
- Eat a source of complete, high quality
lean protein with each meal (egg whites, lean meat, fish, protein powder,
- Choose natural, complex carbs such as
vegetables, oatmeal, yams, potatoes, beans, brown rice and whole grains. Start
with aprox. 50% of your calories from natural carbs and reduce carbs slightly
(esp. late in the day) if you are not losing fat.
- Avoid refined, simple carbs that
contain white flour or white sugar
- Keep total fats low and saturated fats
low. Aim for 20% of your total calories from fat (and no more than 30%). A
little bit of "good fat" like flax oil, fish fat, nuts & seeds, etc is
better than a no fat diet.
- Drink plenty of water - a gallon is a
good ballpark to shoot for if you are physically active.
1000+ reps of ab work four days a week is an
amazing feat of endurance, but thats not how you get visble, rock hard, 6-pack
You probably have outstanding development in
your abdominal muscles. (you certainly have great muscular endurance).
Unfortunately, if your abs are covered up with a layer of fat, you wont be able
to see them even if you do 10,000 reps a day!
You "get abs" from reducing your body fat
and you reduce body fat mostly through diet and cardio.
| Author Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner,
freelance writer, success coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle"
(BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness
Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN
magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for
Men and Mens Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative articles on
bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on dozens of
websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" book,
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