July 8, 2024

The Core Fundamentals, with frontdouble's Men's Physique columnist Adam Nugent

THE saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ is a little misleading. Abs are ‘revealed’ in the kitchen, but they are built through well-targeted exercise and the ability to brace during those tortuous heavy lifts.

When we think about the midsection, or core, in bodybuilding terms, the primary thought is of course what we see on the outside. Think about when you are on stage and how much space your midsection takes up in your overall physique. Then you’ll understand why a strong midsection can play a significant role in your success at the show. Not just for having the better abs, but a sharp set of abs can catch the judges eyes in deeper line ups where others may be missed.

I’ve always trained my abs in the growing phase and during prep, with the same focus as any other body part. So it’s time for me to share my ‘must do’s’ when it comes to training the midsection.

Higher reps – Your abs are accustomed to a much higher amount of work than most other body parts, due to being utilised in nearly every movement we perform throughout the day.
While the load may be minimal, this constant use of the midsection means they can take much more volume. I personally aim for anywhere from 10 to 30 reps depending on the exercise.

Keep it simple – you may see some fancy reverse-banded upside down rubbish on social media, but your abs aren’t complicated. Choose a few of the old fashioned favourites such as hanging leg raises, decline sit ups, crunches and cable wood chops and make every set count.

Conscious bracing – while this isn’t strictly an exercise, focusing on bracing during your
resistance exercises will make it much easier to keep your abs contracted on stage when
you’re hitting your poses. This also applies when training the abs. It can be very easy to let
the hip flexors take over, especially when the abs are fatigued, so when you stop feeling the
abs working – stop!

Here is an example of my abs workout I used in my last prep. I repeat this workout twice a week:

Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
*If you can’t quite hit the number of reps on hanging leg raises, supplement these with lying leg raises.
Decline Sit Ups – 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps (or failure).
*The level of decline you choose will dictate the difficulty of the movement. Start with the bench around 45 degrees and this should help to develop the lower section of the abs.
Cable Wood Chops – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps per side.
*Set the cable high and focus on the opposing side of your abs. Don’t over rotate.

If you are competing and you’ve reached a level of condition to be proud of, the last task is to make sure you are peaked right to maximise the detail in the midsection.

Strom Sports Nutrition PeakMax is my go-to peaking supplement for every show I do. It adds the finishing touch to the weeks of hard work. I highly recommend it for anyone who competes. You can pick it up here.

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Frontdouble.com is a new online bodybuilding magazine. We are always interested in contributions. If you would like to share your bodybuilding journey, either through writing about your training or offering nutrition tips, or showing some of your videos, then please send an email to the editor here: info@frontdouble.com