Do You Even Need Focused Ab Training To Get Flat Abs?

Do You Even Need Focused Ab Training To Get Flat Abs?

In some of the Cross Training classes that you can attend nowadays, there’s a myth floating around that fitness enthusiasts don’t really need specific, focused ab training anymore. Part of the reason for this is because lots of people can work out for months and months and see no results – no noticeable, positive change in their abs.

Because of this, there’s a bit of mixed thinking on whether or not focused ab training is even necessary for the average person.

Today, I want to address that because I think ab training has a very important place in fitness training. The thing is that you have to know exactly what exercises to do to strengthen and tone your abs.

You don’t just get a flat, toned stomach because you’re doing sit-ups or leg lifts.

The fact is…if you do the wrong exercises, or if you do exercises that only strengthen the wrong abdominal muscles, you’re not necessarily working out in a way that will give you a flat stomach, and you may never get toned the way that you want.

Let’s Start Where I Always Start – The Diet

Do You Even Need Focused Ab Training To Get Flat Abs?

It’s not that hard to start eating healthily, as you can see from this simple salad with chicken breast.

Sometimes, I feel like I am repeating myself to death when I tell people that you don’t get good fitness without the foundation of a good diet…but it’s true. So, forgive me if it feels like I am hammering this point home.

What you eat matters. A lot.

If you’re not eating healthily, it’s really not sustainable (long-term) for you to try to have the body of your dreams. The reason for this is because, at any moment, an unhealthy diet can have all sorts of impact on you from the inside out.

For example, foods that cause gut inflammation (even if they are whole foods) can make you look bloated around your midsection and in your face, legs, and arms. Lots of people are sensitive to inflammatory foods.

You might be, too!

Additionally high-sodium, processed foods can raise your blood pressure and make you retain water under your skin – again, making you look bloated.

And over the long haul, eating unhealthily will make you feel generally unwell to the extent that you might not even have the motivation you need to get to the gym or do your home-based workouts.

So, it’s important to eat the right way.

Here are a few, general – and quick – pointers on how to eat well for weight loss, healthy weight maintenance, and toned abs:

  • Drink lots of water throughout the day. Water keeps your joints lubricated, flushes toxins from your body, keeps your skin looking good, and keeps your organs functioning properly.
  • Eat green veggies every day. Whether it’s a salad or steamed broccoli doesn’t matter a whole lot. You need daily intake of vegetables to make sure that you’re getting adequate fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your diet. If you can eat veggies with every meal, even better!
  • Start the day with protein. Eating protein first thing in the day satisfies your appetite and ensures that you don’t mindlessly snack between breakfast and lunch. This is great for those trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It’s even great for those trying to gain weight. Protein is incredibly versatile.

And that’s it!

If you can do these three things, you’re well on your way to a diet that is perfectly dialed-in to support you in your fitness goals. Anything less than this is probably going to create a pattern of setbacks that are a challenge to recover from easily.

Now that we have the dietary foundation handled, let’s talk about why I think you still need focused ab training.

Not All “Ab Exercises” Are Created Alike

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Just because you do an exercise that happens to use your core muscles doesn’t mean it will help you get tight, toned abs.

Not too long ago, I read an article that said that squats, deadlifts, and leg raises were the best exercises for abs. Before reading the article, I was in complete disagreement with the title, and I assumed that the content was going to be inaccurate, too…

…but then I read it and understood what they were trying to communicate.

The bottom line for the article was that, without a strong core, you can’t do any of these exercises, and you most certainly won’t be able to do them well.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of major problems that the writer(s) of the article failed to take a look at, and the problems are as follows:

  1. Not all exercises strengthen the right core muscles to tone and tighten your abs. And if the exercises you’re doing aren’t even really targeting your core in the first place, that’s even worse.
  2. If you don’t activate your core the right way prior to exercising, there’s no exercise in the world that’s going to get you a flat midsection. Period.

Ultimately, what I am writing is that, if you do exercises that don’t purposely target the abs, you’re taking the long and ineffective way to a trim, toned tummy.

Though certain exercises might strengthen your core peripherally, there’s no way that squats target your abdominal muscles in the same way that they target your glutes and legs.

Have You Ever Seen Overweight People With Small Waistlines?

Well…the reason they have small waistlines isn’t just because they have great genetics. It’s also because they have strong transverse abdominis muscles. If you’re not familiar with that set of muscles, let me break it down for you.

Your core is made up of…

  • Your external abdominal obliques. They are on the sides and the fronts of our abdomen. They run diagonally, down towards your pelvis.
  • Your rectus abdominis. They are located at the very front of the abdomen and are can be seen on people who have “6-pack” abs. When strengthened, it develops outward.
  • Your internal abdominal obliques. They are directly under the external obliques and run in the opposite direction – diagonally and up towards your chest.
  • Your transverse abdominis. They are the deepest layer of abdominal muscles, and they wrap around your midsection like a girdle, holding in organs, supporting and stabilizing the spine, and preparing the body for motion once activated. When strong, it develops inward and helps you perform all other movements effectively and efficiently without back or joint pain.

I’m hoping that you can see where I am going with this.

If not, let me explain: not all exercises develop the transverse abdominis, and it is the transverse abdominis that is directly responsible for pulling in your waistline and making you look trimmer – even if you don’t lose fat quickly or easily.

It’s incredibly important to know the exercises to do to strengthen the transverse abdominis, and you need to know how to do them with the proper form so that you don’t hurt yourself in the process.

So…What Do You Do If You Want Flat Abs And A Toned Tummy?

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If you do exercises that activate and target the right abdominal muscles, you’ll definitely see more tummy tightening.

Well, you have to do exercises that specifically target the abdominal muscles that will give you the physique you want. You also have to make sure that your core muscles have been activated, first…

…and that cannot happen without the transverse abdominis doing its part, initially.

Lots of people think that overall strength training is the way to go, but it’s really not. I mean…strength training and full body conditioning are good for the body in general, but strength training is not what you want if you’re specifically going after a flatter stomach.

My long answer to this short question is: YES! You still need to do focused ab training if you want your core to be strong, your stomach to be flat, and your waistline to be trim. As you get older, you can’t get the body of your dreams by accident.

You’ve got to do it on purpose.

Hint: If you’re trying to figure out where you fit on the exercise and fitness spectrum, take a look right here.


The Garage Warrior